Alternative Fueling Stations Surpass 10,000-Mark

November 14, 2012

Publicly accessible alternative fueling stations have reached unprecedented numbers in the United States. The total number of stations recently surpassed 10,000, as documented by the Alternative Fueling Station Locator, an online mapping tool housed on DOE's Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC).

The AFDC has maintained and published a comprehensive national inventory of alternative fueling stations for almost 20 years. The recent addition of the 10,000th publicly accessible station represents a near tripling in the number of such stations during the past two decades. Over the years, the AFDC's station data has been made available to the public through various means, and today it is accessible through the newly redesigned Alternative Fueling Station Locator, which provides ready access to geographic data for stations that offer biodiesel, E85, electricity, hydrogen, natural gas, and propane for vehicles.

Drivers, fleet managers, researchers, and others can use the Station Locator to perform the following tasks:

  • Identify alternative fueling stations in a given state, city, or ZIP code.
  • Map a driving route with stations identified along the way.
  • Determine the total number of alternative fueling stations in a particular state, the country as a whole, or other geographic areas.
  • Sort and view station data and locations by fuel type.
  • Obtain contact information and payment options for individual stations.
  • Download station data into a spreadsheet for independent analysis and uses.
  • Submit new stations for inclusion in the database.

Recent increases in the total number of alternative fueling stations are partly attributable to the deployment and preparation for plug-in electric vehicles in the market. In order to meet these vehicles' charging needs, more than 4,000 charging stations are now available to drivers. Publicly accessible E85 stations also represent a large share of the total, with more than 2,000 nationwide.

The Alternative Fueling Station Locator reveals which states and regions are deployment hotbeds for individual fuels. California, for example, boasts 140 public stations that dispense compressed natural gas; North Carolina has nearly 30 public biodiesel stations; Texas has more than 450 propane stations; and flex-fuel vehicle drivers in Minnesota have access to more than 330 E85 stations.

The AFDC provides users multiple ways to feature its alternative fueling station data on their own websites. The Alternative Fueling Station Locator functions as a "widget," meaning that users can embed the tool on a Web page of their choosing. Clicking the "Embed" feature on the Station Locator provides html code that Web developers can easily paste into their sites. And they can select a default view that shows a particular geographic area and/or fuel. Once embedded on another site, the tool will continue to access and display the most current data available on the AFDC.

The tool's station data is also available via data feeds that developers can access and use in their own mobile and Web applications. Provided through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's developer site, they can retrieve the data through a Web services API (application programming interface). Developers who access the data can tailor it to their own interests and geographical needs, to reveal natural gas stations in Seattle, for example, or biodiesel stations in Alabama. They can also create mashups that combine the station data with data from other sources to provide new, unique tools and capabilities. NREL's charging station data could be combined with a data set of coffee shop locations to create a tool that shows electric vehicle drivers the nearest place to grab some coffee while their car is charging.