[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
BIO: RFS’ biofuel requirements saved 589.3M tons of carbon emissions over past decade
August 24, 2015
Over its 10-year lifespan, the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS’) requirement to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced US transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons, according to a new analysis released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
To develop its estimates, BIO utilized the GREET1.2013 model to compare carbon emissions from the mixture of US transportation fuels (both petroleum and biofuel) under two scenarios. The first scenario applied the annual required RFS Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) percentages, as established by EPA rulemakings, to the volumes of fossil-based, non-renewable gasoline and diesel used in the United States. To establish a second scenario, BIO assumed that corn ethanol and soy biodiesel would have continued to meet just over 3% of the total reported transportation fuel use over the decade and that petroleum gasoline and diesel would have been used instead.
Opinion: Alternatives to the RFS
by Doug Williams
Recently, the Energy Resources Center made headlines by saying the EPA’s shift on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would equal adding 1 million more passenger vehicles on the road. (Earlier post.) The RFS has been controversial from its beginnings in the early 2000’s. It’s also a political lightning rod given the stagnation of fuel consumption matched with accelerating ethanol blending.
The oil industry would seem to be understandably upset about it. The expansion of the RFS in 2007 goes far beyond just replacing MTBE with ethanol as the required fuel oxygenate (and avoiding lawsuits). Given the stagnant US fuel market, every gallon of biofuel blended into the mix cannibalizes fossil fuel demand. It seems as though when the RFS was conceived, no one could have thought that fuel consumption would have flat-lined. But is there a better way? There are options for continuing our commitment towards renewable fuels to secure US energy requirements. Let’s look a few here.
JRC: Increased use of renewables results in growing GHG emission savings in the EU; transport contribution only 5%
August 07, 2015
Greenhouse gasses (GHG) emission savings due to final renewable energy consumption in electricity; cooling/heating; and transport sectors rose at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% from 2009 to 2012, confirming renewables’ potential in climate change mitigation, according to a new report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s in-house science service. Nearly two thirds of the total savings came from renewable energy development in Germany, Sweden, France, Italy and Spain.
The report assesses data on the use of renewable energy, submitted by EU Member States every two years, as required by EU legislation on renewable energy. The report estimates that in 2012, when total GHG emissions reached the equivalent of 4546 Mt CO₂, the deployment of all renewables in the EU avoided the equivalent of 716 Mt CO₂ emissions. According to the report, the highest contribution by renewables in climate change mitigation in the EU in 2012 came from renewable electricity, which covered 64% of the savings, due to high penetration of wind and solar power, followed by renewable heating and cooling (31%) and renewable transport (5%).
Obama orders creation of National Strategic Computing Initiative; delivering exascale computing
July 31, 2015
President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). The NSCI is a whole-of-government effort designed to create a cohesive, multi-agency strategic vision and Federal investment strategy, executed in collaboration with industry and academia, to maximize the benefits of high-performance computing (HPC) for the United States. One of the specific objectives is accelerating the delivery of exascale computing. (Earlier post.)
The coordinated Federal strategy is to be guided by four principles: deploying and applying new HPC technologies broadly for economic competitiveness and scientific discovery; fostering public-private collaboration; cooperaation among all executive departments and agencies with significant expertise or equities in HPC while also collaborating with industry and academia; and developing a comprehensive technical and scientific approach to transition HPC research on hardware, system software, development tools, and applications efficiently into development and, ultimately, operations.
ICCT study assesses EV promotion and uptake in top 25 metropolitan areas in US
July 30, 2015
A new study by a team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has found that the top metropolitan markets in the US for electric vehicles tend to be characterized by a combination of relatively progressive promotional activities; more extensive charging infrastructure per capita; greater consumer incentives; and a broader range of available models.
The newly published white paper—Assessment of Leading Electric Vehicle Promotion Activities in United States Cities, surveys actions being taken by state and local governments and public utilities to facilitate electric vehicle deployment in the 25 most populous US metropolitan areas, which together represent more than 42% of the population; 46% of auto sales; 67% of new electric vehicle registrations; and 53% of the public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US as of 2014.
DLR and Wuppertal publish comprehensive global analysis of e-mobility technologies, outlook and lifecycle assessments
July 23, 2015
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH; WI) have published results of their STROMbegleitung (electricity evaluation) comprehensive study to analyze technologies; market outlook; policy support; infrastructure; and life-cycle assessments for electrically-powered transport.
The study, which ran from October 2011 – September 2014, comprehensively charts current progress in technology; identifies trends; analyzes lifecycle assessments for a variety of vehicle concepts; and assess material intensities. At the same time, it places German activities in the field of electromobility within an international context. The research program received a €1.7 million euro grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) as part of the STROM support program (key technologies for electromobility).
SFU researchers find promise for plug-in vehicles in Canada, but need for increased supply and policy support
July 16, 2015
New work by a team at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada has found that more than one-third of Canadian buyers want a plug-in vehicle (PEV), with the majority of those (89—93%) wanting a plug-in hybrid rather than a pure electric vehicle. However, less than 1% of vehicle sales in Canada are electric because of low consumer awareness and limited vehicle choice.
With the current supply of PEVs in Canada (7 models), the future PEV new market share is not likely to exceed 4—5% by 2030, according to the report; increasing supply (to 56 models) could increase market share to over 20% by 2030.
Study finds single exposure to roadway PM induces transient pulmonary stress; possible need to regulate non-tailpipe-related pollution
July 13, 2015
A study by researchers in Israel and the US has found that single (“sub-clinical”) exposure to extracts from particulate material (PM) collected in a near roadway environment can induce a transient oxidative stress and inflammation in mice’ lungs. The researchers attributed this largely to the dissolved metals (such as Cu, Fe, Mn, V, Ni, and Cr) that are part of roadway emissions.
The local response was largely self-resolved by 48 h, suggesting that it could represent a subclinical response to everyday-level exposure. Removal of soluble metals by chelation markedly diminished the pulmonary response. The paper appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
European automakers and fuel suppliers argue for diesel as they call on policy makers to accelerate fleet renewal
July 08, 2015
In an open letter to EU policy makers, leading representatives of the automotive and petroleum refining industry in Europe called on policy makers to help accelerate fleet renewal and the introduction of the cleanest vehicles and committed to keep pushing the technical boundaries in order to find ever better ways of combining the customer benefits of diesel—fuel economy and low CO2—with continuously reduced emissions.
The associations pointed out that political measures restricting the rollout of the new generation of diesel technology would undermine existing efforts to cut CO2 emissions.
Study: even with high LDV electrification, low-carbon biofuels will be necessary to meet 80% GHG reduction target; “daunting” policy implications
July 03, 2015
A study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Michigan State University colleague has concluded that even with a relatively high rate of electrification of the US light-duty fleet (40% of vehicle miles traveled and 26% by fuel), an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 relative to 1990 can only be achieved with significant quantities of low-carbon liquid fuel. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
For the study, the researchers benchmarked 27 scenarios against a 50% petroleum-reduction target and an 80% GHG-reduction target. They found that with high rates of electrification (40% of miles traveled) the petroleum-reduction benchmark could be satisfied, even with high travel demand growth. The same highly electrified scenarios, however, could not satisfy 80% GHG-reduction targets, even assuming 80% decarbonized electricity and no growth in travel demand.
Researchers find Nissan LEAF creates less CO2 than Toyota Prius hybrid in west US and Texas, but more in N. Midwest
July 01, 2015
Regionally specific lifecycle CO2 emissions per mile traveled for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US can vary widely based on grid emission factors (i.e., the “carbon footprint” of electricity production and use), according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Under some conditions, the battery electric Nissan LEAF can produce higher emissions than a Toyota Prius hybrid. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The team characterized the vehicle emissions across the United States under alternative assumptions for regional electricity emission factors, regional boundaries, and charging schemes. Among the findings were that:
CMU policy briefs outline benefits and potential for adoption of electrified vehicles in the US
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have published two new policy briefs, along with accompanying videos, about the benefits of electrified vehicles and the potential for their adoption in the US. The briefs condense the findings of a number of recent papers coming out of the CMU group led by Professor Jeremy Michalek.
The first—“Electric Vehicle Benefits and Costs in the United States”—shows that the benefits of vehicle electrification vary based on vehicle type; driving style; climate; how supplying electricity is generated; and time of charge. To achieve the best outcomes, the brief suggests, plug-in vehicle adoption should typically be focused on HEVs and PHEVs by city drivers in mild-climate regions with a clean electricity grid, such as San Francisco or Los Angeles. Further, drivers should not be encouraged to charge at night in coal-heavy regions.
California ARB approves $373M funding plan for advanced vehicle technologies in FY2015-2016; up from $150M last year
June 26, 2015
The California Air Resources Board today approved a $373-million funding plan that covers all investments in advanced technologies for fiscal year 2015-16, from zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles.
The budget for the annual Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation Investments and the Air Quality Improvement Program is up by $150 million over last year’s budget, and is subject to approval by the Legislature when it considers the proposed expenditure of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds as part of the State Budget.
LowCVP: 5 Ps for influencing uptake of low emission vehicles at local level
The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership has launched a Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles. A key recommendation is that policy measures implemented at the local level should be consistent with each other, that common definitions and vocabulary for low emission vehicles should be established. The Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles was prepared for the LowCVP by Urban Foresight.
Released to coincide with the LowCVP’s 2015 Annual Conference which features a discussion on mobility in future cities, the LowCVP has identified five ‘P’s from the Guide—levers that local authorities can most effectively use to influence low emission vehicle uptake at the local level:
EPA takes first steps toward regulating commercial aviation GHGs with endangerment finding under CAA
June 11, 2015
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to find under section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial aircraft engines endanger the health and welfare of Americans by contributing to climate change. At the same time, the agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that provides information on the process for setting international CO2 emissions standards for aircraft at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and describes and seeks input on the potential use of section 231 of the Clean Air Act to adopt a corresponding standard domestically.
The finding applies to GHG emissions from engines used in US subsonic jet aircraft with a maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) greater than 5,700 kilograms and in subsonic propeller driven (e.g., turboprop) aircraft with a MTOM greater than 8,618 kilograms. Examples of covered aircraft would include smaller jet aircraft such as the Cessna Citation CJ2+ and the Embraer E170, up to and including the largest jet aircraft: the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747. Other examples of covered aircraft would include larger turboprop aircraft, such as the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Q400. The actions do not apply to small piston-engine planes or to military aircraft.
1st major utility proposal for EV charging infrastructure presented to CPUC
June 05, 2015
A diverse set of public interest groups, automakers, labor unions, and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) submitted a proposed settlement to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to accelerate the deployment of smart electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that would support the utility grid in San Diego.
The application is California’s first utility pilot proposal to help develop charging infrastructure, and, through pricing that allows for customer-managed charging, to manage transportation electrification load to support the evolving needs of an electrical grid increasingly dominated by variable renewable energy.
EPA proposes volume requirements for Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014-2016
May 29, 2015
Adhering to a schedule in a proposed consent decree (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its long-awaited proposed volume requirements (renewable volume obligations, RVO) (earlier post) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017. The period for public input and comment on the proposal will be open until 27 July. EPA says it will finalize the volume standards in this rule by 30 November.
EPA is proposing to establish the 2014 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel used in that year; the standards for 2015 and 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) increase steadily over time, with the most aggressive growth projected for the problematic area of cellulosic biofuels: from 33 million gallons in 2014 to 206 million gallons in 2016.
California providing incentives up to $12K to help low-income families afford the cleanest cars
May 28, 2015
In coordination with local air officials, the California Air Resources Board is initiating a retire-and-replace pilot program in the Greater Los Angeles area and San Joaquin Valley to help people of low income replace old, polluting cars with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that also cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The air district-administered program provides incentives on a sliding scale, with larger cash payments for the lowest-income families moving up to the cleanest cars. The lowest-income recipient purchasing the very cleanest car receives the highest incentive amounts. Under the program, it is possible for a family that meets income guidelines to receive as much as $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car.
Canada targets cutting GHGs 30% below 2005 levels by 2030; new regulations for oil and gas, power, petrochemicals
May 15, 2015
Canada Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that Canada plans to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada formally submitted its target, referred to as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Canada will continue to take cooperative action with its continental trading partners, particularly the United States, in integrated sectors of the economy, including energy and transportation.
Minister Aglukkaq also announced the Government’s intention to develop new regulatory measures under its sector-by-sector approach that would build on actions already taken on two of Canada’s largest sector sources of GHG emissions: transportation and electricity. The new regulations include:
California ARB posts discussion document for developing Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation
May 09, 2015
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted a discussion document for upcoming workshops on the development of the Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation.
The proposed Advanced Clean Transit regulation will consider strategies to achieve additional criteria pollutant emissions reductions from transit fleets and to accelerate purchases of zero emission buses as part of an overall strategy to transform all heavy duty vehicles to zero emission or near zero emission vehicles to meet air quality and efficiency improvement goals. ARB staff Staff is evaluating four potential broad elements to the Advanced Clean Transit regulation:
Report for the EC evaluates prospects for sugar-based platforms for biofuels and biochemicals
May 08, 2015
A comprehensive review of 94 potential pathways to biofuels and biochemicals via the sugar platform, prepared for the European Commission (DG ENER) by a team from E4tech, RE-CORD and Wageningen UR, finds that the global market value of the sugar platform is today of the order of $65 billion, with bioethanol (from sugar and starch crops) by far the dominant product in the market.
While several newer biofuel and biochemical routes show significant growth potential, only a few are currently crossing the valley of death between research and commercialization. Of ten case studies (the technologies being at least at TRL5) considered in detail, most can deliver significant greenhouse gas (GHG) savings and identical (or improved) physical properties, but at an added cost to fossil alternatives.
BIO: RFS policy instability has chilled advanced and cellulosic biofuel investments; $13.7B shortfall
May 04, 2015
EPA’s delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past two years have chilled necessary investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels just as they reached commercial deployment. The industry has experienced an estimated $13.7-billion shortfall in investment as a result, according to a new analysis released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
To reach the 2015 RFS goal of producing 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels (including 3 billion gallons of cellulosic and 2.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuel or biodiesel), Bio Economic Research Associates (bio-era) estimated the need for 110 operating plants requiring $20.34 billion dollars in cumulative investment. The research and advisory firm also estimated that more than $95 billion in cumulative capital investments would be needed by 2022 for construction of nearly 400 advanced biofuel biorefineries with the capacity to produce 23 billion gallons of advanced biofuel.
European Parliament votes to cap crop-derived biofuels at 7% of transport energy consumption by 2020
May 01, 2015
The European Parliament approved a draft law to to cap crop-derived biofuel consumption and accelerate the shift to alternative sources. Member states must enact the legislation by 2017.
Current legislation requires EU member states to ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10% of energy consumption in transport by 2020. The new law says that first-generation biofuels (from crops grown on agricultural land) should account for no more than 7% of energy consumption in transport by 2020. The intent of the new law is to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by the growing use of farm land for biofuel crops.
ITF report finds self-driving shared vehicles could take up to 90% of cars off city streets; total kilometers travelled increases
April 30, 2015
A fleet of self-driving shared cars combined with high-capacity public transport could make 90% of conventional cars in mid-sized cities superfluous under certain circumstances, according to a study published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD. Even during peak hours, only about one-third (35%) of the current number of cars would be needed to provide the same number of trips as today.
However, while the number of cars is drastically lower, total vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) increase—more than doubling in one scenario at peak periods due to detours for pick-ups/drop-offs, repositioning and a shift from bus trips to shared cars. The additional travel could increase environmental impacts, if the fleets used conventional engines. If a fleet of electric vehicles were used instead, a fleet of shared self-driving vehicles would need only 2% more vehicles, however, to accommodate battery re-charging times and reduced travel range.
California Governor orders more stringent GHG reduction target for the state: 40% below 1990 levels by 2030
California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued an executive order (B-30-15) to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most aggressive GHG reduction target enacted by any government in North America to reduce GHG emissions over the next decade and a half.
Under the order, all state agencies with jurisdiction over sources of greenhouse gas emissions will need to implement measures, pursuant to statutory authority, to achieve reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to meet the 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will also update the Climate Change Scoping Plan to express the 2030 target in terms of million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
DOE to re-fund Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis with $75M for solar fuels R&D
April 29, 2015
The US Department of Energy announced $75 million in funding to renew the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub originally established in 2010 with the goal of harnessing solar energy for the production of fuel. (Earlier post.)
Under the renewal plan, the five-year-old center would receive funding for an additional five years of research, subject to Congressional appropriations. JCAP researchers are focused on achieving the major scientific breakthroughs needed to produce liquid transportation fuels from a combination of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, using artificial photosynthesis.
Japan Ministries propose light commercial vehicle fuel economy standards for 2022
April 28, 2015
In a policy update, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) reports that Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) have finalized new proposed fuel economy standards for light- and medium-duty commercial vehicles with gross vehicle weights less than 3.5 tonnes. MLIT and METI will use the proposal as a basis for revisions to relevant laws and regulations, with a target for completion in spring of 2015.
The new standards will require that the fuel economy of model year 2022 light and medium commercial vehicles sold in Japan average 17.9 km/L (42 mpg US, 5.6 l/100 km) in 2022, compared to 14.2 km/L (33.4 mpg US, 7.0 l/100 km) in 2012. This represents a 26% increase in fuel economy from 2012 values, and a 23% increase from the 2015 standard of 14.5 km/L (34.1 mpg US, 6.9 l/100 km).
NRC report recommends ways to overcome barriers hindering purchases of PEVs; vehicle cost, battery tech and consumer knowledge among others
April 22, 2015
Vehicle cost, current battery technology, and inadequate consumer knowledge are some of the barriers preventing widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles, according to a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. Developing less expensive, better performing batteries is essential to reducing overall vehicle cost, and a market strategy is needed to create awareness and overcome customer uncertainty, the report finds. The report recommends a range of incentives that the federal government can offer to address these and other barriers.
The premise of the report—“Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles”—is that there is a benefit to the United States if a higher fraction of vehicle miles traveled is fueled by electricity rather than by petroleum due to the resulting reduction in dependence on petroleum and reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants. The task of the committee of experts and stakeholders writing the report was (1) to identify market barriers slowing the purchase of PEVs and hindering the deployment of supporting infrastructure in the United States and (2) to recommend ways to mitigate those barriers.
California Energy Commission awards nearly $9M to 3 projects to support local manufacturing of heavy-duty electric vehicles, PHEVs
April 09, 2015
As part of its approval of more than $83.7 million in grants and loans for 46 projects covering transportation, energy storage, biogas and efficiency programs, the California Energy Commission awarded nearly $9 million to three companies to encourage the manufacturing of heavy-duty electric vehicles and components in California.
The Energy Commission also approved the 2015-2016 Investment Plan Update for its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP). The program develops and deploys innovative technologies that transform California’s fuel and vehicle types to help attain the state’s climate change goals. The annual Investment Plan Update determines priorities and opportunities for the program, describes how funding will complement existing public and private efforts, and guides funding decisions. Recent legislation extended the ARFVTP until 1 January 2024.
Georgia Tech study projects potential mixed impacts of climate change policies on air quality
April 08, 2015
Results of a study by a team from Georgia Tech and their colleagues at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management show that national CO2emissions reductions strategies will play an important role in impacting air quality over the US. The results also show that CO2 emission reduction policies can have mixed positive and negative impacts on air quality. A paper on the study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
In the study, the researchers assessed the impact of four potential climate mitigation policies—two climate tax scenarios (CT1 and CT2); a combined transportation and energy scenario (TE); a biomass energy (BE) scenario; plus a reference case—on air quality in the US in 2050 using a chemical transport model (CTM) to simulate air pollutant concentrations and applying recent climate downscaling and emissions modeling advancements.
Roland Berger: China is the frontrunner in e-mobility subsidies; sales of xEVs double in Q1
April 03, 2015
China is currently subsidizing the development of e-mobility, making just under €7.7 billion (US$8.4 billion) available in the period to 2016, and is the global frontrunner in e-mobility subsidies by far, according to the Q1 2015 E-Mobility Index published by consultancy Roland Berger. The report also found that while Japan increased its subsidies slightly to €171 million (US$187 million) through 2016, most of the major automotive nations have seen the public subsidization of e-mobility decline dramatically. The US and Italy offer the least subsidization.
The index, prepared by Roland Berger and fka experts, compares the relative competitive standings of the top seven automotive nations (Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Japan, China and South Korea) in the electromobility segment. The outcome is based on analysis of three indicators: technology, industry and market.
DOE announces conditional commitment for $259M loan to Alcoa for automotive aluminum production
March 26, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced a conditional commitment for a $259-million loan to Alcoa Inc. If finalized, the loan would support the company’s Alcoa, Tennessee, manufacturing facility (Tennessee Operations), where the company will produce high-strength aluminum for North American automakers looking to lightweight their vehicles. (Earlier post.)
This conditional commitment is the first issued by the Department under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program since Secretary Moniz announced a number of improvements to the program last year, and is the first step toward issuing a final loan to Alcoa.
EPA awards $8M in FY2014 clean diesel grants in 21 states, Puerto Rico
March 20, 2015
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $8 million to communities in 21 states and Puerto Rico to reduce emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of diesel engines through the agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program. The grants will fund projects such as retrofitting older school buses to improve air quality for children riding to school, upgrading marine propulsion and agriculture engines, and replacing long haul truck engines.
The twenty-one projects will receive funding through the EPA’s DERA Fiscal Year 2014 allocation. The selected projects are cost-effective and will impact fleets operating in areas that will benefit from additional steps to protect air quality and public health.
Obama orders GHG cuts for Federal Agencies; 50% of all new agency vehicles to be ZEV or PHEV by 2025
March 19, 2015
President Obama today signed a wide-ranging executive order mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for Federal agencies. Through more efficient Federal operations, agency direct greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by at least 40% over the next decade, the order suggests. The order has operational directives for building and fleet management, electricity generation, water use, waste management and purchasing.
As an initial outcome, within 90 days the head of each agency sis to propose to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) percentage reduction targets for agency-wide reductions of scope 1 and 2 and scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by the end of fiscal year 2025 relative to a fiscal year 2008 baseline.
Simon Fraser study finds PEV success not tied to awareness of public chargers; implications for policy makers
March 17, 2015
A new Canada-wide study conducted by Simon Fraser University researchers found that awareness of public chargers is not a strong predictor of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) interest; other variables are more important, such as the availability of level 1 (110/120-volt) charging at home. The results have important implications for governments with limited budgets to support the EV market, suggests Jonn Axsen, Assistant Professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management.
The study, conducted by Axsen and two of his graduate students, is published in the journal Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. The researchers also recently presented their study to the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC.
Global NCAP calls for universal application of minimum vehicle safety standards in all world markets by 2020
March 11, 2015
Millions of new cars sold in middle and low income countries fail to meet the UN’s basic safety standards for front and side impacts, according to international automotive safety watchdog Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Program). Global NCAP has released a new policy report, “Democratising Car Safety: Road Map for Safer Cars 2020”, calling for minimum vehicle safety standards to be applied universally in all world markets.
World Health Organization (WHO) figures put the annual death toll from road crashes worldwide at 1.3 million people, while up to 50 million are injured in those crashes. The global vehicle fleet reached 1 billion units in 2010 and is forecast to double in the next ten to fifteen years, with much of this increase occurring in low and middle income countries which account for 90% of total road deaths.
Evidence from glacier ice: Until it was banned, leaded gasoline dominated the anthropogenic lead emissions in South America
March 08, 2015
Leaded gasoline was a larger emission source of the toxic heavy metal lead than mining in South America, even though the extraction of metals from the region’s mines historically released huge quantities of lead into the environment, according to a study by researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the University of Bern.
The team discovered evidence of the dominance of leaded gasoline based on measurements in an ice core from Illimani glacier in Bolivia; Illimani is the highest mountain of the eastern Bolivian Andes and is located at the northeastern margin of the Andean Altiplano. The scientists found that lead from road traffic in the neighboring countries polluted the air twice as heavily as regional mining from the 1960s onwards. An open access paper on the work is published in the journal Science Advances.
Cal Energy Commission adopts report outlining how state transforming transportation system to meet climate goals
February 26, 2015
The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. This report highlights the importance of incentives in helping speed this transition and specifically explores the role Assembly Bill 8, which makes more than $2 billion available for public investment, can play in helping to achieve this progress.
The Energy Commission also approved almost $16 million in research grants to help develop the next generation of energy efficient technologies for commercial and residential buildings; $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels; and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations.
Europe moves forward on the Energy Union; transport key element
The European Commission has adopted the European Energy Union package—a framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy. As a next step, the Commission will present it to the EU institutions. The European Council will discuss the Energy Union at its meeting in March 2015.
According to the EC, the European Energy Union is intended to bring about a fundamental transition in Europe’s energy system towards an economy that is no longer driven by fossil fuels and where energy security is based on solidarity and trust; where energy flows freely, without any barriers, in a truly integrated EU-wide energy system; where strong, competitive companies develop innovative products and technologies with the help of European research and innovation, and where citizens play a stronger role in the energy system, using technology to reduce their bills, and vulnerable consumers are not left behind.
Volkswagen of America to invest $10M in EV charging infrastructure by 2016; calls for more legislative support to spur EV adoption
February 10, 2015
Volkswagen of America will invest $10 million by 2016 to support the build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US, said Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy. At the same time, Sommer said in his presentation at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington DC, continued legislative support is needed to reach the next level of electric vehicle adoption.
In January, Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, announced an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts; specifically to install nearly 100 DC Fast Chargers across both coasts aiming to have charging sites no more than 50 miles apart. (Earlier post.) This program is one component of the $10-million commitment Volkswagen is making to support the build-out of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
NHTSA releases two new studies on impaired driving on US roads; drunk driving down, drug use up
February 07, 2015
The nation’s decades-long campaign to combat drunk driving continues to make roads safer, but use of marijuana and prescription drugs is increasingly prominent on the highways, creating new safety questions, according to a pair of new studies released by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
One study, the latest version of NHTSA’s Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, found that the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007, and by more than three-quarters since the first Roadside Survey in 1973. But that same survey found a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or other illegal drugs. In the 2014 survey, nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety.
ICCT finds growth in shipping in Arctic could increase pollutant emissions 150-600% by 2025 with current fuels
February 05, 2015
|Comparison of the potential reduction in emissions with the application of lower sulfur 0.5% and 0.1% fuel for Arctic vessels assuming a low-growth scenario. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.|
At the current allowable levels of sulfur in marine bunker fuels, pollutant emissions (particulates, black carbon, NOx, SOx, and CO2) from projected increased ship traffic transiting the US High Arctic could increase from 150% to 600% (depending upon the pollutant) above 2011 levels by 2025, according to a new working paper just published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).
The new study is based on a study—“10-Year Projection of Maritime Activity in the US Arctic Region”—completed last month by the ICCT for the US Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS) and submitted to the White House as part of the deliverables for the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region and its 2014 Implementation plan. That study provided estimates of vessel traffic (numbers of vessels and transits) based on modeling of current vessel activity patterns, growth potential, and vessel projection scenarios, including diversion from other routes, and oil and gas development. The study found the potential for 1,500–2,000 Bering Strait transits in 2025, a three- to four-fold increase from 440 transits in 2013 (based on the medium-growth scenario).
President’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9B for DOE; 9% boost over FY 2015 enacted; $793M (2.7%) for sustainable transportation
February 03, 2015
President Barack Obama’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9 billion for the US Department of Energy (DOE). The FY 2016 DOE Budget Request represents a 9% increase ($2.5 billion) above the FY 2015 enacted level.
42% of the DOE Budget Request ($12.6 billion) is for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an increase of $1.2 billion over the FY 2015 Enacted level, to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing and manage the research, development, and production activities and associated infrastructure maintenance and modernization needed to meet national nuclear security requirements.
Obama Administration recommends designating most of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness
January 26, 2015
On Sunday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released its revised proposed comprehensive conservation plan and final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the 19.64-million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The FWS’ preferred alternative recommends an additional 12.28 million acres—including the Coastal Plain—for designation as “Wilderness”. (“Wilderness” (with a capital “W”) refers to designated Wilderness areas, with accompanying restrictions.) The FWS also recommends four rivers—the Atigun, Hulahula, Kongakut, and Marsh Fork Canning—for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Currently, more than 7 million acres of the refuge are managed as Wilderness. However, more than 60% of the refuge—including the Coastal Plain—does not carry that designation. Implementation of the preferred alternative would change that.
ICCT: available low-carbon fuels can reduce CI of on-road transportation fuels in Pacific Coast region by 14%–21% by 2030
January 23, 2015
|Fuel carbon intensity reduction from 2015-2030 from fuel deployment scenarios for the Pacific Coast region. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.|
A new study from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and E4tech finds that the targets adopted or proposed by British Columbia, California, Oregon, and Washington to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels can be met with a range of low-carbon fuel options. By 2030, the study concludes, low-carbon fuels could replace more than a quarter of the gasoline and diesel used by vehicles in the Pacific Coast region by 2030, with a reduction in the overall carbon intensity of on-road transportation fuels of 14%–21%.
The conclusions are based on a detailed modeling study of low-carbon fuel technologies and production pathways, estimating the future availability of low carbon fuels given policy incentives to supply them in the Pacific Coast region. The study presents eight scenarios for low-carbon fuel supply, including varying amounts of electricity, hydrogen, ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, next generation cellulosic biofuel, and natural gas. Potential carbon savings were estimated by comparing the expected carbon intensity of these alternative fuels to the carbon intensity of the fossil fuels they replace.
California to award up to $4M for projects to advanced smart charging and V2G technologies
December 19, 2014
The California Energy Commission has issued a solicitation (PON-14-310, Driving the Integration of Electric Vehicles to Maximize Benefits to the Grid) to fund Applied Research and Development projects that will advance technologies and strategies for smart and efficient charging and vehicle-to-grid communication interfaces that will provide maximum benefits to both the electricity grid and the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market.
There is up to $4 million available for grants awarded under this solicitation. The minimum funding amount for each project is $500,000; maximum funding amount is $1.5 million. Match funding is not required for this solicitation; however, applications that include match funding will receive additional points during the scoring phase.
European automotive and automotive battery industries call for extension of the exemption of lead-based batteries from the EU ELV Directive
December 18, 2014
The EU must continue to allow the use of lead-based batteries in vehicles as they are essential for the needs of future generations of European cars, according to the automotive and automotive battery industries in Europe. Lead battery and car manufacturers have requested that the current exemption for lead-based batteries within the ELV Directive’s wider ban on lead in light-duty vehicles is maintained for at least another eight years.
The comments are part of the formal submission made by the industry group to EU regulators who concluded the public consultation phase of the review of the End of Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive this week. Following the consultation the Commission is expected to release its opinion in the first half of 2015.
Washington governor proposes slate of measures to curb GHG emissions & transition state to cleaner energy; cap-and-trade and EV incentives
December 17, 2014
Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a set of proposals to transition Washington to cleaner sources of energy and to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limits adopted by the state Legislature in 2008. The proposals build on a comprehensive executive order issued by the governor in April.
Cap-and-trade. The proposed “Carbon Pollution Accountability Act” (CPAA) would create a new, market-based program that sets an annual limit CO2 emissions; major emitters will need to purchase “allowances” for their emissions. Each year, the number of available allowances will decline to ensure emissions are gradually reduced. The Governor’s office projects that the program will generate about $1 billion in the first year, and more thereafter, which will be used for transportation, education, tax relief for working families and other purposes.
ABB-led consortium launches $10.5M project to install fast chargers along key European highways
December 16, 2014
A 5-partner consortium led by ABB has launched a €8.4-million (US$10.5-million) project, co-funded 50% by the European Union, to install a corridor of high-quality fast chargers along key European motorways until the end of 2015. In addition to ABB, the consortium includes the Dutch e-mobility operator and retailer Fastned B.V.; the Danish e-mobility operator CLEVER A/S; the Swedish public utility and e-mobility operator Öresundskraft AB; and the German Testing and Certification Institute VDE Prüf-und Zertifizierungsinstitut GmbH.
The aim of the ELECTRIC project is to create an open-access fast-charging corridor situated along major motorways connecting Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands via a total of 155 chargers, with up to 30 in the Netherlands, 23 in Denmark, 35 in Sweden and 67 in Germany.
CCFA counters Paris mayor’s proposed total diesel ban with suggestion to focus on legacy fleet
The Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles (CCFA) (the French automobile manufacturers association) characterized the recent declaration by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, that she wished to eliminate diesel vehicles in the city by 2020 as lacking realism, and suggested that the best solution to improve urban air quality requires taking action on the more heavily polluting legacy fleet.
Mayor Hidalgo described her anti-pollution plan, which will be considered by the Conseil de Paris (the assembly governing the city) on 9 February, to the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (leJDD) on 6 December. Among the elements of the plan are a total ban on diesel in Paris in 2020; the Rue de Rivoli and the Champs-Élysées to be dedicated to ultra-low emission clean vehicles; and the four districts of the center to be transformed into vast semi-pedestrian areas.
DOE issues FY 2015 SBIR/STTR Release 2 funding opportunity, including hydrogen fuel cells, electric drive batteries
December 09, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued its FY 2015 Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001227) for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. Technical topics for this FOA—which span the range of DOE interests from fossil to nuclear to renewable and low-carbon energies—include two hydrogen- and fuel-cell-related topics: fuel cell-battery electric hybrid trucks and in-line quality control devices for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.
Also included are electric drive vehicle batteries, power electronics, on-board reformers, and advanced crank and ignition mechanisms for combustion engines.
DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office updates 5-year program plan; commercially viable hydrocarbon biofuel technologies by 2017; <$3/GGE
November 23, 2014
|BETO high-level schedule. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BTO) has updated its Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP), which delineates the goals and structure of the office. BTO is one of the 10 technology development offices within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at DOE.
The MYPP identifies the research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) activities the Office will focus on over the next five years and explains why these activities are important. The MYPP is intended for use as an operational guide to help BETO manage and coordinate its activities, as well as a resource to help communicate its mission and goals to stakeholders and the public.
DOE reports progress on development of low-carbon and renewable sources of hydrogen production
November 21, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office’ (FCTO) 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report (earlier post)—an annual summary of results from projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program—described progress in the field of hydrogen production.
The objective of the Hydrogen Production sub-program is to reduce the cost of hydrogen dispensed at the pump to a cost that is competitive on a cents-per-mile basis with competing vehicle technologies. Based on current analysis, this translates to a hydrogen threshold cost of <$4 per kg hydrogen (produced, delivered, and dispensed, but untaxed) by 2020, apportioned to <$2/kg for production only.
DOE to fund development of processes to aggregate purchases of alt-fuel and advanced vehicles; goal is cost reduction and accelerated adoption
DOE plans (DE-FOA-0001236) to issue in the February 2015 timeframe a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001237) to develop and to implement effective purchasing/procurement processes designed to coordinate and consolidate bulk alternative fuel vehicle and advanced vehicle orders and thus reduce the per-unit prices of commercially-available vehicles.
DOE expects that such an aggregated purchasing/procurement process will enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers to increase production volumes; achieve economies of scale; and reduce incremental vehicle costs specific to electric drive, natural gas, propane, hybrid, and other alternative fuel vehicle and advanced vehicle technologies.
DOE to seek emerging technology with “FY 2015 Vehicle Technologies Office Incubator” funding opportunity
November 16, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends (DE-FOA-0001243) to issue, on behalf of the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), a Funding Opportunity Announcement titled “FY 2015 Vehicle Technologies Office Incubator” (DE-FOA-0001213). The VTO runs a significant R&D portfolio in support of the development and deployment of a broad range of efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies. The new FOA is not an extension of those portfolio programs.
Rather, the Vehicle Technologies Incubator FOA will fund small (<500 employee) businesses and US colleges, universities, institutions of higher learning and university-affiliated research institutions with approaches and solutions that are not currently represented in the Office’s Multi-Year Program Plan and/or existing project portfolio in a meaningful or significant way.
DOE 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Progress Report highlights substantial progress
November 13, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has posted the 2014 edition of its annual Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report—a nearly 1,000-page document. The report summarizes the reports provided each year by projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and offers additional information about recent Program accomplishments.
The Program engages in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of critical improvements in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as other activities to overcome obstacles to commercialization. The Program integrates basic and applied research, technology development and demonstration, and other supporting activities. Over the past year, said Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Director, FCTO, “the Program made substantial progress toward its goals and objectives.”
US and China jointly announce GHG reduction targets; US to cut net GHG 26-28% by 2025, China to peak CO2 by ~2030
November 12, 2014
The US and China jointly announced greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. US President Barack Obama said the US will cut net greenhouse gas emissions in the US by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. At the same time, President Xi Jinping of China announced targets to peak that country’s CO2 emissions around 2030, with the intention to try to peak early, and to increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20% by 2030. Together, the US and China account for more than one third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The new US goal will double the pace of GHG reduction from 1.2% per year on average during the 2005-2020 period to 2.3-2.8% per year on average between 2020 and 2025. The Administration said that the ambitious target is grounded in analysis of cost-effective carbon pollution reductions achievable under existing law and will keep the United States on a trajectory to achieve deep economy-wide reductions on the order of 80% by 2050.
Ford, GM and AVL researchers argue match-blending a flawed approach to evaluate ethanol-gasoline blends (corrected)
November 06, 2014
(Earlier version attributed the final quote to the research team. Our apologies for the error.)
In a newly published SAE paper, a team from Ford, General Motors and AVL argues that the exclusive use of a match blending approach to prepare ethanol-gasoline blends for regulatory emissions testing “has fundamental flaws”.
This echoes the recent criticism by the Urban Air Initiative (UAI) and the Energy Future Coalition (EFC) that the latest version of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) MOtor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) modeling system for estimating emissions from mobile sources is “seriously flawed” with respect to its reliance on match blending. (Earlier post.)
Volkswagen Group PhD Day in Wolfsburg: 600 experts, 95 theses
November 04, 2014
More than 600 experts attended Volkswagen Group’s PhD Day, when 95 young scientists presented their research findings at the MobileLifeCampus in Wolfsburg, Germany. PhD students from the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, ŠKODA, Audi, Porsche, MAN and Scania brands as well as from Volkswagen Group China presented their doctoral theses on topics from twelve different specialist departments.
26 young scientists conducted research in the field of drive technology; 14 in production; eleven in electronics; 11 in vehicle technology; and nine focused on various aspects of human resources, organization and IT. Their projects focused on topics such as driver assistance systems; personnel development; e-mobility; and sales and marketing. In total, Volkswagen supports some 490 young men and women studying for their doctorates.
ICCT analysis projects new 2020 European car CO2 target value of 100 g/km under WLTP
November 03, 2014
The anticipated transition from the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) for the European type approval procedure for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of cars will result in a new WLTP-based target of 100g CO2/km for 2020, up from 95 g/km, according to a detailed analysis by a team at the the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). If the ambient test temperature is also changed for the EU-WLTP (to 14 °C instead of 23 °C), an additional correction of 2 g CO2/km would be appropriate, making the target 102 g CO2/km, the authors said.
The currently in-use NEDC includes a number of tolerances and flexibilities and no longer accurately reflects current advanced technologies; the gap between official and real-world fuel-economy figures in Europe has risen to about 38%, according to an earlier report published by the ICCT. (Earlier post.) The European Union is planning to replace the NEDC with the newly developed Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure in 2017.
ICCT study finds state EV incentives playing a significant role in driving sales
October 31, 2014
A study by a team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) shows that state electric vehicle incentives are playing a significant early role in reducing the effective cost of ownership and driving electric vehicle sales.
As described in their white paper, “Evaluation of state-level US electric vehicle incentives”, the researchers found that some of the states with the largest electric vehicle incentives—i.e., California, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington—have electric vehicle sales shares that are approximately 2–4 times the national average. A statistical regression revealed that the total monetary benefit to consumers from state incentives significantly positively correlates with BEV sales when all 50 states and the District of Columbia are included.
Opinion: The End Of An Era: Is The US Petrodollar Under Threat?
by Andrew Topf of Oilprice.com
Recent trade deals and high-level cooperation between Russia and China have set off alarm bells in the West as policymakers and oil and gas executives watch the balance of power in global energy markets shift to the East.
The reasons for the cozier relationship between the two giant powers are, of course, rooted in the Ukraine crisis and subsequent Western sanctions against Russia, combined with China’s need to secure long-term energy supplies. However, a consequence of closer economic ties between Russia and China could also mean the beginning of the end of dominance for the US dollar, and that could have a profound impact on energy markets.
European Council endorses 40% GHG cut by 2030; requests ways to cut transport emissions via efficiency, electrification and renewable fuels
October 24, 2014
On 23 October, leaders of the European Union agreed on the climate and energy policy framework for the EU for the period from 2020 to 2030. During its meeting, the European Council endorsed 4 targets: a binding EU target of at least 40% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990; a binding target of at least 27% of renewable energy used at EU level; an energy efficiency increase of at least 27%; and the completion of the EU-internal energy market by reaching an electricity interconnection target of 15% between members states and pushing forward important infrastructure projects.
The Council members also requested further examination by the European Commission on instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology-neutral approach to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency in transport, for electric transportation and for the use of renewable energy sources in transport after 2020.
8 ZEV states announce US ZEV sales top 260,000 units
October 23, 2014
Representatives of an eight-state partnership to develop and to support the market for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) joined California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols in Diamond Bar, California to announce that sales figures from around the country now show ZEV sales of more than 260,000 vehicles, with the quarter-million mark reached in September.
In October 2013, the 8 states signed a memorandum of understanding to take specific actions to put 3.3 million ZEVS on the roads in their states by 2025 (earlier post); the partners released a ZEV Action Plan in June 2014 (earlier post). Californians have purchased or leased more than 100,000 ZEVs. The other seven states—Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—account for more than 135,000 vehicles.
California ARB mods to ZEV regulations for IVMs would result in ~1.9% drop in total ZEV/TZEV units 2018-2025; no impact on air quality requirements
October 20, 2014
Early in September, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced it would consider in a 23-24 October meeting amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the market. (Earlier post.)
Among the proposed changes were additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation (i.e., lower numbers of ZEVs); an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits. ARB staff estimated the proposed modifications could reduce total California deliveries of ZEVs (fuel cell and battery-electric vehicles) and TZEVs (Transition Zero Emission Vehicles, i.e., plug-in hybrids) by a total of about 26,000 units in the 2018 through 2025 timeframe out of the originally estimated 1,400,000 ZEVs and TZEVs for that period under the current regulation—i.e., by about 1.9%. (For MY 2026 and following, the reduced compliance obligation goes away.)
Nissan leads with transfer of California ZEV credits out for year ending 30 Sep 2014
October 17, 2014
|Nissan led with California ZEV credit transfers out during the last report period. Click to enlarge.|
Between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2014, Nissan transferred out 663.6 ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credits from its balance account, according to the latest report by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)—just edging out Tesla with 650.195 credits. The next closest was Fiat, with 235.2 ZEV credits transferred out; followed by Ford with 38.738.
This latest credit balance report reflects ZEV regulation compliance through model year 2013, representing a total of 3.5 million vehicles including: more than 500 fuel cell vehicles; 38,000 battery electric vehicles; 29,300 neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs); 30,000 plug-in hybrids; 570,000 hybrids; and 3 million gasoline vehicles. As of September 2014, more than 100,000 ZEVs and plug-in hybrids are on California roads.
UC Davis ITS study suggests hastening consumer adoption of plug-ins will require innovation on the sales side
October 12, 2014
|Ratings of buyer satisfaction with the new vehicle purchase experience by phase of the purchase process from 2013 SSI buyer index scores. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.|
A study by researchers at the Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis finds that buyers of plug-in vehicles (PEVs) are substantially less satisfied with the dealer purchase experience than buyers of conventional vehicles—with the notable exception of Tesla buyers. A fundamental problem appears to be divergent expectations regarding the level of support buyers receive from dealerships.
In a new working paper, the team contends that PEVs require innovation in how these products are retailed to customers as well as demanding changes in consumer behavior and relying on new support infrastructure. While the diversity of the dealer community could foster innovation in retail activities, the same diversity could also hinder the quality and pace of diffusion amongst dealers. This, in turn, the team suggests, could—through a sub-par purchase experience—hinder the quality and pace of the adoption of plug-in vehicles by customers. This dynamic may have repercussions for achieving ZEV targets and potentially other regulatory objectives, they note.
ICCT study finds real-world NOx emissions from Euro 6 diesels ~7x higher than Euro 6 regulatory levels
On-road NOxemission levels of Euro 6 diesel cars in Europe are on average about seven times higher than the NOx limit set by the Euro 6 emission standard, according to a new report published in Berlin by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The study follows another recent ICCT report showing that the gap between official and real-world fuel-economy figures in Europe has risen to about 38%. (Earlier post.)
The latest study—the most comprehensive report on the real-world behavior of the latest generation of diesel cars published to date—found “remarkable” differences among individual vehicle models, indicating that technologies for real-world clean diesels already exist but are not being employed consistently by different vehicle manufacturers.
UK putting up nearly $18M to establish initial hydrogen refueling network of up to 15 stations
October 09, 2014
UK Business Minister Matthew Hancock announced up to £11 million (US$17.7 million) of funding to help establish an initial network of up to 15 hydrogen refueling stations by the end of 2015. Of the £11 million, £7.5 million (US$12 million) will come from government and £3.5 million (US$5.6 million) from industry. Toyota earlier this month announced that the UK will be one of the first markets for its FCEV when it goes on sale next year.
Of the funding, £2 million (US$3.2 million) will go to upgrade 6 to 8 existing hydrogen refueling stations (already operational or under development in the UK) and take them from demonstrator projects to publicly accessible sites.
Oregon DEQ seeking public comments on implementing Low Carbon Fuel Standard before sunset in 2015
October 06, 2014
Oregon’s Department on Environmental Quality (DEQ) is inviting public comment on a proposed rulemaking that would fully implement Oregon’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS). (Earlier post.) The first phase required Oregon producers and importers of fuels to register with DEQ, keep records and submit reports about the fuels they currently supply. The second phase—the rules for which DEQ is currently seeking comments—require the same parties to meet the low carbon fuel standards by supplying cleaner fuels in Oregon or purchasing credits from clean fuel providers.
The proposed Oregon Clean Fuels Program Phase 2 rules would: implement the enabling legislation of House Bill 2186, originally passed in 2009; establish clean fuel standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Oregon’s transportation fuels by 10% over a 10-year period; and require importers of transportation fuels to reduce the average carbon intensity of fuels they provide in Oregon to meet the annual clean fuel standards.
Study finds solo hybrid drivers in California HOV lanes amplify congestion, create up to $4,500 per car in adverse social costs annually
September 30, 2014
Allowing single-occupant low-emission cars in California to use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on congested highways exacerbates the congestion and causes up to about $4,500 per car in adverse social costs annually, including increased commute times and carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new study in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.
The authors, from Cornell University, University of Colorado, UC Irvine and UC Berkeley, calculated that the Clean Air Vehicle Stickers (CAVS) policy results in a best-case cost of $124 per ton of reductions in greenhouse gases; $606,000 per ton of nitrogen oxides reduction; and $505,000 per ton of hydrocarbon reduction—exceeding those of other options readily available to policymakers.
ICCT: gap between official and real-world fuel economy figures in Europe reaches ~38%; call to implement WLTP ASAP
September 28, 2014
|Divergence of real-world CO2 emissions from manufacturers’ type-approval CO2 emissions for various on-road data sources, including an average estimate for private and company cars as well as all data sources. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.|
The gap between official and real-world fuel-economy figures in Europe has risen to about 38%, according to a new report published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). Ten years ago the discrepancy between these real-world and sales-brochure values was at 10%. The new report—“From Laboratory to Road: 2014 Update”—updates ICCT’s original 2013 report on the growing discrepancy. (Earlier post.)
The new report is based on data from more than half a million private and company vehicles across Europe. The findings come as the European Commission is preparing to adopt an improved test procedure that would produce more realistic vehicle test results.
DOE to award up to $25M in funding for work on cost-effective algal biofuels
September 23, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $25 million in funding to support the development of cost-effective algal biofuels. (Earlier post.) The Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts (TABB) FOA (DE-FOA-0001162) seeks the development of alternative pathways to overcome two of the key barriers to commercializing algal biofuels: the high cost of producing algal biomass and the low yield of target biofuel and bioproduct feedstocks produced from algae.
The goal is to improve DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) 2019 projected cost of algal biofuels from mature technology of about $8 per gallon gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) to less than $5 gge through creation of valuable products alongside fuels and achieving increased biomass productivity that leads to higher feedstock yields.
BIO says EPA inaction on RFS rule causing an increase in GHG emissions
Increased greenhouse gas emissions equal to 4.4 million additional cars on US roads are likely as a result of EPA inaction on finalizing the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules, according to a new white paper issued by The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). The white paper updates earlier BIO’s March 2014 study, “Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Proposed Changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard Through 2022.”
That study demonstrated that if EPA reduced biofuel use under the RFS, as the agency proposed in November 2013, the United States would experience an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and forego an achievable decrease in emissions.
Canada aligns with US on light-duty vehicle GHGs, Tier 3 regulations and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency
Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced developments on three new regulatory initiatives to further support Canada’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide cleaner air through lower air pollutant emissions from cars and trucks. These vehicles and fuels regulatory initiatives are aligned with those of the United States.
GHG regulations. The final Regulations Amending the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations for model year 2017 and beyond will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on 8 October. These regulatory amendments represent further action to reduce GHG emissions while building on the existing Regulations for 2011-2016 model year vehicles.
California governor signs 6 bills to advance state’s electric vehicle market; HOT and HOV benefits
September 22, 2014
Capping off National Drive Electric Week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law half a dozen bills to strengthen California’s best-in-the-nation electric vehicle market, including free or reduced-rate access to new high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, and more HOV stickers for plug-in hybrids.
The action builds on the state’s efforts to support the growth of the electric vehicle market, including legislation Governor Brown signed last year and the executive order he issued in 2012 to establish a target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California by 2025 and a number of other long-term goals. California accounts for 40% of US plug-in electric vehicle sales and earlier this month, surpassed 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles sold. (Earlier post.)
UC Davis, ITDP study suggests global shift to public transport, NMT and away from cars could save $100T through 2050 and cut GHGs
September 19, 2014
One of the more affordable ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions is to design cities to give people clean options for using public transportation, walking and cycling and to move away from car-centric development, according to a new report released by the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).
The study by Michael Replogle, ITDP, and Lewis M. Fulton, UC Davis, examines how major changes in urban transport investments worldwide would affect urban passenger transport emissions as well as mobility by different income groups.
California Energy Commission to award $13M to further ZEVs and advanced vehicle technology manufacturing in the state
September 10, 2014
The California Energy Commission has issued two solicitations for a combined $13.3 million to further advanced ZEV and advanced vehicle technologies in the state. The first, Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Readiness (PON-14-603), will award about $3.3 million to support planning efforts for plug-in and fuel cell vehicles.
The second, Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing (PON-14-604), will award about $10 million to support the development of either full advanced vehicles or advanced vehicle components in the state.
CATARC and UC Davis establish China-US ZEV Policy Lab to accelerate adoption of plug-in and fuel cell cars in US and in China
September 08, 2014
The University of California, Davis, and the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) have entered a new agreement to work together to help speed the commercialization of plug-in and fuel cell electric cars in China. CATARC is China’s the administrative body that oversees and regulates many activities of the auto industry in China, the world’s largest new-car market, and in the US.
The five-year memorandum of understanding, signed on 6 September during the 2014 International Forum on Chinese Automotive Industry Development in Tianjin, China, establishes the China–US ZEV Policy Lab. Primary UC Davis partners are the Institute of Transportation Studies and the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy.
Study: surface ozone in India in 2005 damaged 6M tonnes of crops, enough to feed 94M people in poverty
September 04, 2014
Surface ozone pollution in India damaged 6 million metric tons (6.7 million US tons) of India’s wheat, rice, soybean and cotton crops in 2005, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
India could feed 94 million people with the lost wheat and rice crops, or about a third of the country’s poor, according to Sachin Ghude, an atmospheric scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, India and lead author of the new study. There are about 270 million Indians that live in poverty, according to the study.
California ARB considering modifications to ZEV regs to provide more flexibility for intermediate volume manufacturers
September 03, 2014
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will conduct a public hearing on 23 October to consider amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the advanced technology vehicle market.
The modifications to the ZEV rule, developed by the ARB staff to be presented to the Board at the meeting, provide additional compliance flexibility to the IVMs by providing additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation; an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits.
EPA staff policy assessment recommends reduction in ozone standard from 75 ppb to 60-70 ppb
August 31, 2014
The staff of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) has released the final version of the policy assessment (PA) for the review of the ozone (O3) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Among the staff recommendations are to further reduce the primary ozone standard from the current 75 ppb (parts per billion) to a revised level within the range of 70 ppb to 60 ppb—and preferably below 70 ppb.
Study finds external effects negate Hong Kong local efforts to reduce ozone pollution; multiregional policies needed
August 29, 2014
Researchers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department and UC Irvine present in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology direct evidence that increasing regional effects have negated local control efforts for O3 (ozone) pollution in Hong Kong over the past decade.
The researchers analyzed the daily maximum 8 h average O3 and Ox (=O3+NO2) concentrations observed during the high O3 season (September–November) at Air Quality Monitoring Stations. They found that the locally produced Ox showed a statistically significant decreasing trend over 2002–2013 in Hong Kong. Analysis by an observation-based model confirmed this decline in in situ Ox production, which the team attributed to a reduction in aromatic hydrocarbons.
Study: open trash burning worldwide significantly worsening air pollution; unaccounted for in emission inventories
August 28, 2014
Unregulated open trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) estimates that more than 40% of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.
The new study provides the first rough estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Such pollutants have been linked to serious medical issues. The researchers also estimated emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activity. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
MIT study finds air quality co-benefits of US carbon policies can significantly offset costs, depending upon the policy
August 25, 2014
The human health benefits associated with improvements in air quality related to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions improvements can offset 26–1,050% of the cost of US carbon policies, depending upon the type of policy, according to a new study by a team from MIT. (Air quality co-benefits are additional to climate benefits realized from reduced CO2 emissions.)
In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Science, the MIT researchers took a systems-level approach to analyzing how climate policies influence air quality, focusing on US emissions of O3 and PM2.5 precursors through 2030. They assessed the costs and air-quality-related benefits of three potential national-scale climate policies, examining the entire pathway linking climate policies, economic sector responses, emissions, regional air quality, human health and related economic impacts.