Alternative Fuels

Alternative fuels may be less expensive than traditional fuels, but there are associated costs to consider. The price of the combustion unit to burn a particular fuel, and the costs for handling the fuel and disposing of ash (if generated) are important factors when comparing the costs of various fuel sources. For example, coal may seem inexpensive when compared with propane, but the cost of the combustion unit to burn the coal may be prohibitive and there may not be a source of coal at less than a railcar. There is also material handling consideration since coal can’t be pumped.

Solar power may provide an alternative energy source, but this option should be evaluated for cost, return on investment, and environmental feasibility. Historical weather statistics need to be reviewed to determine if enough solar energy will be available at a specific site to make the investment worthwhile. When considering investing in alternative fuels, the best energy efficiency option should be compared with the alternative fuel option because many times the energy efficiency option will have a better return on investment or faster payback than an alternative energy option.