[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.]
EU agreement pushes full implementation of 95 g/km CO2 target for cars back 1 year to 2021, expands use of supercredits
November 27, 2013
The European Parliament (EP) and member state negotiators reached an informal agreement on new rules to achieve the 2020 CO2 emission target of 95 g/km for new cars. Under the new agreement, which must be approved by both the European Parliament and Council to enter into force, 95% of new cars must meet the 95 g/km mandatory target by 2020, and 100% by 2021.
An earlier agreement (earlier post), set aside after EU ministers failed to endorse a previous informal deal on it with Parliament, had envisioned full implementation of the 95-gram target in 2020. Additionally, the new agreement significantly expands the use of supercredits—favorable weightings to cars that emit less than 50 g/km of CO2 within a manufacturer’s range.
California Energy Commission to award up to $29.9M to hydrogen refueling infrastructure projects
November 24, 2013
The California Energy Commission (CEC) will award up to $29.9 million to projects to develop hydrogen refueling infrastructure in California (PON-13-607).
The solicitation has two goals: 1) to develop infrastructure necessary to dispense hydrogen transportation fuel; and 2) to provide needed Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding to support hydrogen refueling operations prior to the large—scale roll—out of Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs). CEC will provide funding to construct, to upgrade, or to support hydrogen refueling stations that expand the network of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations to serve the current population of FCVs and accommodate the planned large—scale roll—out of FCVs beginning in 2015.
EPA proposes reduction in cellulosic biofuel and total renewable fuel standards for 2014
November 15, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a reduction in the cellulosic biofuel and total renewable fuel standards (RFS) for 2014. Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, it will be open to a 60-day public comment period.
Specifically, EPA is proposing a total renewable fuel target of 15.21 billion gallons; the final 2013 overall volumes and standards require 16.55 billion gallons; the original target as specified in the Clean Air Act is 18.15 billion gallons. (Earlier post.) EPA is setting the troublesome cellulosic biofuel target at 17 million gallons—significantly lower than the Clean Air Act (CAA) target of 1.75 billion gallons—but an increase from the 6.0 million gallons specified for 2013. This reflects EPA’s current estimate of the amount of cellulosic biofuel that will actually be produced in 2014, but EPA will consider public comments before setting the final cellulosic standard.
SAE New Energy Vehicle Forum: China’s focus on NEVs may have profound impact on future of transportation
November 13, 2013
China has a number of critical economic and environmental imperatives driving its pursuit of vehicle electrification, said the roster of plenary speakers at the SAE 2013 New Energy Vehicle Forum held in Shanghai this week. These include the increasingly problematic pollution and haze in cities; China’s projected increased reliance on imported oil; the need for rationalized multimodal transportation systems in ever more congested and space-limited cities; the growing dominance of the China auto market; and the desire to have China become the leader in the next generation of automotive technology, vehicles and mobility systems.
The shift from fossil fuels to electricity—while held in common with other countries—will be based on the “specific situation” in China, making the best use of China’s own advantages and innovations, but also with international cooperation, said Dr. Zhixin Wu, Vice President of the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC). The details of that specific situation may result in an electric vehicle parc somewhat different than in Western countries, other speakers noted, and may indeed—given the obvious scale of the China market—herald a major transformation in transportation, including the type and role of personal vehicles, others suggested.
Global Commercial Vehicle Industry Meeting endorses harmonized global approach to improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHGs
November 09, 2013
Leading global manufacturers of heavy-duty commercial trucks and engines gathering at the annual Global Commercial Vehicle Industry Meeting endorsed a harmonized global approach as an effective pathway to further improve energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commercial vehicles. The manufacturers have been pursuing policy cooperation for a number of years. (Earlier post.)
Meeting in Chicago, the chief executives of commercial vehicle and engine manufacturers in Europe, Japan, and the United States discussed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, diesel fuel specifications, and topics related to heavy-duty engine and vehicle regulation and certification.
GFEI report suggests $2T savings from fuel economy improvements in ICE vehicles through 2025 can help fund long-term transition to plug-ins
November 08, 2013
Fuel economy improvements from conventional internal combustion engine cars can save an estimated $2 trillion in fuel costs through 2025—and more in years after—according to a new working paper published by the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) prepared by Dr. Lew Fulton, Co-Director, NextSTEPS Program at the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Davis.
The GFEI, a partnership of international agencies and top energy policy experts, suggests that these cost savings could in part be used to help offset the costs of developing a global market for electric vehicles over this time frame, since the savings are estimated to be at least four times bigger than these costs.
DOE Inspector General criticizes agency’s handling of disclosures over Ecotality awards
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued a report concluding that DOE “had not fully disclosed known concerns regarding Ecotality’s ability to meet its EV project obligations” to the Office of Inspector General prior to completion of an earlier audit, and thus prior to Ecotality’s bankruptcy filing in September. (Earlier post.)
The OIG concluded that DOE had not provided information that raised questions about Ecotality’s ability to meet its project goals, including completing planned EV charger installations and the collection of EV usage data—even though the data had a “readily apparent” connection to the OIG audit then underway.
ICCT report finds global implementation of advanced emissions and fuel-quality regs could cut early deaths from vehicle emissions by 75% in 2030
November 06, 2013
|Global trends in vehicle-kilometers traveled (VKT) and early deaths from vehicle-related fine particle exposure (2000–2030). Chambliss et al. Click to enlarge.|
Although many countries have adopted emission control regulations patterned on the European regulations, the significant majority of these have not implemented the latest and most stringent Euro 6/VI stage. A study by a team at the the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) finds that if that lag persists and present trends in vehicle activity continue, early deaths from vehicle-related PM2.5 exposure in urban areas will increase 50% by 2030, compared to 2013.
Conversely, the report finds, if all countries were to follow an accelerated roadmap to Euro 6/VI-level regulations, in tandem with fuel-quality regulations limiting sulfur content to 10 to 15 parts per million (ppm), early deaths globally from road vehicle emissions would fall by 75% (200,000) in the year 2030, representing a cumulative savings of 25 million additional years of life.
Berkeley Lab modeling study finds California will not meet 2050 GHG targets without additional policy measures
November 05, 2013
|Comparison of GHG emissions by study scenario, along with historical and “straight-line” connections between 2020 and 2050 policy targets. 85 MtCO2/yr (red square) is the 2050 target. Greenblatt 2013. Click to enlarge.|
California will attain its 2020 statewide greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to a new modeling study by Jeffery Greenblatt at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
However, while all of the three scenarios developed for the study achieved the 2020 target, none were able to achieve the 2050 GHG target of 85 MtCO2/yr, instead yielding emissions ranging from 188 to 444 MtCO2/yr. Therefore, Greenblatt concluded, additional policies will need to be developed for California to meet this stringent future target.
Brookings analysts recommend against repeating cash for clunkers program in future recession
November 03, 2013
According to a new paper and policy brief by Brookings, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or “cash for clunkers” program, launched during the height of the recession with the intention of stimulating the economy and reducing emissions, actually resulted in only a small and short-lived impact on GDP; a higher implied cost per job created than alternative fiscal stimulus programs; and a higher cost per ton of CO2 reduced than what would be achieved through a policy such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade.
However, the cost of CO2 reduced was comparable or lower than that achieved through less cost-effective policies such as the tax subsidy for electric vehicles, the analysis concluded. In terms of distributional effects, compared to households that purchased a new or used vehicle in 2009 without a voucher, CARS program participants had a higher before-tax income, were older, more likely to be white, more likely to own a home, and more likely to have a high-school and a college degree.
MIT study cautions smaller nations on rushing to develop their natural gas resources; Cyprus as model
October 27, 2013
|Cyprus offshore hydrocarbon exploration blocks. Paltsev et al. Click to enlarge.|
Based on the interim results of a new study, MIT researchers are warning smaller nations to proceed with caution in pursuing the development of their natural gas resources. The study is a part of of a larger report that will further take into account the changing dynamics of the regional and global gas markets, giving a comprehensive view of the implications for the long-term development of natural gas in Cyprus and other like nations.
The interim report analyzed the economics of natural gas project development options in Cyprus with a focus on exports. (The authors noted that Cyprus will have sufficient resources for developing export capabilities regardless of the extent of domestic gas substitution in the coming years, given its rather small energy consumption profile.) The report explored three major options for monetizing the resource: an onshore LNG plant; a transnational undersea pipeline; and the deployment of a CNG marine transport system. The researchers expect to finish the larger report in August 2014; the study is sponsored by The Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation.
Governors of 8 states sign MoU to put 3.3M zero-emission vehicles on roads by 2025; 15% of new vehicle sales
October 24, 2013
The governors of 8 states—California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to take specific actions to put 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the roads in their states by 2025, along with the refueling infrastructure required to support those vehicles. Zero-emission vehicles include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles; the technologies can be applied in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses.
The 3.3 million ZEVs would represent a new vehicle market penetration for the group of states of about 15%, said Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), during a conference call announcing the agreement. This multi-state effort is intended to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23% of the US car market.
USDA announces availability of $181M to support development of advanced biofuels projects
October 21, 2013
US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $181 million via its Biorefinery Assistance Program to develop commercial-scale biorefineries or retrofit existing facilities with appropriate technology to develop advanced biofuels.
The Biorefinery Assistance Program was created through the 2008 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA Rural Development. It provides loan guarantees to viable commercial-scale facilities to develop new and emerging technologies for advanced biofuels. Eligible entities include Indian tribes, State or local governments, corporations, farmer co-ops, agricultural producer associations, higher education institutions, rural electric co-ops, public power entities or consortiums of any of the above.
Tesla leads with transfer of ZEV credits for year ending 30 Sep 2013
October 17, 2013
|Tesla by far dominated the transfer of ZEV credits in California in 2012. Data: ARB. Click to enlarge.|
Between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013, electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors transferred out 1,311.520 ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credits, according to the latest report by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)—by far, the largest of any automaker in the state. The next closest was Toyota, with 507.5 credits; Nissan only transferred 25 credits, and those generated from its PZEVs—not from the LEAF EV.
As of 30 September, Tesla still had a balance of 276.080 credits, according to the data; behind the six major automakers, who are mostly banking their credits.
Ford study suggests GDI engines can meet coming California and US PM emissions standards over 150k miles; more work to be done
October 16, 2013
|PM mass emissions rates for the FTP and US06 drive cycles as function of vehicle mileage. Credit: ACS, Maricq et al. Click to enlarge.|
A team from Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn examined how emissions of particulate matter (PM) from two gasoline direct injection engines—a very small set and not representative of the wide variety of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines currently in production or under future development, they noted—changed over time.
As reported in a paper in ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, the results showed that GDI technology has the potential to meet the upcoming California LEV III and US EPA Tier 3 PM mass standard of 3 mg/mi (phasing in over MY2017−2021) over a 150,000-mile vehicle lifetime, but that further work must be done to address achieving the more stringent 1 mg/mi target (LEV III in 2025).
Univ. of Illinois team argues that renewable fuel standard needs to be modified, not repealed
A policy analysis by two University of Illinois researchers argues that Congress should minimally modify, not repeal, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In the study, law professor Jay P. Kesan and Timothy A. Slating, a regulatory associate with the Energy Biosciences Institute, argue that RFS mandates ought to be adjusted to reflect current and predicted biofuel commercialization realities; that its biofuel categories be expanded to encompass all emerging biofuel technologies; and that its biomass sourcing constraints be relaxed.
In the paper, to be published in the NYU Environmental Law Journal, Kesan and Slating contend that the RFS can serve as a “model policy instrument” for the federal support of all types of socially beneficial renewable energy technologies.
Car Charging Group acquires Blink-related charging assets of ECOtality; Access Control Group and Intertek buyers of other assets
October 11, 2013
Blink Acquisition, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Car Charging Group, Inc., a nationwide provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging services, won the bid to purchase the Blink-related assets of bankrupt ECOtality. (Earlier post.) The assets included in the transaction are all of Blink’s inventory: more than 12,450 installed electric vehicle Level II charging stations; the 110 DC Fast charging station;, and the Blink network, which is the turnkey operating system for EV drivers, commercial businesses, and utilities, that services the Blink stations.
Blink Acquisition is paying $3,335,000 in cash, plus payment or satisfaction of cure costs and the assumption of Assumed Liabilities (i.e., agreements with the US government). The Blink deal does not include Minit-Charger, which manufactures and distributes fast-charging systems for material handling and airport ground support vehicles; this business was acquired for $250,000 by Access Control Group. Nor does it include ETEC LABS, ECOtality’s research and testing resource for governments, automotive OEMs and utilities; this was acquired by Intertek Testing for $750,000.
Navigant Research projects global market for plug-in charging equipment to grow to 4.3M units and $5.8B in revenue in 2022
October 02, 2013
The market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) has expanded in recent years in parallel with the deployment of publicly accessible charging stations, mainly funded by government programs. According to a new report from Navigant Research, there are now almost 64,000 public charging stations installed globally. Overall, Navigant Research expects global sales of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to grow from around 442,000 units in 2013 to 4.3 million in 2022, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.8%. The company expects revenue from the sales of EVSE to grow from $567 million in 2013 to $5.8 billion in 2022 at a CAGR of 29.4%.
Residential EVSE sales are directly driven by the increase in PEV sales, as many drivers purchase a charger for exclusive use at home. Commercial charging, which includes workplace, public and private chargers, is more indirectly tied to PEV growth and is still driven to a great degree by government support, the market research firm observed. However, this dynamic is changing, as government programs in some regions are coming to a close.
CARB draft of updated AB 32 Scoping Plan for climate change actions post-2020; pushing for greater transportation reductions
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released the public discussion draft of the required update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. (Earlier post.) The Scoping Plan describes the comprehensive range of efforts California must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and meet the state’s long-term goals to combat climate change.
AB 32 requires the Scoping Plan to be updated every five years. The original Plan, first released in 2008, was developed on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions and grow California’s economy in a clean and sustainable direction. This draft update continues with that approach and focuses on three questions:
DOE proposing $100M in FY2014 for 2nd round of funding for Energy Frontier Research Centers
October 01, 2013
US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a proposed $100 million in FY2014 funding for Energy Frontier Research Centers; research supported by this initiative will enable fundamental advances in energy production and use.
The Department of Energy (DOE) currently funds 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), which were selected for five-year funding in 2009. (Earlier post.) With support for those centers set to expire in July 2014, DOE has announced a “re-competition” for a second round of funding (DE-FOA-0001010).
California Governor signs 6 bills to support burgeoning EV market, including $2B AB 8
September 28, 2013
Marking National Plug-in Day (NPID), California Governor Jerry Brown signed 6 bills to support California’s burgeoning electric vehicle market, including the $2-billion AB 8 (earlier post), which will continue clean vehicle and fuel incentives through 2023.
The legislation builds on the state’s efforts to help California’s electric vehicle market grow, including an Executive Order issued by Governor Brown that established a target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California by 2025 and a number of other long-term goals. The newly signed bills are:
ACEEE recommends steps for enhanced data gathering and analysis essential to developing next phase of heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and GHG regs
September 27, 2013
A newly released working paper from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) outlines the organization’s recommendations to policymakers for developing the next phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles in the United States expected in 2015.
The focus of the paper is less on the range of technologies that might be applied to deliver the requisite reductions (ACEEE also published a short fact sheet briefly touching on technology approaches) and more on enhanced and improved data gathering, analysis and dissemination that will be required to inform the development of the next phase of the standards.
U-Mich researcher’s first-principles analysis challenges conventional carbon accounting for biofuels; implications for climate policy
September 24, 2013
In a paper that could have a significant impact on climate policies for transportation fuels, Dr. John M. DeCicco of the Energy Institute at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor presents a rigorous first-principles analysis that undermines the common “biofuels recycle carbon” argument.
Published in the journal Climactic Change, the open access paper shows that while the carbon mitigation challenge for liquid fuels has been seen—incorrectly—as a fuel synthesis and substitution problem, it is in reality a net carbon uptake problem. Accordingly, DeCicco concludes, strategies should move away from a downstream focus on replacing fuel products to an upstream focus on achieving additional CO2 uptake through the most cost-effective and least damaging means possible. “All parties with an interest in the issue are advised to rethink their priorities accordingly,” he finishes.
One way or another, Fisker Automotive may soon be off the market
September 23, 2013
by Keith Patterson
Two German investors, Ingo Voigt and Fritz Nol, announced their intent to buy Fisker Automotive, the failing plug-in hybrid car company, on 11 September. The team submitted a detailed offer to the US Department of Energy (DOE) along with a letter of intent for restructuring Fisker.
The purchase funds for Fisker would in theory go directly to the DOE since the government agency loaned the auto company a large sum of money before it stopped production more than a year ago. Though the Voight/Nol offer amount has not yet been made public, many predict the company will sell for $25 million to $50 million. However, subsequent to the Voight/Nol offer, DOE announced it would auction off the remainder of Fisker’s loan obligation, “after exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that might have protected our entire investment.” [See sidebar.]
EPA proposes CO2 emission standards for new fossil fuel-fired power plants
September 20, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed Clean Air Act standards to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants (electric utility generating units, EGUs). For purposes of this rule, fossil fuel-fired EGUs include utility boilers, IGCC units and certain natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbine EGUs that generate electricity for sale and are larger than 25 megawatts (MW). In addition, EPA said it is working with state, tribal, and local governments, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others to establish CO2 standards for existing power plants.
The proposed rulemaking establishes separate standards for natural gas and coal plants. The proposed limits for natural gas units are based on the performance of modern natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units. New large (>850 mmBtu/h) natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small (≤850mmBtu/h) natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
Ford launches electric vehicle charging network for employees; hoping to increase number of all-electric trips
September 16, 2013
Ford Motor Company is installing a new workplace plug-in vehicle charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the US and Canada. Ford will install charging stations at more than 50 company offices, product development campuses and manufacturing facilities. Installation will begin later this year and roll out throughout 2014.
Ford employees will be able to charge the all-electric Focus Electric, as well as Ford’s two plug-in hybrids—the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi—at the charge stations. The service will initially be free to employees for the first four hours. Ford estimates it will cost the company about $0.50 fully to charge a vehicle.
FAA launches new Center of Excellence for alternative jet fuels; $40M in funding over 10 years
September 13, 2013
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected a team of universities to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for alternative jet fuels and the environment. Led by Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the COE will explore ways to meet the environmental and energy goals that are part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
Core team partners include Boston University; Oregon State University; Purdue University; the University of Dayton; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the University of Pennsylvania; the University of Washington; Missouri University of Science and Technology; Georgia Institute of Technology; Pennsylvania State University; Stanford University; the University of Hawaii; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of Tennessee.
OIG audit finds DOE has not achieved biorefinery goals despite 7 years and $603 million spent
An audit report released by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that despite more than 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, DOE had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals.
Specifically, the audit found, the mandate to demonstrate the commercial application of integrated biorefineries had not been met and DOE was not on target to meet its biofuels production capacity goal. Although DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BTO) reported meeting its goal to demonstrate the successful operation of three integrated biorefineries by 2012, OIG noted that these biorefineries were primarily much smaller pilot projects rather than commercial scale.
European Parliament backs 6% cap on land-based biofuels, switchover to advanced biofuels; no mandate
September 11, 2013
In a vote on draft legislation, the European Parliament has backed a cap on the use of biofuels produced from starch-rich crops, sugars, oil and other crops grown on land and a speedy switchover to new biofuels from alternative sources such as seaweed and waste. The measures aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the turnover of agricultural land to biofuel production.
According to current legislation, member states must ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10% of energy consumption in transport by 2020. In the adopted text, MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) say land-based biofuels should not exceed 6% of the final energy consumption in transport by 2020. (The proposal by the European Commission on which the draft legislation was based had suggested an even lower 5% cap.)
ARB hosting public hearing on ZEV modifications; battery swapping out for fast refueling of ZEVs
September 10, 2013
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will conduct a public hearing on 24 October in Sacramento to consider minor proposed amendments to the California Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation being put forward by ARB staff. (Earlier post.)
In January 2012, the ARB approved the Advanced Clean Cars program, which included increased ZEV requirements through 2025 model year, and the next generation of light duty greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutant emission standards (LEV III). (Earlier post.) This program combined the control of smog-causing pollutants and GHG emissions into a single coordinated package of requirements for model years 2017 through 2025.
Georgia Tech study suggests unlinking EVs from CAFE and coordinating with power sector for low-cost benefits
September 08, 2013
A team from Georgia Tech suggests, based on their modeling of electric vehicle (EV) adoption scenarios in each of six regions of the Eastern Interconnection (containing 70% of the US population), that coordinating EV adoption with the adoption of controlled EV charging, unlinking EVs from consideration in the CAFE fuel economy regulations; and implementing renewable electricity standards would deliver low-cost reductions in emissions and gasoline usage. (For the study, they define EVs as including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles.
Only in the case of high EV market share and a high renewable electricity standard (RES) do EVs make a material contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, they found. However, managed EV adoption can reduce the cost of achieving GHG reductions through a RES, they concluded in their paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
UK launches new ultra low emission vehicles strategy; focus on nurturing the industry
September 05, 2013
UK Transport Minister Norman Baker launched the government’s latest strategy—Driving the Future Today: A strategy for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK—to advance the ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) industry with a focus on economic development in the UK. The government’s vision, said Minister Baker, “is that by 2050 almost every car and van will be an ultra low emission vehicle with the UK at the forefront of their design, development and manufacture. This strategy moves us up a gear in pursuing that vision.”
The principles behind the strategy include focusing on inward investment and the supply chain; technological neutrality, i.e., specifying the bulk of policies in output rather than technology terms; and addressing market failure. Accordingly, a great deal of effort and funding will flow to programs to incent adoption and to establish plug-in charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructures.
Study finds power law scaling relationship between urban population and NO2 pollution
August 25, 2013
A study by NASA scientists and their colleagues at Dalhousie University (Canada) and NOAA based on satellite data has found a significant correlation of surface nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with population in the three countries and one continent examined: United States (r = 0.71), Europe (r = 0.67), China (r = 0.69), and India (r = 0.59). These regions contain two-thirds of total global anthropogenic NOx emissions. NO2 is released primarily from combustion processes, such as traffic, is a short-lived atmospheric pollutant that serves as an air-quality indicator, and is itself a health concern.
Urban NO2 pollution, they found, like other urban properties, is a power law scaling function of the population size: NO2 concentration increases proportional to population raised to an exponent. (Even though larger cities are typically more energy efficient with lower per-capita emissions, more people still translates to more pollution.) The value of the exponent varies by region from 0.36 for India to 0.66 for China, reflecting regional differences in industrial development and per capita emissions. The study was published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Study explores long-term trends in motor vehicle emissions in US urban areas; targeting high-emitters
August 19, 2013
|The study found that the highest-emitting 10% of gasoline vehicles are now responsible for the overwhelming majority of running CO, NMHC, and NOx. Credit: ACS, McDonald et al. Click to enlarge.|
A study of motor vehicle emissions by researchers at UC Berkeley found that running CO and evaporative and tailpipe NMHC emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles in three major US urban centers (NY, LA and Houston) have decreased by almost an order of magnitude over the last twenty years, despite increases in fuel use.
However, they also found that decreases in emissions of these pollutants appear to be slowing down and may have leveled off. Their findings show that the success in control of emission from gasoline vehicles has led to greater skew in emission factor distributions, such that the highest-emitting 10% of vehicles are now responsible for the overwhelming majority of running CO and NOx. If progress in reducing emissions is to continue, they concluded, vigorous efforts will be needed to identify and repair or replace high-emitting vehicles. Their study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
NASA rolls out new strategic vision for aeronautics research
August 15, 2013
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden unveiled a new strategic vision better to align the work of the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) to address looming challenges in global air transportation. Bolden shared the strategic vision in a keynote speech at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Aviation 2013 conference in Los Angeles.
The new vision addresses three “mega-drivers” that are expected to alter aviation during the next 20 to 40 years: significant growth in planet-wide demand for air mobility, prompted by Asian market growth and global urbanization; mounting concerns related to climate and energy; and the convergence of technologies ranging from new materials to embedded sensors to ubiquitous networking.
New York launches $19M truck voucher incentive program; $9M for EVs, $10M for alt fuels
August 09, 2013
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $19-million New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program to encourage the purchase of battery-electric commercial trucks as well as other energy-efficient transportation, including hybrid and CNG (compressed natural gas) trucks. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) estimates that this program could encourage the purchase or retrofit of up to 1,000 low-emission trucks in areas of the state with the poorest air quality.
The truck voucher program will include two voucher funds: $9 million for battery-electric truck vouchers offered in 30 counties around the state that did not meet federal clean air standards, primarily downstate New York, the Capital Region and Western New York; and a $10-million alternative fuels voucher fund for New York City, which also includes compressed natural gas, hybrid-electric vehicles and retrofitting diesel engines with emission control devices.
Interim report from Germany’s KBA finds no sufficient evidence of risk with use of R1234yf refrigerant
Independent testing by Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority) has found that while there is “no sufficient evidence of a serious risk” as defined by the Product Safety Act (ProdSG) related to the use of the low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant R-1234yf.
The tests were conducted under the auspices of and on behalf of the KBA in cooperation with the Federal Highway Research Institute, Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, and the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the test parameters jointly developed by TÜV Rheinland.
EPA sets 2013 percentages for Renewable Fuel Standard; anticipating adjustments to 2014 volume requirements
August 06, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2013 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The final 2013 overall volumes and standards require 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the US fuel supply (a 9.74% blend).
The 2013 standard specifically requires: biomass-based diesel (1.28 billion gallons; 1.13%); advanced biofuels (2.75 billion gallons; 1.62%); and cellulosic biofuels (6.00 million gallons; 0.004%). These standards reflect EPA’s updated production projections. All volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel which is actual volume.
Exploring the adoption of EVs in the US, Europe and China; charging scenarios and infrastructure
|Aspirational targets among seven countries participating in the Electric Vehicle Initiative would see growth from just under 2 million EV and PHEVs to just under 20 million by 2020. Source: “Electric Vehicle Grid Integration”. Click to enlarge.|
A recently published paper by M.J. Bradley & Associates, commissioned by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), examines key drivers of EV adoption in the US, Europe and China, with an emphasis on vehicle charging scenarios and infrastructure.
This report examines hurdles to EV adoption in these regions, and identifies critical success factors that should guide policymakers in the transportation and electric sectors. Accelerating the pace of EV market growth requires a coordinated evolution in both sectors, the report argues, from the power plant to the charging station to the vehicle. Supportive policies should work to ensure that EV owners are able to capture the full economic value of their decision to fuel switch from electricity to gasoline, including any benefits to the grid operator, and any emission reduction benefits, in addition to realizing the savings from replacing gasoline or diesel fuel with electricity.
“Big data” analysis of Beijing taxi fleet suggests maximum electrification subsidy benefit from targeting medium-range plug-in hybrids
August 02, 2013
A pair of researchers at the University of Michigan have used “big data” mining techniques to evaluate the impact of adopting plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the Beijing taxi fleet on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions based on the characterized individual travel patterns.
Although the results are based on a specific public fleet, the study demonstrates the benefit of using large-scale individual-based trajectory data (big data) to better understand environmental implications of fleet electrification and inform better decision making, Hua Cai and Ming Xu suggested in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. This research represents the first of a series of studies exploring the role of big data in environmental systems analysis for the emerging PHEV/BEV systems.
Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi agree to joint development of charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles in Japan
July 29, 2013
Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation jointly announced their agreement to work together to promote the installation of chargers for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)—(plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (EVs)—and to build a charging network service that offers more convenience to drivers in Japan. (Earlier post.)
The partners said the move is in recognition of the need for the swift development of a charging infrastructure facilities to promote the use of electric-powered vehicles. Assisted by subsidies provided by the Japanese government, the four automakers will bear part of the cost to install the charging facilities. They will also work together to build a convenient and accessible charging network in collaboration with companies that are already providing charging services in which each of the four automakers already have a financial stake.
JRC assesses EU RD&D investments in electric-drive vehicles; controls and energy storage top the list
July 20, 2013
|Distribution of total investments and public co-funding in publicly co-funded R&D projects. Controls and energy storage top the list. Source: JRC. Click to enlarge.|
A report from the JRC on research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects on electric drive vehicles (not including fuel cell vehicles) in the EU finds that increased exchange of information and more coordination between projects would result in a better leverage of the investments—at this point, some €1.9 billion (US$2.5 billion), 65% from public funding. The JRC (Joint Research Centre) is the European Commission’s (EC’s) in-house science service.
The report is the third in a series that deals with aspects of electromobility in Europe. Its goal was to collect the information on all on-going or recently concluded RD&D projects on electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which received EU or national public funding with a budget of more than €1 million (US$1.3 million), in order to assess which of the electric drive vehicles (EDV) challenges are addressed by these projects and to identify potential gaps in the RD&D landscape in Europe.
New MECA report calls for implementation of particle number (PN) limits by North American regulators
July 19, 2013
|Particle number vs. particle mass for various LDV engine technologies. Source: MECA, Ford Motor Company. Click to enlarge.|
North American environmental regulators should consider taking action on particle number (PN) limits as a complement to their already world-best PM mass standards, according to a new report released by the Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA).
The report, “Ultrafine Particulate Matter and the Benefits of Reducing Particle Numbers in the United States”, first summarizes the current understanding of the potential adverse health impacts of ultrafine particles (UFPs, particles that are finer than 0.1 microns in diameter); then outlines various control strategies and technologies that can be used to meet current and upcoming EPA standards; documents the successful use of diesel particulate filters (DPFs) to meet and exceed US and European emission standards; and then makes the argument for PN limits.
IEA report finds “avoid, shift and improve” policies for urban transport could deliver up to $70T in savings through 2050
July 18, 2013
|Expected urban private motorized travel (in passenger kilometers). Source: IEA. Click to enlarge.|
Policies that improve the energy efficiency of urban transport systems could help save as much as US$70 trillion in spending on vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure between now and 2050, according to a recently released report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Among the three broad categories of policies recommended in the report and policy guide, “A Tale of Renewed Cities”, are those that allow travel to be avoided; those that shift travel to more efficient modes; and those that improve the efficiency of vehicle and fuel technologies. The report notes that if fully implemented across the transportation sector, this “avoid, shift and improve” approach could deliver the up to US$70 trillion in savings.
UK government and industry to invest >$1.5B in Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for low carbon vehicles; technology roadmaps for 5 priority areas
July 12, 2013
The UK government and automotive industry are investing £500 million (US$755 million) each over the next 10 years in an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to research, to develop and to commercialize the technologies for the low carbon vehicles of the future. Backed by 27 companies in the sector, including supply chain companies, the commitment is expected to secure at least 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain.
The investment forms part of the report “Driving success – an industrial strategy for growth and sustainability in the UK automotive sector”, published jointly by the government and industry. It follows the recent plans for construction, aerospace and other key sectors to secure sustainable future growth in the economy.
European Commission launches new $1.8-billion fuel cell and hydrogen research initiative
July 10, 2013
The European Commission is launching a second phase of the first Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (FCH) Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) set up in 2008. The new Fuel Cells & Hydrogen 2 Initiative—with a proposed combined 50:50 EU-industry budget of €1.4 billion (US$1.8 billion)—will continue to develop a portfolio of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies to the point of market introduction. The new FCH 2 JTI is expected to start in 2014 and will end in 2024.
The JTI is one of five announced as part of a new EU-industry investment of €22 billion (US$28 billion) in research and innovation. The other JTIs address innovative medicines; aeronautics; bio-based industries; and electronics.
ARB researchers evaluate in-use heavy-duty NOx aftertreatment systems, find elevated levels during certain lower-temperature operations
July 09, 2013
A team from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) reports on their evaluation of the in-use emissions performance of four different heavy-duty diesel engines certified to the MY 2010 or interim MY 2010 NOx standards over a wide range of driving conditions in California in a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
One of the trucks was equipped with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR); three were equipped with EGR and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) device. The results indicated that brake-specific NOx emissions for the truck equipped only with an EGR were independent of the driving conditions—and exceeded the certification value over each segment of the entire test route. Results also showed that for typical highway driving conditions, the SCR technology is proving to be effective in controlling NOx emissions. However, they also found that under operations where the SCR systems do not reach minimum operating temperature—e.g., cold starts and some low-load/slow-speed driving conditions—NOx emissions are still elevated.
Navigant forecasts US military spending on non-tactical alt drive vehicles to more than double to $926M by 2020 from 2013; 11.4% CAGR
July 05, 2013
|Non-tactical vehicle spending by alternative drive type, US Department of Defense: 2013-2020. Source: Navigant Research. Click to enlarge.|
In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that US military spending on alternative drive vehicles (ADVs—including hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), and ethanol-powered vehicles—for the non-tactical fleet will increase from more than $435 million in 2013 to $926 million by 2020, a CAGR of 11.4%. A majority of the growth will be made through spending on HEVs and PEVs, Navigant projects.
Navigant forecasts that annual fuel consumption in the non-tactical fleet will decrease by a 2.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) almost from more than 81 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs) in 2013 to just fewer than 70 million GGEs in 2020 due in part to increased use of alternative fuel vehicles.
DOE releases draft of $8B loan guarantee solicitation for advanced fossil energy projects
July 03, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released a draft for comment of an $8-billion loan guarantee solicitation for innovative and advanced fossil energy projects and facilities that substantially reduce greenhouse gas and other air pollution. The program is part of President Obama’s climate action plan. (Earlier post.)
The Advanced Fossil Energy Projects solicitation, authorized by Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 through Section 1703 of the Loan Guarantee Program, will be open for comments from industry, stakeholders, and the public until early September.
Advanced Biofuels USA introduces “E30 Capable” high-octane fuels concept in EPA Tier 3 comments
July 02, 2013
Biofuel advocacy group Advanced Biofuels introduced the concept of “E30 Capable” vehicles as part of its comments to the the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recently proposed Tier 3 motor vehicle fuel and emission rulemaking. (Earlier post.)
As part of the Tier 3 requirements, EPA proposes allowing vehicle manufacturers to request approval for an alternative certification fuel—such as a high-octane 30% ethanol by volume (E30) blend—for vehicles they might design or optimize for use on such a fuel. (Earlier post.) Advanced Biofuels suggests that “E30 Capable” vehicles can serve a practical key to transitioning to higher percentage blends of affordable renewable transportation fuels. Elements of the proposal include:
CEPS task force report identifies tightening emissions standards as key policy to hit EU 60% reduction in transport GHG; full life-cycle emissions optimal metric
July 01, 2013
The report from a task force assembled by the CEPS (Centre for European Policy Studies), a Brussels-based think tank, on European transport policy has concluded that the EU’s goal of a 60% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction in the transport sector in 2050 compared to 1990 levels is possible, but at a cost.
Achieving the goal will require a comprehensive policy strategy that needs to be both “credible and adequate”, the report found. Credibility requires beginning to implement policies now—i.e. measures such as standards, taxation or infrastructure development—consistent with the long-term objective. Adequacy requires the measures, in their entirety, to have the potential to meet the target while neither undermining the internal market for transport nor its affordability.
Obama climate plan calls for new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles post-2018; cleaner fuels and investment in advanced fossil energy
June 25, 2013
Among the transportation-related elements of US President Barack Obama’s new climate action plan, which he is outlining today in a speech at Georgetown University, is the development of new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles post-2018. In 2011, the Obama Administration finalized the first fuel economy standards for Model Year 2014-2018 for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans. (Earlier post.)
The plan as outlined also calls for further work on advanced biofuels, advanced batteries and fuel cell technologies in every transportation mode. In coming months, the plan notes, the Department of Transportation will work with other agencies to further explore strategies for integrating alternative fuel vessels into the US flag fleet.
White House announces new commitments in support of Materials Genome Initiative
June 24, 2013
The Obama Administration and academic and industry partners announced a series of commitments in support of the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI, earlier post), a public-private endeavor that aims to cut in half the time it takes to develop novel materials that can fuel advanced manufacturing.
The MGI, overseen by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, helps to coordinate Federal materials science research across multiple agencies and encourages private-sector and academic researchers to develop and share basic materials science discovery data to speed innovation—much as geneticists accelerated the Human Genome Project by openly sharing basic DNA sequence data. Newly announced commitments are:
SAE CRP1234-4 finds refrigerant R-1234yf low risk in automotive applications
SAE’s Cooperative Research Project (CRP) team has wrapped up its latest study of the low global warming potential refrigerant R-1234yf and concluded again that risks of fire resulting from its use are still very small compared to the risks of a vehicle fire from all causes and well below risks that are commonly viewed as acceptable by the general public. (Earlier post.)
Based on the updated analysis, the estimated overall risk of vehicle fire exposure attributed to use of R-1234yf is conservatively estimated at 3 x 10-12 events per vehicle operating hour. This is nearly six orders of magnitude less than the current risk of vehicle fires due to all causes (approximately 1 x 10-6 per vehicle operating hour) and also well below other risks accepted by the general public.
Siemens presents three-point plan for implementing cost-efficient energy transition in Germany
June 15, 2013
Germany has embarked on a large-scale Energiewende (energy transition)—a policy-driven shift away from nuclear and fossil energy to a renewable energy economy. Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the Federal government oversaw the immediate closure of eight nuclear plants, with the rest of the stations to be shut down by 2022. The government also is maintaining its target of cutting GHG emissions by 40% by 2020 (compared with 1990 levels) and by 80% by 2050.
However, the financial cost of the shift is causing concern. In May, the International Energy Agency released a review of German energy policies that commended the country for its commitment to developing a low-carbon energy system over the long term, but emphasized that further policy measures are necessary if the Energiewende is to maintain a balance between sustainability, affordability and competitiveness. “The fact that German electricity prices are among the highest in Europe, despite relatively low wholesale prices, must serve as a warning signal,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven as she presented the report, Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Germany 2013 Review.
Study finds that California clean diesel programs have slashed black carbon, a powerful short-term contributor to global warming
June 14, 2013
|California’s air quality programs have forced a reduction in black carbon despite a significant increase in diesel fuel consumption. Click to enlarge.|
In California, reductions in emissions of black carbon since the late 1980s—mostly from diesel engines as a result of air quality programs—have resulted in a measurable reduction of concentrations of global warming pollutants in the atmosphere, according to a study examining the impact of black carbon on California’s climate.
The study’s results support a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests it is possible relatively quickly to slow the pace of climate change regionally by reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, like black carbon.
Calif. Energy Commission to award more than $44M for hydrogen refueling and alternative fuel vehicle projects
June 13, 2013
In two packages of awards, the California Energy Commission approved more than $44 million to expand the hydrogen fueling infrastructure and increase the number of alter alternative fuel vehicles on the road in the state.
These awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. For the current fiscal year, the program is slated to invest approximately $90 million to encourage the development and use of new technologies, and alternative and renewable fuels, to help the state meet its climate-change goals. It is paid for through surcharges on vehicle and boat registrations, and smog check and license plate fees.
USDA announces up to $98.6M to support production of advanced biofuels
June 12, 2013
The US Department of Agriculture USDA announced the availability of up to $98.6 million to support the production of advanced biofuels, and an opportunity for eligible producers to submit applications. Of the $98.6 million, $68.6 million will be available for Fiscal Year 2013 production and the remainder of approximately $30 million is for payments for production in prior fiscal years.
The payments are provided through USDA Rural Development’s Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, commonly referred to as the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program. It was established in the 2008 Farm Bill to support the expansion of advanced biofuel production. Payments are made to eligible producers based on the amount of biofuel produced from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch.
DOE to award up to $9M for demonstration and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies; medium-duty eTrucks
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $9 million in new funding (DE-FOA-0000828) to accelerate the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in four topic areas: fuel-cell hybrid medium-duty trucks; advanced hydrogen refueling components; backup power systems; and hydrogen meters. (Earlier post.)
DOE is accepting new applications for projects proposing to demonstrate and deploy hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the first three topics, and for research and development in Topic 4. For the first three topics, the primary objective of each proposed project must be to demonstrate and deploy hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in real-world environments. R&D will not be funded through this announcement. DOE select up to eight projects from industry, academia, and national labs.
CCST report: an integral role for next-gen biofuels in meeting California GHG targets requires advanced biofuels and demand reduction
June 11, 2013
Next-generation biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions of transportation to meet California’s target greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal, but deep replacement of fossil fuels through implementation of low-carbon lignocellulosic ethanol and advanced biomass derived hydrocarbons (drop-in biofuels) and reduction in demand is required, according to a new report from the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST).
The study, “California Energy Future: the Potential for Biofuels,” co-authored by Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) scientists Heather Youngs and Chris Somerville, is the seventh and final report in its California’s Energy Future (CEF) project. The CEF project seeks ways the State could meet the mandated reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, exploring possible energy strategies for California through in-depth examinations of different technology scenarios.
US Senate passes Farm Bill with more than $800M in mandatory funding for bioenergy programs
The United States Senate passed a five-year farm bill—the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 (S.954)—containing more than $800 million in mandatory funding for energy programs. The bill also contains funding to grow the renewable chemicals industry.
The Congressional Budget Office CBO estimates that direct spending stemming from the program authorization under the 12 titles in S. 954 would total $955 billion over the 2014-2023 period. That 10-year total reflects the bill’s authorization of expiring programs through 2018 and an extension of those authorizations through 2023. The energy title (Title IX) of the bill contains:
CMU study finds driving conditions have “substantial” impact on benefits of electrified vehicles; policy implications
June 10, 2013
|NHTS-Averaged Annual GHG Emissions per vehicle type by drive cycle. (Base Case). Source: Karabasoglu and Michalek. Click to enlarge.|
A new analysis by Orkun Karabasoglu and Jeremy Michalek of the Carnegie Mellon Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University found that driving conditions affect the economic and environmental benefits of electrified vehicles “substantially”.
As a result, they suggested, vehicle window stickers, fuel economy standards, and life cycle studies using average lab-test vehicle efficiency estimates are incomplete. Driver heterogeneity matters, they found, and efforts to encourage adoption of hybrid and plug-in vehicles will have greater impact if targeted to urban drivers vs. highway drivers. Further, electrified vehicles perform better on some drive cycles than others, so non-representative tests can bias consumer perception and regulation of alternative technologies. Their study is published in the journal Energy Policy.
BC government won’t support Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline as presented over spill response concerns
June 01, 2013
In its final written submission to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel (JRP), the government of British Columbia states that it cannot support the project as presented to the panel primarily because Northern Gateway (NG) has been unable to adequately detail its response to a spill.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline is a proposed 1,170-kilometer (727-mile) twin pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Kitimat on the British Columbia coast. Northern Gateway’s West line, 36 inches in diameter, would transport an average of 525,000 barrels of oil sands crude per day to Kitimat. The East Line, 20 inches in diameter, will carry 193,000 barrels of condensate per day back to Edmonton. Condensate is used to thin petroleum products for pipeline transport (diluent).
NHTSA issues preliminary policy on development of autonomous vehicles to provide guidance to states
May 31, 2013
The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a preliminary policy statement concerning vehicle automation, including its plans for research on related safety issues and recommendations for states related to the testing, licensing, and regulation of “autonomous” or “self-driving” vehicles.
Self-driving vehicles are those in which operation of the vehicle occurs without direct driver input to control the steering, acceleration, and braking and are designed so that the driver is not expected to constantly monitor the roadway while operating in self-driving mode.
ICCT study finds increasing gap between rated and actual passenger car fuel consumption in Europe
May 29, 2013
|The divergence of real-world CO2 emissions vs. manufacturers’ type-approval (100%) in Europe from various on-road data sources. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.|
A new white paper published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) comparing official and “real-world” fuel consumption and CO2 emission values for passenger cars in Europe and the United States shows that the average discrepancy between the values in Europe increased from less than 10% in 2001 to 25% in 2011.
The European analysis is based on the aggregation of several large sets of on-road driving data from various European countries. The analysis of US data is separate from that of the EU data—and draws different initial conclusions—for a number of reasons, including that both the test cycle and test procedure to determine vehicle CO2 emissions data are different from the way type-approval data are collected in the EU.
National Academies issues interim report on overcoming barriers to PEV deployment
May 22, 2013
The National Academies has issued a pre-publication version of an interim report on Overcoming Barriers to Electric-Vehicle Deployment. A final, comprehensive report will be published in late summer 2014.
Given recognized technical, social, and economic barriers to widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles), Congress had asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to commission a study by the National Academies to address market barriers that are slowing the purchase of electric vehicles and hindering the deployment of supporting infrastructure. As a result, the National Research Council (NRC)—a part of the National Academies—appointed the Committee on Overcoming Barriers to Electric-Vehicle Deployment.
EPA proposes adding renewable diesel and naphtha from landfill biogas and butanol pathways to RFS
May 21, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rulemaking for modifications to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program. The proposal also includes various changes to the E15 misfueling mitigation regulations (E15 MMR), ultra low sulfur diesel survey requirements as well as other technical amendments.
The proposed rules include various changes related to biogas, including changes related to the revised compressed natural gas (CNG)/liquefied natural gas (LNG) pathway and amendments to various associated registration, recordkeeping, and reporting provisions. It also adds new pathways for renewable diesel, renewable naphtha, and renewable electricity (used in electric vehicles) produced from landfill biogas.
California ARB 2013 research project to characterize ZEV market; assessing future market potential
May 18, 2013
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) 2013 research plan includes a project that will comprehensively characterize the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) market, with the ultimate goal of increasing consumer purchases of ZEVs.
The proposed project will investigate the factors that influence sales of ZEVs in California (e.g., price, vehicle range, infrastructure). The project is intended to support the planned upcoming mid-term review of California’s Advanced Clean Cars program (earlier post), coordinated with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Researchers propose evaluating alt fuel efficiency based on energy rather than volume; impact of ethanol on vehicle efficiency and GHGs
May 17, 2013
|Relative changes in vehicle energy efficiency (VEE) (km/MJ) on ethanol/gasoline blends over those on gasoline for different blending levels. Credit: ACS, Yan et al. Click to enlarge.|
In a policy analysis in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Oxford argue that, due to the increased emphasis on alternative fuels with drastically differing energy densities, vehicle efficiency should be evaluated based on energy rather than volume.
With that as a premise, they go on to show that the efficiency of existing vehicles can be both positively and negatively affected by ethanol content, ranging from −15% to +24%. As a result, they conclude, uncertainties in the net greenhouse gas (GHG) effect of ethanol, particularly when used in a low-level blend with gasoline, are considerably larger than previously estimated. Standard deviations increase by >10% and >200% when used in high and low blends, respectively.
Obama Administration launches $200M competition for three new manufacturing innovation institutes; WBG power electronics, lightweight metals and digital manufacturing
May 09, 2013
The Obama Administration is launching competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies: Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. The effort is part of President Obama’s proposed $1-billion investment to create a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country. (Earlier post.)
The Department of Energy will lead one of the new institutes on “Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing” for wide bandgap semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) (DE-FOA-0000683). The Department of Defense will lead the other two, focused on “Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing” and “Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation”.
California Energy Commission adopts $100M investment plan for 2013-2014 for green vehicles and fuels
The California Energy Commission unanimously adopted the 2013-2014 Investment Plan Update to support the development and use of green vehicles and alternative fuels. The update sets funding priorities for the approximately $100 million in annual state funds under the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuels and Vehicle Technology (ARFVT) Program, created by Assembly Bill 118.
Funding priorities through the ARFVT Program support fuel and vehicle development to help attain the state’s climate change policies. In addition, the program funds projects that assist in fulfilling Governor Brown’s Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) Action Plan, with a target of installing enough infrastructure to support 1 million ZEVs by 2020, and a 2025 target of having 1.5 million ZEVs on the state’s roads.
Euro Parliament Environment Committee approves 147 g CO2/km target for light commercial vehicles by 2020; caps van speed
May 07, 2013
Members of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee approved a draft law setting out rules for achieving a 147 g CO2/km (235 g/mile) target for new light commercial vehicles by 2020, down from 203 g/km (325 g/mile) today—i.e., a 27.6% reduction. The vote was 53 to 4 with 1 abstention.
The committee also proposed indicative targets for post-2020 CO2 emissions in a range of 105 to 120 g/km (168 to 192 g/mile) from 2025. The committee also voted to limit electronically the top speed of vans to 120 km/h (75 mph).
Reports highlight ongoing advances in vehicle technology, consumer demand for fuel efficiency in US and Europe
May 02, 2013
|4-cylinder engines and hybrid vehicles as a percent of cars sold in the US. Source: CFA. Click to enlarge.|
Two separate reports highlight the ongoing improvement in vehicle technologies and the growing trend toward consumers purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles in the US and in Europe. In the US, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released an analysis—“On the Road to 54.5 MPG: A Progress Report on Achievability”—of the response of consumers and automakers as both begin to experience the effects of the newly adopted federal fuel economy standard.
In Europe, a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) found that the average car sold in the EU in 2012 was 9% more fuel-efficient than the average three years before, due to improved technology and an increase in the share of diesel cars.
Latest status report finds California fuel providers continue pacing ahead of requirements of Low Carbon Fuel Standard; sufficient credits to meet full 2013 obligation
May 01, 2013
According to the latest status report on the progress of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (CA-LCFS) (earlier post), regulated parties in the LCFS—oil producers, importers and other fuel providers—continued to exceed the required reductions in carbon intensity specified by the standard. (Earlier post.)
Companies achieve LCFS compliance when credits equal deficits. According to the new report, from 2011 through Q4 2012, cumulative credits generated under the LCFS total 2,835,662 metric tons of CO2e, while cumulative deficits total 1,550,698 metric tons CO2e, for a net excess of 1.285 million credits (metric tons of CO2e). If all are available for use, the bank of excess credits represents about half of what is needed to cover the 2013 obligation.
Former president of Shell Oil calls for aggressive action on alternative fuels to break oil monopoly on transportation
April 30, 2013
John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil Company and founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy (CFAE), is joining the Fuel Freedom Foundation (FFF) Advisory Board. Fuel Freedom is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to opening the fuel market to allow alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, natural gas and electricity fairly to compete with gasoline at the pump. CFAE’s mission is to educate citizens and government officials about pragmatic, non-partisan affordable energy solutions.
“The purpose and the focus [of FFF] is exactly in line with what I promoted as president of Shell and subsequently as the founder of CFAE,” Hofmeister said to Green Car Congress. “From [these organizations’ standpoints], the reason we have to get away from doing nothing is that the public doesn’t fully appreciate or understand the situation it faces with respect to fuels’ futures.”
Euro Parliament committee approves new 95 g/km CO2 target for cars; super credits and a switch to WLTP
April 25, 2013
The environment committee of the European Parliament approved a draft law setting out a new CO2 target for cars of 95g CO2/km (153 g/mile) by 2020, down from 130 gCO2/km (209 g/mile) in 2015. The draft also sets indicative targets for post-2020 CO2 emissions in the range of 68-78 g/km (109-126 g/mile) from 2025.
These emission limits are the average maximum allowed for car makers registered in the EU. Makers producing fewer than 1,000 cars a year should be exempt from the legislation, said the MEPs. Car makers would therefore have to produce, in addition to older, heavier or polluting models, enough cleaner ones to achieve a balance of 95g en 2020, on pain of penalties.
IEA: carbon intensity of global energy supply has barely changed in last 20 years; “window of opportunity in transport”
April 18, 2013
|The ESCII, along with projections for three scenarios. To meet 2DS targets, the index needs to decline by 5.7% by 2020, and 64% by 2050. Source: IEA. Click to enlarge.|
In a fairly bleak assessment of global progress towards low-carbon energy, the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that, despite a few bright spots such as the rapid expansion of renewable technologies and the growth of hybrid and EV sales, the progress is far below that required to achieve a 2 °C pathway—i.e., to hold warming to 2 °C as outlined in the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 (ETP) 2 °C Scenario (2DS). The assessment came in an annual report to the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM).
To illustrate this inertia, the report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, introduced the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted, on average, to provide a given unit of energy. The global energy supply became 6% cleaner from 1971 to 1990,in response to the oil shocks of the 1970s. Since 1990, however, the ESCII (2010 = 100) has remained essentially static, changing by less than 1%. In 1990 the underlying carbon intensity of supply was 57.1 tCO2/TJ (2.39 tCO2/toe); in 2010 it was 56.7 tCO2/TJ (2.37 tCO2/toe).
EPA annual US GHG inventory shows 1.6% drop in 2011 from previous year; transportation CO2 down 1.1%
April 16, 2013
|Total US greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector in 2011. Click to enlarge.|
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 18th annual report of overall US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions showing a 1.6% decrease in 2011 from the previous year. Recent trends can be attributed to multiple factors including reduced emissions from electricity generation, improvements in fuel efficiency in vehicles with reductions in miles traveled, and year-to-year changes in the prevailing weather, EPA said.
GHG emissions in 2011 showed a 6.9% drop below 2005 levels. Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2011 were equivalent to 6,702 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.
President’s FY2014 Budget boosts DOE vehicle technology spending 75% to $575M; $282M for advanced biofuels
April 10, 2013
President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal submitted to Congress provides $28.4 billion in discretionary funds for the Department of Energy, an 8% increase above the 2012 enacted level. Among the direct transportation-related highlights of the department’s budget proposal are $575 million for advanced vehicle technologies research, an increase of 75% over the enacted 2012 level; $282 million for the next-generation of advanced biofuels research; and the $2 billion Energy Security Trust to transition cars and trucks off of oil. (Earlier post.)
Other highlights include more than $5 billion (+5.7% over the 2012 enacted level) for the Office of Science for basic research and research infrastructure; $615 million to increase the use and decrease the costs of clean power from solar, wind, geothermal, and water energy; $365 million in advanced manufacturing research and development; and $147 million in research and development of smart grid investments, cybersecurity for energy control systems, and permitting, sitting, and analysis activities.
ACEEE report recommends steps toward international alignment of heavy-duty vehicle efficiency standards
April 05, 2013
A new report published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recommends the international harmonization of fuel efficiency and/or greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses.
Foundational steps toward such alignment would include a common set of test cycles and test payload weights, which would serve to define universal measures of vehicle performance. This in turn would permit a standardized calculation of cost-effectiveness of technology improvements as a function of regional conditions. This would also allow comparison of vehicles in a range of driving conditions, and in particular would allow buyers to estimate performance over their own duty cycles, the report suggests.
Hansen paper emphasizes importance of retention and expansion of nuclear power for health and climate reasons
April 04, 2013
|Mean number of deaths prevented annually by nuclear power, 1971-2009. Credit: ACS, Hansen et al. Click to enlarge.|
A new study by James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute has found that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. The estimated human deaths caused by nuclear power from 1971 to 2009 were far lower than the avoided deaths: 4,900, or about 370 times lower than the result for avoided deaths.
Projecting ahead, on the basis of global projection data that takes into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, Hansen and Kharecha also calculated that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420,000−7.04 million deaths and 80−240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by mid-century, depending on which fuel it replaces. Large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power, according to their analysis, which is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
US EPA proposing allowing high-octane, higher ethanol content fuels as part of Tier 3 regs; E30 as example
April 03, 2013
As part of the proposed Tier 3 rulemaking on vehicle emissions and gasoline sulfur content released last week (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to allow vehicle manufacturers to request approval for an alternative certification fuel—such as a high-octane 30% ethanol by volume (E30) blend—for vehicles they might design or optimize for use on such a fuel.
Higher octane fuels can lead to higher compression ratios which in turn can lead to more efficient gasoline engines and reduced fuel consumption. With turbocharged gasoline engines, there is a double benefit: higher compression ratios and increased boost. (Earlier post.) Having approval for such a high octane certification fuel would, the EPA proposed in the Tier 3 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:
EPA proposes Tier 3 standards for gasoline sulfur content and vehicle emissions; harmonized with California LEV III
March 29, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed long-anticipated Tier 3 standards for gasoline sulfur content; evaporative emissions; and tailpipe emissions from all light-duty vehicles (LDVs, or passenger cars), light-duty trucks (LDT1s, LDT2s, LDT3s, and LDT4s) and Medium-Duty Passenger Vehicles (or MDPVs).
With a proposed start in 2017, the Tier 3 program is also harmonized with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Low Emission Vehicle (LEV III) program—enabling automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states. The Tier 3 proposal is also aligned with and designed to be implemented over the same timeframe as EPA’s program for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from light-duty vehicles starting in model year 2017.
DOE launches Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative; awards $23.5M to 5 more manufacturing R&D projects
March 26, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), which will focus on growing US manufacturing of clean energy products and boosting US competitiveness through major improvements in manufacturing energy productivity. The initiative includes private sector partnerships, new funding from the Department, and enhanced analysis of the clean energy manufacturing supply chain that will guide DOE’s future funding decisions.
As a part of its increased focus on manufacturing research and development, DOE also awarded $23.5 million to 5 innovative manufacturing research and development projects. This new funding for advanced manufacturing—as well as the $54 million invested in 13 projects during the first round of selections in June of 2012 (earlier post)—is to serve as a ground floor investment in CEMI.
PCAST suggests 6 key components for climate change strategy to President Obama; adaptation and mitigation
March 23, 2013
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter to President Obama describing six key components the advisory group believes should be central to the Administration’s strategy for addressing climate change. The letter, responding to a request by the President last fall for input, calls for a dual focus on mitigation and adaptation.
President Obama established the current PCAST in 2010 as an advisory group of leading scientists and engineers who directly advise the President and the Executive Office of the President; one of the members serves as the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology (the Science Advisor). PCAST’s charter is to advise the President on matters involving science, technology, and innovation policy, including, but not limited to, policy that affects science, technology, and innovation, as well as scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, and other topics.
California ARB considering regulations for alternative diesel fuels; focus on biodiesel
The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding a public meeting on 23 April in Sacramento to discuss regulatory concepts for establishing fuel requirements for alternative diesel fuels (ADF), including biodiesel, renewable diesel and other emerging diesel fuel substitutes.
ARB’s goal is to conduct public meetings leading to the development of a regulatory proposal for consideration by the Board this fall. Staff anticipates the regulatory concepts would involve new alternative diesel fuel provisions, as well as amendments to the existing diesel fuel regulation to accommodate the new ADF requirements and to update outdated provisions. This effort is not directed at other existing transportation fuel programs, such as those for compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, or electricity.
Study finds technology cost of achieving European 2020 LDV CO2 targets more than offset by resultant fuel savings
March 19, 2013
|Provisional 2030 economic impact of achieving the 2020 targets in the two Phase I scenarios—Current Policy Initiatives and Tech 1— compared to baseline. Source: Cambridge Econometrics.Click to enlarge.|
A report published by Cambridge Econometrics and Ricardo-AEA concludes that overall, the cost of technologies required to meet proposed European 2020 CO2 regulations for vehicles (95 g/km for cars and 147 g/km for vans) will be more than offset by the resultant fuel savings. The technical and macro-economic study, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, focuses on light-duty vehicles.
The project is taking a phased approach. This first report (Phase I) examines only the impact of improving the efficiency of fossil-fueled vehicles, in which efficiency gains are delivered by the improvement of the internal combustion engine vehicle, including lightweighting, engine downsizing and hybridization. The Phase II report, to be presented mid-2013, examines the impact of the gradual penetration of advanced powertrains, such as battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles, and the gradual replacement of fossil fuels with increasing levels of indigenous energy resources, such as electricity and hydrogen.
NRC report concludes US LDVs could cut oil consumption and GHGs by 80% by 2050; reliance on plug-ins, biofuels and hydrogen; strong policies mandatory
March 18, 2013
|Projected rates of fuel consumption improvement under different scenarios relative to past experience and the 2016 and 2025 CAFE standards. Source: NRC. Click to enlarge.|
Light-duty vehicles (LDVs) in the US may be able to reduce petroleum use by 50% by 2030, and by 80% by 2050; and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2050, according to the newly published results of a two-year study by a committee convened by the National Research Council.
Achieving those goals will will be difficult—but not impossible to meet—and will necessitate a combination of more efficient vehicles; the use of alternative fuels such as biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen; and strong government policies to overcome high costs and influence consumer choices. Given the importance of policy as a driver, the committee was also asked—somewhat unusually for a study of this kind—to explore policies, noted Douglas M. Chapin, principal of MPR Associates, and chair of the committee that wrote the report.
SMART: working for a systems-based approach to sustainable mobility; Alcoa Foundation support for practical solutions in Beijing and Detroit
One of the key messages of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Transportation Energy Futures (TEF) project (earlier post) is that deep cuts in transportation petroleum consumption and emissions are dependent on combined reductions across three factors: vehicle fuel consumption (modes); fuel carbon intensity (fuels); and vehicle use (service demand). In other words, while vehicle and fuel technologies clearly play a major role, so does demand reduction and the development of smarter, sustainable transportation systems. Of 9 reports from the TEF project, four deal with reducing transportation demand.
SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation), a project of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and TCAUP, the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, is in its ninth year of working on the problem highlighted by the demand-reduction elements of the TEF project—catalyzing systematic and fundamental transformations of mobility / accessibility systems by uncovering a set of “tipping points” along with integrated (not single-fix) solutions guiding the evolution of such systems.
GAO report finds DOE not actively considering any applications for Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program
March 16, 2013
A new review of the status of US Department of Energy (DOE) loan programs by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that, as of 29 January 2013, DOE was not actively considering any applications for using the remaining $16.6 billion in loan authority or $4.2 billion in credit subsidy appropriations available under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.
The ATVM loan program was established in 2007 by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) to provide up to $25 billion in loans for projects to produce more fuel-efficient passenger vehicles and their components. The fiscal year 2009 continuing resolution provided the ATVM loan program with $7.5 billion in appropriations to cover credit subsidy costs. DOE has made five loans worth $8.4 billion and used $3.3 billion in appropriations to cover credit subsidy costs. Loans awarded were:
President Obama calls on Congress to establish $2B Energy Security Trust for advanced transportation research, funded by oil and gas royalty revenues
March 15, 2013
|Click to enlarge.|
In an speech at Argonne National Laboratory today, President Obama called on Congress to establish a new Energy Security Trust (EST) to invest in critical, breakthrough research focused on developing cost-effective transportation alternatives. The President had referenced the concept of the EST during his State of the Union address earlier this year. (Earlier post.)
The President’s proposal sets aside $2 billion over 10 years and will support research into a range of technologies such as advanced electrified vehicles, biofuels, fuel cells, and domestically produced natural gas. The mandatory funds would be set aside from royalty revenues generated by oil and gas development in Federal waters of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), already included in the administration’s five-year plan.
DOE TEF project finds US can eliminate petroleum and reduce GHG by more than 80% in transportation by 2050; less use, more biofuels, expansion of electricity and hydrogen
|TEF project points to deep cuts in petroleum and emissions in the transportation sector by focusing on modes, fuels, and demand. Source: DOE. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released findings from a new project—Transportation Energy Futures (TEF)—that concludes the United States has the potential to eliminate petroleum use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 80% in the transportation sector by 2050. The project identifies possible paths to a low-carbon, low-petroleum future in the US transportation sector, and also looks beyond technology to examine the marketplace, consumer behavior, industry capabilities, and infrastructure.
TEF is organized into four research areas: light-duty vehicles; non-light-duty vehicles; fuels; and transportation demand. Findings are being detailed in a series of nine reports, six of which are now available.
Mayor of London proposes $1.4B cycling plan for the city; “Crossrail for the bike”
March 07, 2013
Among other features, the plans would create a “Crossrail for the bike”—a route that will run for more than 15 miles (24 km), very substantially segregated, from the western suburbs, through the heart of London, to Canary Wharf and Barking. It would use new Dutch-style segregated cycle tracks along, among other places, the Victoria Embankment and the Westway flyover. It is believed to be the longest substantially-segregated cycle route of any city in Europe.
Study finds that increased vehicle travel and decreased occupancy have undercut the impact of improving fuel economy over last 40 years
March 06, 2013
A new study by Dr. Michael Sivak, Director, Sustainable Worldwide Transportation, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), has found that from 1970-2010, an increase in vehicle distance travelled in the US, coupled with a decrease in the number of occupants in the vehicles, combined to undercut the impact of advances in vehicle fuel economy during that period.
From 1970 to 2010, vehicle distance travelled in the US increased by 155% (from 1.674 trillion km to 4.260 trillion km); however, because vehicle load (i.e., occupants carried) decreased by 27% (from 1.9 to 1.38 persons), the occupant distance travelled increased by 84% (from 3.182 to 5.867 trillion km). Sivak found that while the vehicle fuel economy of the entire light-duty fleet improved by 40% (from 13 mpg US to 21.6 mpg US, or from 18.1 l/100km to 10.9 l/100km), because of the decrease in vehicle load, the occupant fuel economy only improved by 17% (from 24.8 mpg US to 29.8 mpg US, or 9.5 to 7.9 l/100km).
Shell to build LNG units in Gulf Coast and Great Lakes regions; two additional LNG for transport corridors in North America
March 05, 2013
Shell and its affiliates will build two additional small-scale natural gas liquefaction units to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel for marine and heavy-duty on-road customers in North America. Pending final regulatory permitting, these two new liquefaction units are expected to begin operations and production in about three years.
These two units will form the basis of two new LNG transport corridors in the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast regions. This decision follows an investment decision in 2011 on a similar corridor in Alberta, Canada. (Earlier post.) Shell is also working to use natural gas as a fuel in its own operations.
GFEI report finds improvements in average new LDV fuel economy lagging pace required to cut 50% fuel use for new cars worldwide by 2030; policy focus should be on emerging markets
Worldwide, light-duty vehicle (LDV) fuel economy is not improving fast enough to cut average fuel use by 50% for all new cars by 2030, according to a working paper issued by the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI). (Earlier post.) Of particular concern for the GFEI is a lack of progress among non-OECD countries.
The analysis, an update of an earlier work using data from 2010 and 2011, found that the global average for light-duty vehicle fuel economy was 7.2 l/100 km (32.7 mpg US mpg) in 2011—an improvement of 1.8% per year from 2005 when the average was 8.0 l/100 km (29.4 mpg US). In the first edition of the report, published in 2011, the main finding highlighted that global fuel economy had improved by an average of 1.7% per year between 2005 and 2008. While the pace of improvement has slightly accelerated between 2008 and 2011, it lags behind the required 2.7% annual improvement rate that had been required to reach the GFEI target of a 4l/100 km (58.8 mpg US) global average by 2030 for new cars.
EEA report suggests road charges for heavy-duty goods vehicles should reflect varied health effects of pollution in different countries
March 04, 2013
|Air pollution externalities of 12–14 ton HGV on highway (Euronorm III) in euro cents. Source: EEA. Click to enlarge.|
A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) suggests that new road charges for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs or lorries) should reflect the varied health effects of traffic pollution in different European countries. This means charges should be much higher in some countries compared to others, according to the (EEA).
The amended Eurovignette Directive (2011/76/EU) relating to the charging of HGVs for use of major European motorways prescribes that from 2013, Member States may include air pollution costs in any charging structure for roads under the Trans‐European Network (TEN-T) and for comparable domestic motorways. The revenue from such schemes should be invested in sustainable transport, the Directive states. However, adoption of road user charges depends on a decision by individual countries.
EIA: cellulosic biofuels will likely remain well below EISA targets
February 26, 2013
|Planned cellulosic biofuel production by 2015. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.|
US Commercial-scale production of cellulosic biofuels reached about 20,000 gallons in late 2012, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). EIA estimates this output could grow to more than 5 million gallons this year, as operations ramp up at several plants. Additionally, several more plants with proposed aggregate nameplate capacity of around 250 million gallons could begin production by 2015, EIA said.
However, although cellulosic biofuels volumes are expected to grow significantly relative to current levels, they will likely remain well below the targets envisioned in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). EISA set a target level of 500 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2012 and 1 billion gallons for 2013, growing to 16 billion gallons by 2022.
MIT study finds fuel economy standards are 6-14 times less cost effective than fuel tax for reducing gasoline use
February 21, 2013
In a study published in the journal Energy Economics, MIT researchers have found that a fuel economy standard is at least six to fourteen times less cost effective than a fuel tax when targeting an identical reduction in cumulative gasoline use (20% by 2050). The researchers also found that a binding fuel economy standard, combined with a cap-and-trade (CAT) policy, increases the cost of meeting the GHG emissions constraint by forcing expensive reduction in passenger vehicle gasoline use, displacing more cost-effective abatement opportunities.
The impact of adding a fuel economy standard to the CAT policy depends on the availability and cost of abatement opportunities in transport—if advanced biofuels provide a cost-competitive, low carbon alternative to gasoline, the fuel economy standard does not bind and the use of low carbon fuels in passenger vehicles makes a significantly larger contribution to GHG emissions abatement relative to the case when biofuels are not available.
California ARB to hold public workshop on new GHG and emissions standards for heavy-duty engines and vehicles
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will hold a public workshop on 11 March to discuss proposals for several regulations and regulation amendments related to on-road heavy-duty vehicles.
At this workshop, staff will be soliciting input on proposals multiple proposals: a new regulation to harmonize with GHG emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles that US EPA adopted in 2011; amendments to ARB’s existing Heavy-Duty Vehicle GHG Emission Reduction Regulation to align with the proposed new GHG regulation; a new set of optional oxides of nitrogen (NOx) standards for heavy-duty vehicle engines more stringent than the current 2010 model year standard; and amendments to the Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) to Limit Diesel-fueled Commercial Motor Vehicle Idling to expand compliance responsibility.