Propane on the Wide Path of Emissions Reductions

June 12, 2023

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On the path to zero, propane plays an important role in fighting environmental justice issues

In the collective effort to reduce emissions for a healthier planet, it will take a wide path to zero and a variety of energy sources to enact real change. Whether it’s due to cost, availability, performance, or any number of other factors, there is no one clean energy source that will solve all the world’s energy needs. In fact, waiting for a one-size-fits-all energy source to emerge might be contributing to larger issues.

According to research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lower income communities face higher exposure to pollutants compared to higher income neighborhoods. Researchers noted the findings have serious health implications, as exposure to harmful emissions can cause lung and heart issues.

The time to act is now using the variety of clean energy sources available, working in the applications and roles where they are best suited, to continue to push us further down the wide path to zero. For propane, that role includes providing an affordable option for commercial vehicle applications as both a dedicated vehicle fuel and as a recharging solution to start fighting environmental justice issues today.

Clean Performance Today and Into the Future

As a low-carbon and powerful vehicle fuel, propane autogas is ideal for medium-duty (Class 3-7) fleets that need a range up to 400 miles per day and the ability to carry a heavier payload. Today’s propane autogas engines are 90% cleaner than mandated EPA standards, with effectively zero particulate matter emissions and 94% fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than clean diesel engines. The latest propane autogas engine technology is classified as near-zero and has moved this energy option even closer to achieving zero emissions levels.

Beyond a vehicle fuel, propane is also providing clean power generation for electric vehicle recharging. New portable infrastructure technology utilizes a microgrid powered by renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and a propane-powered generator to effectively charge EV fleets completely off the grid. Compared to a diesel generator, propane-powered generators for light commercial microgrids are significantly cleaner with near-zero NOx and carbon monoxide emissions, as well as a 24% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

An Equitable Solution for Environmental Justice

Beyond being a clean option, propane’s role on the wide path is also as an affordable solution to quickly reduce emissions today in the communities that carry a heavier burden of pollution.

As a dedicated vehicle fuel, propane autogas provides one of the lowest costs for the lifetime of the vehicle. The fuel itself saves most fleets as much as 50% compared to diesel, and because it is clean, maintenance costs are also reduced. Not to mention, propane autogas infrastructure is also affordable. In most cases, propane suppliers will provide the infrastructure equipment to a fleet at no cost in exchange for a mutually beneficial fuel contract.

As a recharging solution, propane microgrid infrastructure is also cost effective. Compared to traditional EV charging infrastructure, portable propane recharging systems are significantly less expensive because they don’t require the same site prep, permanent housing, or other costly charges that are incurred with permanent infrastructure. In fact, it cuts costs by as much as 75% or more.

Plus, with billions of dollars available for propane autogas refueling and recharging infrastructure and vehicles through local and federal grants, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, fleet owners have more opportunity than ever before to start making real change in lower income communities facing the highest levels of pollution.

By combining clean performance with affordability, it’s clear to see how propane’s role on the wide path to zero can ramp up the fight against environmental justice issues. For more information on how propane can solve environmental issues in your community, visit

Steve Whaley is the director of autogas business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at Visit for more information.