How do propane and electric compare for a low-emissions future?
California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a law that will effectively eliminate the sale of equipment that uses gas-powered small off-road engines (SORE) by 2024 in an effort to reduce emissions. As other states face similar legislative prohibitions, they may be wondering if this is the best solution today.
Fighting climate change by relying on one energy source isn’t realistic and a mandate towards electrification — or any other single solution — is one that our country simply can’t afford environmentally or financially. Instead, it’s important to consider clean, low-emissions energy solutions today — like propane.
Propane is already a low-emissions alternative for small engine applications, providing an immediate and long-term energy solution for construction professionals. Whether powering scissor lifts or generators, propane reduces emissions on construction job sites of all kinds. Propane produces significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than other energy sources, including diesel and gasoline. Additionally, propane is lower in carbon intensity than electricity in 39 states when site-to-source emissions are accounted for. This includes all of the emissions created during the production and transportation of electricity.
Because it’s a clean energy source, propane-powered equipment is safe to use indoors (in properly ventilated areas) and outdoors in all weather conditions, so productivity remains high.
Propane is getting even cleaner as the propane industry and top brand manufacturers continually work to improve propane engine technologies, exhaust catalyst systems and fuel efficiency. Most recently, Briggs & Stratton announced its Vanguard 400 single-cylinder engine, which is powered by propane and has been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as compliant with the Clean Air Act emissions standards. This is the first and only engine in its class with a manufacturer’s warranty and to receive EPA certification with a converted engine, a level of clean emissions not seen before. The converted Vanguard 400 engine features a catalyst muffler reducing CO emissions by up to 95 percent.
Propane is clean today and cleaner tomorrow with the introduction of renewable propane. Renewable propane is a byproduct of renewable diesel and jet fuel production, which uses converted plant and vegetable oils, waste greases and animal fat to produce energy. Because it’s produced from renewable feedstocks, renewable propane is even cleaner than conventional propane—and far cleaner than other energy sources. Renewable propane’s chemical structure and physical properties are the same as traditional propane, meaning it can be used for all the same applications without any modifications to engines or equipment. In California, the propane industry is committed to the development of renewable propane, pledging 100 percent renewable sourcing by 2030.
Propane plays an important role in decarbonization today and because it fuels the equipment needed for construction, it is important in today’s national energy conversation. Construction companies working to reduce operational emissions with clean, sustainable equipment have to make sure equipment choices make sense for their bottom line. Budget overruns occur in 85 percent of construction projects. Considering the challenges electrification can present for construction professionals and contractors, there are no options for rental service companies to make a return on their investment. The infrastructure costs are prohibitive to temporary construction facility management.
Operating propane-powered equipment is one way companies can reduce and control costs because propane saves on maintenance, fuel costs, eliminates infrastructure costs, and avoids expensive costs associated with batteries. Additionally, propane equipment generally lasts longer than electric equipment, making it more cost-effective. Propane is power for construction sites everywhere and energy for everyone. To learn more about the benefit of propane, visit Propane.com.PERC, Propane Education & Research Council