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[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.]

The importance of considering non-exhaust traffic emissions; the role of EVs

May 02, 2016

Regulatory regimes seeking to reduce emissions from transport have largely focused on tailpipe emissions—i.e., the criteria pollutants and CO2 that emerge with the exhaust from the tailpipe. However, there is more than 15 years of research showing that the contribution of non-exhaust primary particles to the total traffic generated primary particles is significant in urban areas. Non-exhaust PM factors include tire wear, brake wear, road surface wear and resuspension of road dust. Further, a 2013 review by Denier van der Gon et al., 2013 found that the ratio of non-exhaust to exhaust particles is strongly increasing in the last two decades, due to exhaust emission reductions.

While battery electric vehicles have the obvious advantage of zero tail-pipe emissions, they are not equally advantaged when it comes to non-exhaust emissions. Accordingly, there have been a number of recent studies working to assess the impact of non-exhaust emissions from EVs and suggesting a regulatory or policy response (e.g., earlier post).

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Germany pumping €1B into plug-in vehicle subsidies, infrastructure; base price cap of €60K

April 27, 2016

The German government will put approximately €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) into subsidies for plug-in vehicles and the supporting charging infrastructure, beginning next month.

Electric car buyers will receive a €4,000 (US$4,500) subsidy; buyers of plug-ins will receive €3,000 (US$3,400). Half of the amount will be provided by the government, the other half by automakers. The total funding is limited to €1.2 billion (US$1.4 billion) (€600 million from the federal government, €600 million from the auto industry) and has a term expiring no later than 2019.

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Cal Energy Commission hosting technology merit review workshop on EV charging infrastructure project

April 22, 2016

The California Energy Commission will host a workshop Monday, 25 April, in which executives from four companies including ChargePoint and Green Charge Networks, two non-profits, one municipal utility district and one state agency will discuss the successes and challenges of developing electric vehicle charging technology in California.

This workshop will influence future funding opportunities at the Commission through its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which provides up to $100 million a year for alternative fuels and vehicle technology development.

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Japan updates hydrogen fuel cell targets; 320 stations by 2025, 800,000 vehicles by 2030

April 15, 2016

Japan’s Council for a Strategy for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, which includes experts from industry, academia, and government, recently issued a revised version of the Strategic Roadmap for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established the Council in December 2013; the Strategic Road Map was first published in June 2014. With the increased dissemination of fuel cells for households, the launch of fuel cell vehicles onto the market, and steady progress in the construction of hydrogen stations, the Council has revised the plan, setting new targets. For vehicles, these targets are:

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European Transport Ministers sign Amsterdam Declaration on steps for development and harmonization of connected, autonomous driving in Europe

On 14 April, the transport ministers of all 28 EU member states signed the Amsterdam Declaration, laying down agreements on the steps necessary for the development of connected, autonomous driving technology in the EU. The signatories pledge to draw up rules and regulations that will allow autonomous vehicles to be used on the roads.

A lack of good cooperation between EU member states could give rise to a jumble of different rules, thereby preventing the large-scale availability of this new technology. Agreements also need to be made on issues such as liability, privacy, data security and the effects of self-driving vehicles on traffic and the road network.

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California Energy Commission releases $17.3M funding opportunity for H2 stations

April 08, 2016

The California Energy Commission has released a $17.3-million solicitation (GFO-15-605) for publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations that serve California’s light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

The Energy Commission will make available two categories of Capital Expense (Cap-X) funding. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding is also available for stations whose capital expenses are funded under this solicitation. This solicitation places a preference on hydrogen refueling stations that fill hydrogen refueling station coverage gaps and hydrogen refueling capacity gaps in California.

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California ARB posts discussion document on $500M FY 2016-17 spend for low carbon transportation and fuels; $230M to fund CVRP

March 28, 2016

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted a discussion document prior to a 4 April 2016 public workshop on the development of the FY 2016-17 Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation and Fuels Investments and AQIP.

The Governor’s proposed 2016-17 budget would appropriate to ARB $500 million in Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds for Low Carbon Transportation and Fuels investments—including $40 million for very low carbon fuel production incentives—and $28.6 million for Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) projects.

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Study suggests policymakers need to move beyond alt fuels hype to decarbonize transport successfully

March 02, 2016

Policymakers who want to decarbonize the transportation sector will need to move beyond the hype that has characterized alternative fuels over the past three decades and find better ways to assess and sustain promising technologies and fuels, according to a study from Simon Fraser University, Canadian consulting firm Navius Research, and the University of California, Davis.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Energy, Noel Melton, Jonn Axsen and Daniel Sperling conduct a media analysis to show how society’s attention has skipped among alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) technology between 1980 and 2013, including methanol, natural gas, plug-in electric, hybrid electric, hydrogen and biofuels. They then make recommendations that governments can follow to move past hype to support significant AFV adoption and displace fossil fuel use in the transportation sector.

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Study finds autonomous vehicles may plausibly nearly double, or nearly halve, road transport GHGs depending on the scenario

February 26, 2016

A study by a team from the University of Leeds (UK), University of Washington (USA) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has found that vehicle automation might plausibly reduce road transport GHG emissions and energy use by nearly half—or nearly double them—depending on the scenario.

The researchers also found that many potential energy-reduction benefits may be realized through partial automation, while the major energy/emission downside risks appear more likely at full automation. In a paper describing the study published in the journal Transportation Research Part A, the authors also presented implications for policymakers and identify priority areas for further research.

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U Chicago, MIT study suggests ongoing use of fossil fuels absent new carbon taxes

February 24, 2016

A paper by a team from the University of Chicago and MIT suggests that technology-driven cost reductions in fossil fuels will lead to the continued use of fossil fuels—oil, gas, and coal—unless governments pass new taxes on carbon emissions. Their analysis is published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

While renewable energy has made promising gains in just the last few years—the cost of solar dropped by about two-thirds from 2009 to 2014—new drilling and extraction techniques have made fossil fuels cheaper and markedly increased the amount of oil and gas available. In the US alone, oil reserves have expanded 59% between 2000 and 2014, and natural gas reserves have expanded 94% in the same time.

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CMU study concludes alt fuel vehicle incentives for OEMs result in increased fleet gasoline consumption and emissions

February 15, 2016

A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has concluded that regulatory incentives for OEMs for alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) intended to encourage a technology transition in the transportation fleet result in increased fleet-wide gasoline consumption and emissions. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the US, the main regulatory drivers for increased light-duty vehicle fuel efficiency are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) CAFE standards and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GHG standard. The two standards are harmonized for comparable stringency, but there are differences. (Earlier post.)

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President Obama proposes 50% increase in spending on clean transportation, funded by $10/barrel tax on oil

February 05, 2016

President Obama has laid out a plan for building a “21st Century Clean Transportation System”, the investment for which would be funded by a new $10 per barrel fee on oil paid by oil companies, which would be gradually phased in over five years. The President’s plan would increase US investments in clean transportation infrastructure by roughly 50%.

The President’s plan invests nearly $20 billion per year above current spending to reduce traffic and provide new ways for families to get to work and to school. The plan would expand transit systems in cities, suburbs and rural areas; make high-speed rail a viable alternative to flying in major regional corridors and invest in new rail technologies like maglev; modernize the freight system; and expand the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program begun in the Recovery Act to support high-impact, innovative local projects.

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CPUC approves SDG&E pilot EV grid integration project; 3,500 charging stations at 350 sites, dynamic pricing

January 29, 2016

Almost two years after SDG&E proposed its Electric Vehicle Grid-Integration (VGI) pilot project (April 2014), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a modified version of the program, enabling the utility to own and to install 3,500 charging stations at 350 sites—businesses and multi-family communities, including in underserved neighborhoods, throughout San Diego and south Orange Counties.

The program features dynamic pricing—a time-variant rate—that creates incentives for charging when renewable energy is most available. The CPUC decision comes two weeks after a separate CPUC decision to approve a proposal from Southern California Edison to deploy 1,500 charging stations across its territory. (Earlier post.)

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Volkswagen Group confirms 20 more EV or PHEV models by 2020; Müller says Europe needs to lead with electric mobility

January 26, 2016

At the Volkswagen Group’s New Year reception in Brussels, Group CEO Matthias Müller said that the Group would concentrate on sustainability more than ever before—encompassing products, strategy and management. Müller will present the new Strategy 2025 for the Group this summer.

Among other things, the company’s brands will introduce about 20 additional models with electrical or plug-in hybrid drive trains by 2020, the CEO confirmed. (That number had been put forth by former CEO Martin Winterkorn at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2015. Earlier post.) The Volkswagen Group comprises twelve brands from seven European countries.

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Obama Administration proposes $4B to accelerate development and adoption of autonomous vehicles; policy update

January 15, 2016

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a proposed 10-year, nearly $4-billion investment to accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects. Secretary Foxx made the announcement at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The pilot programs, funded via the President’s FY17 budget proposal, would test connected vehicle systems in designated corridors throughout the country, and work with industry leaders to ensure a common multistate framework for connected and autonomous vehicles.

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Bain: Germany’s goal of 1M electric cars by 2020 is unattainable; fewer than 50,000 units on road by end of this year

December 23, 2015

The German Federal Government plan to have one million electric cars on its roads by 2020 has failed, according to the analysis of international management consulting firm Bain & Company. By the end of 2015, there will be a total of about 50,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrids on the roads in Germany (about 75% below plan); nevertheless, structural transformation towards electromobility is continuing, according to the firm.

Stricter emission laws and the technological advances in electric drives will accelerate the trend towards e-mobility in the medium term, Bain said.

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GFEI: vehicle fuel economy is below global targets, jeopardizing action on climate and energy; failure of policy

December 08, 2015

Worldwide, the vehicle fleet is not making enough progress on fuel economy and is failing to reach global targets aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, cutting oil consumption and improving energy efficiency according to a new report from the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) (earlier post) released at the Paris COP21 Climate Summit.

The new report shows that while fuel economy is improving in OECD countries, progress is still below the rate needed to hit global targets by 2030. Meanwhile, developing countries—where vehicles markets are set to grow massively—are failing to make any substantial improvements in fuel economy, and are way off target as measured by the GFEI. The GFEI targets—which are reflected in the new global Sustainable Development Goals—include a 50% reduction in l/100km by 2030 in all new cars worldwide.

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UCLA–UC Berkeley paper outlines how CA can boost biofuel production to cut pollution and help the economy

December 07, 2015

California has not taken full advantage of opportunities to increase its in-state production of biofuel, despite state policies that encourage biofuel consumption, according to a policy paper by the Climate Change and Business Research Initiative at the UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools. The paper is the sixteenth in a series of reports on how climate change will create opportunities for specific sectors of the business community and how policy-makers can facilitate those opportunities.

The report—titled Planting Fuels: How California Can Boost Local, Low-Carbon Biofuel Production—underscores the importance of local production of low-carbon biofuel, suggesting that the state could reduce emissions by not shipping feedstocks from out-of-state or overseas; spurring development of carbon-reducing byproducts such as biochar compost; and reducing the risk of wildfire.

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EPA nudges up volume of renewable fuel in final requirements for 2014-2016 under RFS

November 30, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program today for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017.

This rule finalizes higher volumes of renewable fuel than the levels EPA proposed in June (earlier post), but still represents a reduction compared to the original statutory requirements.

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Study finds EV deployment in China to increase Environmental Justice challenge there

November 16, 2015

A new study by a team from the University of Tennessee, Tsinghua University and the University of Minnesota has found that the wide-scale deployment of electric vehicles in China can increase the Environmental Justice (EJ) challenge in that country.

According to their findings, published in a paper in the ACS journalEnvironmental Science & Technology, most (∼77%, range: 41–96%) emission inhalation attributable to urban EVs use—i.e., from the shifting of transportation’s air pollution from urban tailpipes to rural power plants—is distributed to predominately rural communities the incomes of which are on average lower than the cities in which the EVs are used.

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Report finds road transportation sector in Canada likely to fall far short of 2050 GHG emissions reduction target

November 12, 2015

A new Conference Board of Canada report finds that Canada is unlikely to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Even when taking into account reduced distances traveled per vehicle, improvements in fuel efficiency, and greater market penetration of alternative technology vehicles, Canada falls short of the 80-by-50 target.

Despite voluntary and regulatory initiatives that have improved the emissions efficiency of passenger and freight transportation, emissions from road transportation are increasing due to growing number of cars on the road and Canadians’ changing preference for light trucks. Canada’s road transport emissions were 40% higher in 2013 than in 1990. Between 1990 and 2013, transportation emissions accounted for nearly half of the growth of Canada’s total emissions levels, with road transport accounting for the largest share of transportation emissions.

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Obama Administration announces actions to sustain and advance nuclear energy in US

November 07, 2015

Although overshadowed by the announcement on denial of a Presidential Permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline (earlier post), on Friday, the Obama administration also on Friday announced and highlighted a number of actions to sustain and advance nuclear energy in the US.

In 2014, nuclear power generated about 60% of carbon-free electricity in the United States, and continues to play a major role in efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector. According to the Administration, the continued development of new and advanced nuclear technologies along with support for currently operating nuclear power plants is an important component of the country’s clean energy strategy.

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MIT study finds carbon prices more cost-effective than fuel economy regs at reducing CO2 emissions; fuel economy regs more efficient at reducing fuel use

October 12, 2015

Researchers at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change have compared the worldwide economic, environmental, and energy impacts of currently planned fuel economy standards (extended to the year 2050) with those of region-specific carbon prices designed to yield identical CO2 emissions reductions.

Their study, which appears in the Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, finds that such stringent fuel economy standards would cost the economy 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2050, compared with a 6% cost under carbon pricing. This finding reinforces economists’ contention that improving the efficiency of motor vehicles through fuel economy standards will yield significantly less CO2 emissions reduction per dollar than an economy-wide instrument that encourages such cutbacks where they are cheapest—principally in the electric power and industrial sectors.

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ICCT update finds real-world vehicle fuel economy gap continues to widen in Europe to 40%

September 25, 2015

The gap between official fuel-economy figures and the real world for new cars in the EU has reached 40 per cent, according to the latest update by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) to its on-going research into in-use vehicle fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. (Earlier post.)

Since 2001, the discrepancy between official measurements of vehicle efficiency and actual performance of new cars in everyday driving has more than quadrupled—a discrepancy that now translates into €450 (US$500) per year in extra fuel costs for the average vehicle. The updated study closely follows on revelations that a similar gap in NOx emissions from diesel passenger vehicles was, at least in the case of Volkswagen, deliberately engineered, and as the European Commission prepares to adopt an improved test procedure that would produce more realistic vehicle test results.

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BMW: “We don’t cheat”; diesel is needed to hit CO2 targets; call for WLTP and RDE

As the Volkswagen emission testing scandal threatens to spill over onto other automakers, BMW yesterday issued a sharp statement in response to a report in Auto Bild suggesting emissions from an X3 test were out of the norm.

The BMW Group does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests. We observe the legal requirements in each country and fulfill all local testing requirements. In other words, our exhaust treatment systems are active whether rolling on the test bench or driving on the road. Clear, binding specifications and processes are in place through all phases of development at the BMW Group in order to avoid wrongdoing.”

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Los Angeles to lease 160 BEVs, 128 PHEVs as part of commitment to 50% EV purchases by 2017

September 14, 2015

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday announced a commitment to lease 160 pure battery EV vehicles, a move that will give Los Angeles the largest city-owned pure EV fleet in the US. The program commits city departments to the leasing of pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to replace aging city vehicles, including those with conventional internal combustion engines. The announcement came on the eve of the US-China Climate Leaders Summit to be hosted in L.A. this week.

The Los Angeles Police, Fire, General Services, and Water and Power departments will together lease the 160 BEVS. In addition, LADWP and the General Services Department will lease an additional 128 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

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60% of $18B in US clean energy tax credits 2006-2012 went to top 20% by income; 90% in the plug-in program

August 30, 2015

A working paper by a team at the Energy Institute at Haas, University of California, Berkeley, has found that 60% of the $18 billion in US federal income clean energy tax credits issued between 2006 and 2012—e.g., for weatherizing homes, installing solar panels, and buying hybrid and electric vehicles—went to the top income quintile in the US (above $200,000 per year). The bottom three quintiles (up to $75,000 per year) received about 10%.

The most extreme case, Severin Borenstein and Lucas Davis found through their examination of tax return data from the IRS, is the program aimed at electric vehicles—the top income quintile received about 90% of all these credits. As a result of the work, Borenstein and Davis conclude that tax credits are likely to be much less attractive on distributional grounds than market mechanisms to reduce GHGs.

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BIO: RFS’ biofuel requirements saved 589.3M tons of carbon emissions over past decade

August 24, 2015

Over its 10-year lifespan, the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS’) requirement to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced US transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons, according to a new analysis released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

To develop its estimates, BIO utilized the GREET1.2013 model to compare carbon emissions from the mixture of US transportation fuels (both petroleum and biofuel) under two scenarios. The first scenario applied the annual required RFS Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) percentages, as established by EPA rulemakings, to the volumes of fossil-based, non-renewable gasoline and diesel used in the United States. To establish a second scenario, BIO assumed that corn ethanol and soy biodiesel would have continued to meet just over 3% of the total reported transportation fuel use over the decade and that petroleum gasoline and diesel would have been used instead.

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Opinion: Alternatives to the RFS

by Doug Williams

Recently, the Energy Resources Center made headlines by saying the EPA’s shift on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would equal adding 1 million more passenger vehicles on the road. (Earlier post.) The RFS has been controversial from its beginnings in the early 2000’s. It’s also a political lightning rod given the stagnation of fuel consumption matched with accelerating ethanol blending.

The oil industry would seem to be understandably upset about it. The expansion of the RFS in 2007 goes far beyond just replacing MTBE with ethanol as the required fuel oxygenate (and avoiding lawsuits). Given the stagnant US fuel market, every gallon of biofuel blended into the mix cannibalizes fossil fuel demand. It seems as though when the RFS was conceived, no one could have thought that fuel consumption would have flat-lined. But is there a better way? There are options for continuing our commitment towards renewable fuels to secure US energy requirements. Let’s look a few here.

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JRC: Increased use of renewables results in growing GHG emission savings in the EU; transport contribution only 5%

August 07, 2015

Greenhouse gasses (GHG) emission savings due to final renewable energy consumption in electricity; cooling/heating; and transport sectors rose at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% from 2009 to 2012, confirming renewables’ potential in climate change mitigation, according to a new report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s in-house science service. Nearly two thirds of the total savings came from renewable energy development in Germany, Sweden, France, Italy and Spain.

The report assesses data on the use of renewable energy, submitted by EU Member States every two years, as required by EU legislation on renewable energy. The report estimates that in 2012, when total GHG emissions reached the equivalent of 4546 Mt CO₂, the deployment of all renewables in the EU avoided the equivalent of 716 Mt CO₂ emissions. According to the report, the highest contribution by renewables in climate change mitigation in the EU in 2012 came from renewable electricity, which covered 64% of the savings, due to high penetration of wind and solar power, followed by renewable heating and cooling (31%) and renewable transport (5%).

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Obama orders creation of National Strategic Computing Initiative; delivering exascale computing

July 31, 2015

President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). The NSCI is a whole-of-government effort designed to create a cohesive, multi-agency strategic vision and Federal investment strategy, executed in collaboration with industry and academia, to maximize the benefits of high-performance computing (HPC) for the United States. One of the specific objectives is accelerating the delivery of exascale computing. (Earlier post.)

The coordinated Federal strategy is to be guided by four principles: deploying and applying new HPC technologies broadly for economic competitiveness and scientific discovery; fostering public-private collaboration; cooperaation among all executive departments and agencies with significant expertise or equities in HPC while also collaborating with industry and academia; and developing a comprehensive technical and scientific approach to transition HPC research on hardware, system software, development tools, and applications efficiently into development and, ultimately, operations.

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ICCT study assesses EV promotion and uptake in top 25 metropolitan areas in US

July 30, 2015

A new study by a team at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has found that the top metropolitan markets in the US for electric vehicles tend to be characterized by a combination of relatively progressive promotional activities; more extensive charging infrastructure per capita; greater consumer incentives; and a broader range of available models.

The newly published white paper—Assessment of Leading Electric Vehicle Promotion Activities in United States Cities, surveys actions being taken by state and local governments and public utilities to facilitate electric vehicle deployment in the 25 most populous US metropolitan areas, which together represent more than 42% of the population; 46% of auto sales; 67% of new electric vehicle registrations; and 53% of the public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US as of 2014.

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DLR and Wuppertal publish comprehensive global analysis of e-mobility technologies, outlook and lifecycle assessments

July 23, 2015

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH; WI) have published results of their STROMbegleitung (electricity evaluation) comprehensive study to analyze technologies; market outlook; policy support; infrastructure; and life-cycle assessments for electrically-powered transport.

The study, which ran from October 2011 – September 2014, comprehensively charts current progress in technology; identifies trends; analyzes lifecycle assessments for a variety of vehicle concepts; and assess material intensities. At the same time, it places German activities in the field of electromobility within an international context. The research program received a €1.7 million euro grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) as part of the STROM support program (key technologies for electromobility).

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SFU researchers find promise for plug-in vehicles in Canada, but need for increased supply and policy support

July 16, 2015

New work by a team at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada has found that more than one-third of Canadian buyers want a plug-in vehicle (PEV), with the majority of those (89—93%) wanting a plug-in hybrid rather than a pure electric vehicle. However, less than 1% of vehicle sales in Canada are electric because of low consumer awareness and limited vehicle choice.

With the current supply of PEVs in Canada (7 models), the future PEV new market share is not likely to exceed 4—5% by 2030, according to the report; increasing supply (to 56 models) could increase market share to over 20% by 2030.

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Study finds single exposure to roadway PM induces transient pulmonary stress; possible need to regulate non-tailpipe-related pollution

July 13, 2015

A study by researchers in Israel and the US has found that single (“sub-clinical”) exposure to extracts from particulate material (PM) collected in a near roadway environment can induce a transient oxidative stress and inflammation in mice’ lungs. The researchers attributed this largely to the dissolved metals (such as Cu, Fe, Mn, V, Ni, and Cr) that are part of roadway emissions.

The local response was largely self-resolved by 48 h, suggesting that it could represent a subclinical response to everyday-level exposure. Removal of soluble metals by chelation markedly diminished the pulmonary response. The paper appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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European automakers and fuel suppliers argue for diesel as they call on policy makers to accelerate fleet renewal

July 08, 2015

In an open letter to EU policy makers, leading representatives of the automotive and petroleum refining industry in Europe called on policy makers to help accelerate fleet renewal and the introduction of the cleanest vehicles and committed to keep pushing the technical boundaries in order to find ever better ways of combining the customer benefits of diesel—fuel economy and low CO2—with continuously reduced emissions.

The associations pointed out that political measures restricting the rollout of the new generation of diesel technology would undermine existing efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

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Study: even with high LDV electrification, low-carbon biofuels will be necessary to meet 80% GHG reduction target; “daunting” policy implications

July 03, 2015

A study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Michigan State University colleague has concluded that even with a relatively high rate of electrification of the US light-duty fleet (40% of vehicle miles traveled and 26% by fuel), an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 relative to 1990 can only be achieved with significant quantities of low-carbon liquid fuel. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

For the study, the researchers benchmarked 27 scenarios against a 50% petroleum-reduction target and an 80% GHG-reduction target. They found that with high rates of electrification (40% of miles traveled) the petroleum-reduction benchmark could be satisfied, even with high travel demand growth. The same highly electrified scenarios, however, could not satisfy 80% GHG-reduction targets, even assuming 80% decarbonized electricity and no growth in travel demand.

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Researchers find Nissan LEAF creates less CO2 than Toyota Prius hybrid in west US and Texas, but more in N. Midwest

July 01, 2015

Regionally specific lifecycle CO2 emissions per mile traveled for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US can vary widely based on grid emission factors (i.e., the “carbon footprint” of electricity production and use), according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Under some conditions, the battery electric Nissan LEAF can produce higher emissions than a Toyota Prius hybrid. The paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team characterized the vehicle emissions across the United States under alternative assumptions for regional electricity emission factors, regional boundaries, and charging schemes. Among the findings were that:

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CMU policy briefs outline benefits and potential for adoption of electrified vehicles in the US

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have published two new policy briefs, along with accompanying videos, about the benefits of electrified vehicles and the potential for their adoption in the US. The briefs condense the findings of a number of recent papers coming out of the CMU group led by Professor Jeremy Michalek.

The first—“Electric Vehicle Benefits and Costs in the United States”—shows that the benefits of vehicle electrification vary based on vehicle type; driving style; climate; how supplying electricity is generated; and time of charge. To achieve the best outcomes, the brief suggests, plug-in vehicle adoption should typically be focused on HEVs and PHEVs by city drivers in mild-climate regions with a clean electricity grid, such as San Francisco or Los Angeles. Further, drivers should not be encouraged to charge at night in coal-heavy regions.

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California ARB approves $373M funding plan for advanced vehicle technologies in FY2015-2016; up from $150M last year

June 26, 2015

The California Air Resources Board today approved a $373-million funding plan that covers all investments in advanced technologies for fiscal year 2015-16, from zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles.

The budget for the annual Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation Investments and the Air Quality Improvement Program is up by $150 million over last year’s budget, and is subject to approval by the Legislature when it considers the proposed expenditure of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds as part of the State Budget.

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LowCVP: 5 Ps for influencing uptake of low emission vehicles at local level

The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership has launched a Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles. A key recommendation is that policy measures implemented at the local level should be consistent with each other, that common definitions and vocabulary for low emission vehicles should be established. The Good Practice Guide for Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles was prepared for the LowCVP by Urban Foresight.

Released to coincide with the LowCVP’s 2015 Annual Conference which features a discussion on mobility in future cities, the LowCVP has identified five ‘P’s from the Guide—levers that local authorities can most effectively use to influence low emission vehicle uptake at the local level:

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EPA takes first steps toward regulating commercial aviation GHGs with endangerment finding under CAA

June 11, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to find under section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial aircraft engines endanger the health and welfare of Americans by contributing to climate change. At the same time, the agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that provides information on the process for setting international CO2 emissions standards for aircraft at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and describes and seeks input on the potential use of section 231 of the Clean Air Act to adopt a corresponding standard domestically.

The finding applies to GHG emissions from engines used in US subsonic jet aircraft with a maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) greater than 5,700 kilograms and in subsonic propeller driven (e.g., turboprop) aircraft with a MTOM greater than 8,618 kilograms. Examples of covered aircraft would include smaller jet aircraft such as the Cessna Citation CJ2+ and the Embraer E170, up to and including the largest jet aircraft: the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747. Other examples of covered aircraft would include larger turboprop aircraft, such as the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Q400. The actions do not apply to small piston-engine planes or to military aircraft.

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1st major utility proposal for EV charging infrastructure presented to CPUC

June 05, 2015

A diverse set of public interest groups, automakers, labor unions, and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) submitted a proposed settlement to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to accelerate the deployment of smart electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that would support the utility grid in San Diego.

The application is California’s first utility pilot proposal to help develop charging infrastructure, and, through pricing that allows for customer-managed charging, to manage transportation electrification load to support the evolving needs of an electrical grid increasingly dominated by variable renewable energy.

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EPA proposes volume requirements for Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014-2016

May 29, 2015

Adhering to a schedule in a proposed consent decree (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its long-awaited proposed volume requirements (renewable volume obligations, RVO) (earlier post) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017. The period for public input and comment on the proposal will be open until 27 July. EPA says it will finalize the volume standards in this rule by 30 November.

EPA is proposing to establish the 2014 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel used in that year; the standards for 2015 and 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) increase steadily over time, with the most aggressive growth projected for the problematic area of cellulosic biofuels: from 33 million gallons in 2014 to 206 million gallons in 2016.

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California providing incentives up to $12K to help low-income families afford the cleanest cars

May 28, 2015

In coordination with local air officials, the California Air Resources Board is initiating a retire-and-replace pilot program in the Greater Los Angeles area and San Joaquin Valley to help people of low income replace old, polluting cars with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that also cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The air district-administered program provides incentives on a sliding scale, with larger cash payments for the lowest-income families moving up to the cleanest cars. The lowest-income recipient purchasing the very cleanest car receives the highest incentive amounts. Under the program, it is possible for a family that meets income guidelines to receive as much as $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car.

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Canada targets cutting GHGs 30% below 2005 levels by 2030; new regulations for oil and gas, power, petrochemicals

May 15, 2015

Canada Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that Canada plans to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada formally submitted its target, referred to as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Canada will continue to take cooperative action with its continental trading partners, particularly the United States, in integrated sectors of the economy, including energy and transportation.

Minister Aglukkaq also announced the Government’s intention to develop new regulatory measures under its sector-by-sector approach that would build on actions already taken on two of Canada’s largest sector sources of GHG emissions: transportation and electricity. The new regulations include:

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California ARB posts discussion document for developing Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation

May 09, 2015

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted a discussion document for upcoming workshops on the development of the Advanced Clean Transit (ACT) regulation.

The proposed Advanced Clean Transit regulation will consider strategies to achieve additional criteria pollutant emissions reductions from transit fleets and to accelerate purchases of zero emission buses as part of an overall strategy to transform all heavy duty vehicles to zero emission or near zero emission vehicles to meet air quality and efficiency improvement goals. ARB staff Staff is evaluating four potential broad elements to the Advanced Clean Transit regulation:

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Report for the EC evaluates prospects for sugar-based platforms for biofuels and biochemicals

May 08, 2015

A comprehensive review of 94 potential pathways to biofuels and biochemicals via the sugar platform, prepared for the European Commission (DG ENER) by a team from E4tech, RE-CORD and Wageningen UR, finds that the global market value of the sugar platform is today of the order of $65 billion, with bioethanol (from sugar and starch crops) by far the dominant product in the market.

While several newer biofuel and biochemical routes show significant growth potential, only a few are currently crossing the valley of death between research and commercialization. Of ten case studies (the technologies being at least at TRL5) considered in detail, most can deliver significant greenhouse gas (GHG) savings and identical (or improved) physical properties, but at an added cost to fossil alternatives.

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BIO: RFS policy instability has chilled advanced and cellulosic biofuel investments; $13.7B shortfall

May 04, 2015

EPA’s delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past two years have chilled necessary investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels just as they reached commercial deployment. The industry has experienced an estimated $13.7-billion shortfall in investment as a result, according to a new analysis released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

To reach the 2015 RFS goal of producing 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels (including 3 billion gallons of cellulosic and 2.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuel or biodiesel), Bio Economic Research Associates (bio-era) estimated the need for 110 operating plants requiring $20.34 billion dollars in cumulative investment. The research and advisory firm also estimated that more than $95 billion in cumulative capital investments would be needed by 2022 for construction of nearly 400 advanced biofuel biorefineries with the capacity to produce 23 billion gallons of advanced biofuel.

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