CNG Station Construction and Economics

Land and Access
Land is a significant component in building a CNG station. Requirements for land begin at approximately ½ acre of property for a light duty station, and increase with larger applications. The decision will need to be made to build on a new site, or incorporate CNG fueling at an existing site such as an existing station. If civil design work is needed for new construction, a geotechnical site evaluation will likely be required. This evaluation will provide critical soil composition information necessary for concrete foundations and electrical grounding systems. Considerations must be given to road access (public or private) and utility connections. Easy access to major trunk highways is always a great idea, or partnering with a convenience store is another workable plan as well.

An adequate natural gas supply accessible to your location is critical. Contact your localgas distribution company early in the site selection process. Not having adequate gas supply, gas pressure, or being too far from the gas supply could be a deal breaker. Keep the local distribution company involved and updated on the progress of the station, as this organization may be your primary source of natural gas.

Further, high capacity electrical service will be required at most CNG fueling installations to run the equipment necessary to prepare, store, and dispense CNG to waiting vehicles. Contact your local utility provider to confirm adequate power is available or can be provided.

Other Pre-Construction Considerations
It is extremely important to contact the local Fire Marshall and Building Inspector. They provide guidance through the permitting process to make sure the station is designed and constructed in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws, rules, regulations, codes and standards. Some aspects of the construct on require certain licenses or permits, so contact a qualified contractor who specializes in building CNG stations.

Secure and review a current National Fire Prevention Association Code (NFPA-and/or an International Fire Code (IFC) guideline for compressed natural gas vehicle fuel systems. These codes apply to all CNG stations and facilities.

Depending on a fleet application, or commercial venture, research into the requirements of the class of vehicles (light, medium, heavy) to be fueled will be helpful. Each type will have its own impact on the design and performance of your station. Contact the state and local municipal agencies to determine what permits or licenses are required to dispense CNG.

CNG Station Construction Codes
There are a variety of national and local codes and standards to which CNG stations must adhere. This includes, but is not limited to, the addition of fire extinguishers in key locations and multiple emergency shut off valves. Additionally, the construction and permitting process is subjective and can vary based on the code official’s knowledge and familiarity with CNG fueling applications.

The process of complying with existing codes and standards is further complicated by the number of code forming organizations with codes affecting CNG refueling stations:
• American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
• American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
• American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT)
• National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
• National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
• National Electric Code (NEC)
• Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
• Uniform Building Code, Local Jurisdiction (UBC)
• Uniform Fire Code (UFC)
• Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC)
• National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
• Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
• Underwriters Laboratory (UL)

Click here for a partial list of the codes and standards that apply to CNG stations in the U.S.

Station Economics
The cost associated with constructing a CNG refueling station can vary significant depending on size and application and ranges from $675,000 to $1,000,000 or more depending on flow through. Developing to a standard station size with in the North American market enables developers to reduce cost by utilizing economies of scale.The table below provides estimates of equipment and installation costs for one time-fill and two fast-fill stations, and illustrates several scenarios for the number and type of vehicles that can be refueled at the station. Please note that land costs vary and therefore were not considered here. Since it is recommended that fast-fill stations incorporate redundancies in their design, the table also shows a fast-fill station with two compressors. It is also important to note that the costs associated with combination-fill stations will incorporate the costs of both fast and time-fill stations.

Fast Fill Station I Fast Fill Station II Time Fill Station
Natural gas dryer, one 300 scfm compressor, 3 ASME vessel high-pressure storage systems Natural gas dryer, two 300 scfm compressors, 3 ASME vessel high-pressure storage systems, 1 two-hose fast-fill dispenser Natural gas dryer, one 300 scfm compressor, 20 two-hose, time-fill dispensers (no redundancy)
Component $500,000 $650,000 $375,000
Installation $300,00 $350,00 $300,0
Total Cost $800,000 $1,000,000 $675,000
Vehicle Fueling
15 light-duty/15 GGE
consecutively fueling
in a 1-hour peak
period or randomly
arriving light-duty/10
GGE or 10 heavy-
duty/20 DGE
consecutively fueling
in a 1-hour peak
period or randomly
arriving heavy-duty
15 light-duty/15 GGE
consecutively fueling in
a 1-hour peak period
or Randomly arriving
light-duty/10 GGE
or 10 heavy-duty/20
DGE consecutively
fueling in a 1-hour peak
period or Randomly
arriving heavy-duty/10
40 vehicles/38 GGE
in a 10-hour period
or 40 vehicles/33
DGE in each vehicle
in a 10-hour period