Fuel stations of the future

One big issue that still hinders the advance of clean fuels into the market place is the overall poor distribution infrastructure. Imagine another product as vital to your quality of life as is fuel, yet, the shop selling it is so far away from your home that it becomes a real hassle to buy it. This has been the case for years with bio fuels – praised by so many not only for its environmental but also for its economic sustainability. Many conflicts still remain to be resolved, however, the most pressing one - by far - is the low number of places where you can actually get green fuel. But if green mobility sincerely intends to win over competitive ground in the fuel business it must begin to invest in a better infrastructure. And so it does.

More than just a fuel station?

In 2004, two ambitious businessmen founded Propel Fuels, a company with the mission to make green fuels such as biodiesel a part of the American daily life.[1] Today, it runs thirty-one fuel stations in California and Washington offering the exclusive environmentally friendly E58 ethanol and various blends of biodiesel. Now thirty-one stations are certainly not enough to bring this product to the masses, but the company continues to receive funds from various investors. With this money, Propel Fuel intends to build more than 200 fuel stations over the next two to three years.[2] Furthermore, they don’t just want to draw some fuel pumps out of the sand, the company has higher goals. Apart from massively extending the green fuel station network, Propel Fuel seeks to turn their stations into something like a heaven for people using alternative energy to move about. And the prototype of such a green fuel station was opened at the beginning of this year in the city of Fresno, California. Apart from filling their tanks with alternative fuel, people can recycle their trash at the station, get their bicycles repaired or use public transportation.[3]

The logical next step

The idea then is rather dull, isn’t it? No one wants to drive to a fuel station in order to use the bus from there onwards. Or rather have their bicycle repaired at the shop around the corner instead of driving it to the fuel station by car. The concept sounds tempting but the implementation lacks a certain amount of attractiveness – at least considering these perks. The basic idea, however, is still great: building more green fuel stations could be the entry gate for alternative fuels to hit the market successfully and permanently. This is to say that the other problems of alternative fuel are tackled as well. Much discussion still revolves around the question how sustainable biodiesel really is because it takes up huge areas of land. Space that could be used to produce food for people. Nonetheless, it is exciting to see a company finally attempting to take the main stage in bringing about more green fuel stations. We’ll see what the impact of this will be.

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