ICCT: available low-carbon fuels can reduce CI of on-road transportation fuels in Pacific Coast region by 14%–21% by 2030
|Fuel carbon intensity reduction from 2015-2030 from fuel deployment scenarios for the Pacific Coast region. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.|
A new study from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and E4tech finds that the targets adopted or proposed by British Columbia, California, Oregon, and Washington to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels can be met with a range of low-carbon fuel options. By 2030, the study concludes, low-carbon fuels could replace more than a quarter of the gasoline and diesel used by vehicles in the Pacific Coast region by 2030, with a reduction in the overall carbon intensity of on-road transportation fuels of 14%–21%.
The conclusions are based on a detailed modeling study of low-carbon fuel technologies and production pathways, estimating the future availability of low carbon fuels given policy incentives to supply them in the Pacific Coast region. The study presents eight scenarios for low-carbon fuel supply, including varying amounts of electricity, hydrogen, ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, next generation cellulosic biofuel, and natural gas. Potential carbon savings were estimated by comparing the expected carbon intensity of these alternative fuels to the carbon intensity of the fossil fuels they replace.
This analysis is novel in its evaluation of fuel availability across the four jurisdictions simultaneously; in its consideration of resource and industry constraints; and in its quantification of fuel carbon intensity according to the adopted fuel policy lifecycle carbon ratings.
|Fuel carbon intensity reductions by 2030 from eight alternative fuel deployment scenarios for the Pacific Coast region (British Columbia, California, Oregon, Washington). Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge.|
The team also compared the 8 scenarios against an illustrative region-wide composite policy target. Within any of the four individual jurisdictions, lesser or greater emission reductions (e.g., above 10% carbon intensity reduction by 2020) than the aggregated region- wide values that are shown would be possible depending on the varying mix of policy, market, and fiscal incentives that were at play.
The study presents four primary conclusions:
Available low-carbon fuels could grow to replace between 290,000 to 410,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of petroleum-based fuels in 2030, representing a factor of three increase from today and a quarter of the Pacific Coast region’s road transportation energy demand.
First-generation biofuels (e.g., sugarcane ethanol); second-generation biofuels; advanced cellulosic and drop-in biofuels; renewable and fossil natural gas; electricity in plug-in electric vehicles; and hydrogen in fuel cell vehicles are viable alternative fuels with the potential for substantially increased deployment in the 2020-2030 timeframe.
Low-carbon fuels can reduce the overall carbon intensity of on-road transportation fuels in the region by 14%–21% (all eight scenarios) by 2030, while accounting for lifecycle carbon emission effects, known resource and supply chain constraints, vehicle technology, and increased travel demand.
The scenarios analyzed in the report would amount to reducing road transportation’s climate emissions by 43-64 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent reduction per year, by 2030.
The specific fuel policy targets established or proposed by the region’s state and provincial governments for fuel carbon intensity reductions can be met in a variety of ways involving conventional biofuels, electric-drive, natural gas, and advanced cellulosic biofuels.
Six of the eight scenarios analyzed would be consistent with full compliance with regulatory targets between 2015 and 2020. These scenarios also demonstrate a wide variety of potential fuels that could be used for compliance.
For example, in 2020, the compliance-consistent scenarios include between 100 and 1,200 million gallons (diesel equivalent) of natural gas; between 600 and 1,200 million gallons of ethanol from sugarcane; between 550,000 and 860,000 plug-in electric vehicles using grid electricity; between 300 and 600 million gallons of renewable diesel; and between 20 and 300 million gallons gasoline equivalent of cellulosic fuel.
Decarbonization goals do not require a dramatic breakthrough in any one particular technology; many different technologies exist and are emerging that can be deployed for similar oil-saving and climate mitigation benefits.
For example, substantial aggregate fuel carbon intensity reductions could be achieved with many combinations of electric-drive vehicles; renewable and natural gas vehicles; advanced cellulosic biofuels; lower carbon first generation biofuels; and increased supply of renewable diesel. This also suggests that different fuel providers in the jurisdictions could focus more heavily on different alternative fuels and achieve similar climate and petroleum-reduction benefits.
The combination of low-carbon fuel policies in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia makes the Pacific Coast one of the most attractive markets in the world to deploy available and emerging low-carbon fuels. Our study shows that there is a range of options available to decarbonize the region’s transport and to meet policy targets.—Chris Malins, ICCT’s fuels program lead
Background. California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, British Columbia’s Low Carbon Fuel Requirements, and Oregon and Washington’s proposed Clean Fuel Standards all seek to reduce the carbon intensity of vehicle fuels over time.
California’s and British Columbia’s policies call for a 10% reduction in carbon intensity by 2020, to be accomplished through displacing gasoline and diesel by lower-carbon renewable fuels and shifting the composition of the vehicle fleet toward alternative fuel vehicles.
In October 2013, through the Pacific Coast Collaborative’s Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, the premier of British Columbia and the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington jointly committed to build an integrated low-carbon fuel market. British Columbia adopted its Low Carbon Fuel Requirement in 2008, and California adopted its Low Carbon Fuel Standard in 2010. Oregon and Washington are both working toward the adoption of Clean Fuels Standards.
Malins, C., Lutsey, N., Galarza, S., Shao, Z., Searle, S., Chudziak, C., & van den Berg, M. (2015) “Potential low-carbon fuel supply to the Pacific Coast region of North America” The International Council on Clean Transportation. Washington, D.C.