The Promise of Renewable Propane Gas

March 10, 2021

The Propane Education Research Council recently hosted the webinar, “Renewable Propane Production Pathways,” featuring speakers from across the country.

Joy Alafia, President, WPGA

The first speaker, Joy Alafia, President of the Western Propane Gas Association, gave an insightful overview of renewable propane gas and its benefits. She started her presentation by citing a 2018 Pew Charitable Trusts study that surveyed U.S. citizens’ views on climate change. According to the study, 56% were concerned about climate change, 68% supported a carbon tax, 69% believed that climate change is real and 75% were concerned about the environment for the next generation.

Alafia explained that there are many ways to produce renewable propane, as it can come from animal fats, vegetable oils, wood waste, food waste, landfills and methane captured from dairy cows. The most prevalent method of renewable propane gas production is the hydrotreating reaction process.

Alafia outlined the many benefits of renewable propane, such as low nitrous oxide in engines, its ultra-low carbon footprint, fungibility with conventional propane and the overall economics for use. In comparison to diesel fuel, renewable propane’s carbon intensity is only 19% while diesel’s is 102%. Additionally, no additional infrastructure needs to be built to start using renewable propane.

Renewable propane gas has great potential for growth in the United States, with the biggest challenge being in awareness and funding according to Alafia. However, in October 2020 the U-Haul company purchased its first million gallons of renewable propane, making it available to customers at U-Haul autogas facilities in Southern California. Worldwide, major corporations such as Coca-Cola and L’Oréal are investing in the renewable fuel and making an impact in reducing emissions.

During the webinar question and answer session, an attendee asked how do customers learn more to secure supply? Alafia answered, “we need to get those molecules to the applications.” She added that forklifts can use renewable propane as well as the building sector. In concluding her remarks, Alafia struck a unifying tone about the renewable fuels industry:

“In terms of policy, we should incentivize the production of multiple renewable fuels.”

Joy Alafia, Western Propane Gas Association

In other words, the ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ maxim holds true for renewable propane and other renewable fuels. For more information about renewable propane in Virginia, visit the Virginia Propane Gas Association’s website, which provides information on retailers and their locations.