New bio-inspired catalyst for partial methane oxidation may aid small-scale GTL
Japan researchers propose trilithium niobate as high-energy cathode for Li-ion batteries

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

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.

An 80% reduction in US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 has been generally established as the de facto required domestic contribution to stabilizing global concentrations at low to medium levels, that is, 450 and 550 ppm carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-equiv). … Within the transportation sector, the two basic options for reducing petroleum use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are fuel-use reduction and fuel substitution. … Hydrogen is not envisioned to be a major contributor in the near term because of techno-economic limitations leaving natural gas, liquid biofuel, and electricity as candidates to meet the dual national goals of replacing oil and reducing GHG emissions.

… Given the current barriers to increasing ethanol-based biofuels (blend wall, slow growth in cellulosic biofuel production, regulatory uncertainty surrounding the RFS), transportation electrification seemingly offers a more immediate opportunity to displace gasoline. Electrified vehicles (meaning all of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or battery electric technologies) could largely replace conventional gasoline vehicles, under favorable conditions (e.g., consumer attitudes, fuel prices, battery technology advancement, vehicle costs and subsidies). The likelihood of these conditions being met is speculative, however, and projections for consumer adoption of electrified vehicles have varied widely.

We are interested in the extent to which electrified vehicles could reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the sensitivity of these impacts across a range of travel demand and technology scenarios. We find that petroleum consumption and GHG emissions are highly sensitive to these inputs, with resulting petroleum consumption and GHG emissions varying widely. The implication for biofuels is important, to the extent they are aimed at meeting climate and petroleum use reduction goals.

—Meier et al.

The study estimated national fuel and emissions impacts from increasing reliance on electrified light-duty transportation, and the resulting implications for advanced biofuels. For the study, the team reconstructed the vehicle technology portfolios from two national vehicle studies (the 2007 Environmental Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles by the Electric Power Research Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council; and the 2009 Multi-Path Transportation Futures study by Argonne National Laboratory).

These two studies disagree greatly in regard to petroleum and GHG impacts, stemming from very different rates of vehicle electrification and travel demand growth that each study assumed. Neither offered significant sensitivity analysis, making it difficult to extend their conclusions to alternative scenarios.

The Wisconsin and Michigan team normalized the highly detailed vehicle assumptions and transport calculations from these studies around the rates of electrified vehicle penetration; travel demand growth; and electricity decarbonization. They also examined the impact of substituting low-carbon advanced cellulosic biofuels in place of petroleum.

The two studies—EPRI-NRDC and ANL—serve as “excellent bookends” for comparing minimal and maximal electrification of passenger transportation, the researchers concluded. They based their low electrification scenario (0.3% electric powered miles) on the ANL Study’s “PHEV and Ethanol” scenario, and the high electrification scenario (40% electric-powered miles) on the EPRI- NRDC Study’s High scenario with 95% electrified vehicles. The researchers also considered intermediate (20% electric-powered miles) electrification—halfway between the high and low.

They examined each of these three vehicle mixtures under low-, medium-, and high-growth assumptions for travel demand. These 9 combinations became the reference scenarios with defined fuel requirements and GHG emissions. These same vehicle combinations and growth rates are used to examine nine petroleum-targeted scenarios and nine GHG-targeted scenarios.

Fuel and emission impacts were determined by four primary considerations: (1) the total travel demand; (2) the vehicle mix that satisfies this demand; (3) the vehicle efficiency assumptions that determine fuel requirements; and (4) the GHG intensity of the vehicles’ fuels.

They estimated GHG emissions from direct vehicle-fuel combustion; power plant emissions (from electrified vehicle charging demands); and “upstream” life-cycle contributions from the petroleum fuel-cycle and electricity fuel-cycle.

They considered three levels of GHG-intensity for US electricity supply. The reference case scenarios assume no change to GHG intensity from current levels. The petroleum-targeted scenarios assume that electricity supply is decarbonized by 40%. while the climate-targeted scenarios assume that electricity supply is decarbonized by 80%. In the climate-targeted scenarios, they assumed that electrified vehicles receive their electricity from an 80% decarbonized electricity grid.

They considered state-specific contributions from nine generating technologies: coal, oil, natural gas, hydro, biogas, geothermal, nuclear, wind, and solar.

Their findings included:

  • None of the 9 reference scenarios met the 80% GHG reduction target, although 4 were below the 50% petroleum target and one was only slightly above.

  • In the petroleum-targeted scenarios, they substituted a hypothetical RFS-compliant advanced biofuel (i.e., advanced cellulosic biofuel) for gasoline on an energy basis, if needed, until the petroleum reduction target is exactly met—(i.e., to the point where gasoline and diesel consumption is reduced to 50% of 2011 levels).

    Thus, petroleum requirements for all scenarios exactly meet, or are otherwise below, the 50% reduction target. None of the 40%-electrified cases required any contributions from cellulosic biofuel, as the electrification alone provided sufficient petroleum displace- ment.

    No cellulosic biofuel was required under low growth and 20%-electrified conditions. The remaining five scenarios required widely varying contributions of cellulosic biofuel, from 316 to 8638 PJ. For comparison, they team estimated the RFS goal for cellulosic fuels to be equivalent to 1289 PJ.

  • The climate-targeted scenarios included cellulosic biofuel substitution to reduce GHG from light duty transportation to 20% of the reference GHG. The team also assumed that electricity is largely “decarbonized”, reducing GHG intensity by 80%.

    No scenarios achieved the 80% GHG reduction without contributions from RFS-compliant advanced cellulosic biofuel. Only three scenarios actually met the GHG target of 294 MT. The remaining six scenarios exceeded the target even while replacing all petroleum with low GHG cellulosic biofuel (at 60% lower GHG intensity).

Results from the 9 climate-targeted scenarios, hypothetically substituting cellulosic biofuel for gasoline (60% lower GHG intensity than petroleum fuel) until GHG is reduced to 80% of 2011 levels and assuming an 80% reduction in electricity GHG intensity.

of the climate-targeted scenarios achieved the 80% GHG reduction without contributions from RFS-compliant advanced cellulosic biofuel.

Even then, only three scenarios actually met the GHG target of 294 MT. The remaining six scenarios exceeded the target even while replacing all petroleum with low GHG cellulosic biofuel (at 60% lower GHG intensity). Credit: ACS, Meier et al. Click to enlarge.

The researchers then took the results of the climate-targeted scenarios and performed additional sensitivity analysis to extend the assessment to more than 135 cases, with the output the amount of cellulosic biofuel volumes required to meet GHG targets.

These cases span 5 levels of electrification, 3 levels of demand growth, 3 rates of technology advancement, and 3 levels of economy-wide carbon intensity. Electrification scenarios corresponded to the ANL study (PHEV & ethanol scenario), the EPRI/NRDC study (low, medium, high scenarios), and one additional 20% electrification scenario.

For each of these scenarios, three results were shown assuming high, moderate, and low rates of technology advancement—high tech advancement corresponds to the lowest biofuel volume and vice versa.

  • The low carbon economy assumes electricity is decarbonized by 80% and petroleum has 15% lower GHG intensity than current levels.

  • The moderate carbon economy assumes electricity is decarbonized by 40% and petroleum has the same GHG intensity as current levels.

  • The high carbon economy assumes electricity has the same GHG intensity as current levels and petroleum has 15% higher GHG intensity than current levels.

  • Near misses (within 5%) are included as meeting the GHG target.

From this analysis, they found that, assuming travel demand grows at historic rates, vehicle efficiency alone reduces petroleum consumption, but the reduction only exceeds 50% with a very high reliance on electrified vehicles. Holding VMT constant coupled with vehicle efficiency improvements, results in extensive fuel reductions: roughly halving petroleum use with almost no reliance on electricity.

However, significant contributions from both cellulosic biofuel and electricity were necessary to meet the 80% GHG target across the range of scenarios.

  • Scenarios relying almost exclusively on cellulosic biofuel exceeded the GHG target by 15% with constant VMT (no growth) and by 134% under high-growth conditions.

  • Scenarios with the highest rates of electrification (scenarios 25−27) were still not able to meet the GHG target, except with very large contributions from cellulosic biofuels.

  • Cellulosic biofuels contributions exceeded the 16 billion gallons (1289 PJ) RFS goal for 2022 in all cases. The lowest cellulosic biofuel contribution was 17% higher than the RFS goal in the case of 40% electrification and no VMT growth.

  • With 40% electrification, the low growth and moderate growth cases met the GHG target with cellulosic biofuel contributions of 1508 PJ (18.7 billion gallon) and 4540 PJ (56.4 billion gallon), respectively, well below the 7233 PJ (90 billion gallon) benchmark.

Importantly, we are considering only fuel demands for light duty transportation, that is, cars, vans, SUVs, and light trucks. A significant level of electrification is certainly viable for these vehicles, as BEVs and PHEVs are currently commercially available. Light duty vehicles are responsible for slightly more than half of the US petroleum used in the transportation sector. The remainder of transportation petroleum, however, is used for on-road and off-road heavy duty vehicles, trains, planes, and marine vessels. Electricity is not feasible for powering planes, marine vessels, heavy trucks, and most off-road mobile work platforms though some electrification of rail transport is possible. Therefore, achieving comparable GHG targets across these transportation modes would presumably require even higher reliance on cellulosic biofuel, in addition to the volumes required for light duty transportation.

… The implications of this research are daunting with regard to climate policy. Successfully decarbonizing light duty transportation requires simultaneous “successes” around several key challenges. First, growth in light duty vehicle travel would need to be moderate at most, but preferably low. Historic growth can be maintained and achieve an 80% GHG reduction only if nearly all petroleum is replaced with alternative low-carbon fuels. Second, an extremely high rate of electrified vehicle technology adoption would need to be achieved, such that nearly all light duty vehicles would need to be hybrid or electrified by 2050 and coupled to ongoing improvements in vehicle efficiency. Third, U.S. electricity supply cannot resemble the current fuel mix, but would have to be massively decarbonized; displacing the vast majority of fossil-fuel derived electricity with nuclear and renewable resources. Changes of this magnitude to transportation demand, vehicle fleet, and electricity are necessary, but still insufficient to meet an 80% GHG reduction, without additional low-carbon gasoline replacement such as that provided by cellulosic biofuels.

Over the course of 35 years, the fuel-mix powering light duty transportation could be radically different than today’s, requiring only a small fraction (0−13%) of current petroleum consumption. Simultaneously achieving the petroleum and GHG reduction targets would require a monumental effort to commercialize cellulosic biofuels, as well as impressive achievements spanning transportation planning, vehicle manufacturing, electric power supply, and public policy. Still, it is technically achievable. Our assumed vehicle efficiencies were based on average (not high) rates of technology improvement. Renewable and nuclear electricity supply technologies are available today. Though continued research and development is needed, the necessary biofuel contributions are within the range of recent estimates of achievable potential.

—Meier et al.


  • Paul J. Meier, Keith R. Cronin, Ethan A. Frost, Troy M. Runge, Bruce E. Dale, Douglas J. Reinemann, and Jennifer Detlor (2015) “Potential for Electrified Vehicles to Contribute to US Petroleum and Climate Goals and Implications for Advanced Biofuels” Environmental Science & Technology doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01691



I've read similar studies and all have the same conclusion, that wind and solar not capable of going it alone. That BEV is but one component of the puzzle. If one is truly interested in minimal emissions to environment then accept all avenues of doing so. This will take compromise and intelligent decision making to ensure we have reliable low cost power and cost effective transportation. We should move ahead with hydro and nuclear and never stop attempting to exploit these low polluting energy sources. Decrease use of polluting coal, but continue the progress of low cost clean coal as within reality the internationally community appears dedicated to continue the use. Efficiency and conservation measures a given. Do as much as possible to utilize biofuel as this can directly and quickly improve both economics and environment. We should continue to put production within hot seat and pull capacity forward . Also, exploit the fuel ability to increase ICE efficiency. We need an E85 high torque extreme low carbon emission engine in the mix to offset diesel.

Account Deleted

It is delusional to think that global warming is reduced by making vehicles with higher mpg. Problem with fuel efficient vehicles is that they make the use of fossil fuels relatively more affordable. That means the consumption will continue even if oil go to 200 USD per barrel. That is a problem because at 200 USD per barrel of oil mankind can economically extract oil for another 100 years in as large or larger volumes than we currently does with catastrophic consequences for the global climate. We need to stop using fossils altogether and the only way to do that is to direct all future research and development into non-fossil technologies. Automakers must stop developing more fuel efficient vehicles as it only increases the problems.

We need zero emission vehicles and nothing else. The fastest and most economic way to get there is to speed up the development of fully self-driving cars that operate on battery power. They can be made far more durable than fossil fuel cars or hydrogen cars that only are good for 200,000 miles and uses expensive fossils. BEVs can be made to go 1,000,000 miles and operated as self-driving taxi vehicles they can log 100,000 miles per year of transportation services.

Google is currently leading the effort and there is a good presentation of Google's efforts at TED talks for those who need to know see

I hope that Tesla's next car after model 3 will be a self-driving taxi made for durability and low cost operation and without a steering wheel or a gas pedal. Tesla might use Google's software and Google's capital for launching a massive global transportation service with millions of cars with these self-driving and self-charging taxies. That would really matter.


nice paper and useful set of scenarios. here are 3 comments:

1) carbon intensity assumption around cellulosic biofuel is still highly disputed. authors use 20% of reference GHG but there are plenty of folks who would disagree.

2) if we're talking about "economy-wide" reductions in GHGs, then our limited biomass resources might be best used in other sectors with few/no alternatives like aviation, marine, heavy duty vehicles. the single focus on LDVs could result in misallocation of resources.

3) more consideration should be given to h2 fuel cells. they are expensive right now, but like anything else, costs come down quick in initial years of roll-out. five major OEMs are commercializing FCEVs. You can't just write them off because of "techno-economic limitations." cellulosic biofuels are also suffering techno-economic limitations (see Biofuel Digest article from July 1st -- 'Where are all the gallons?')


This study is short-sighted if it doesn't address all forms of pollution including aviation and high seas shipping. There are 30,000 airplanes in the air at any moment in time; all burning hydrocarbons in the upper atmosphere. And, one bunker oil fueled ship creates as much pollution as one million cars. There are hundreds on the oceans right now.

The pollution problem is and has always been caused by mining and burning hydrocarbons. Halting the use of hydrocarbons cures the part of the pollution problem that man can control. Cows and fumerals are on their own.

Governments must force the change over to clean energy on an emergency basis and quit this nonsense of pandering to the hydrocarbon industries. Stop their subsides and transfer that money to clean energy. And, that would only be a start of the necessary hard ball game that must be played.

The energy system we have in place is built on greed, lies deception from the unholy alliance between the hydrocarbon industries, their paid political puppets, who we stupidly keep electing, and the propaganda from a hydrocarbon industry controlled paid off media.

Every time I read a new study such as this I draw one conclusion: 'It's too damn late to save man from himself."

Nick Lyons

Liquid hydrocarbons are energy-dense and make it quick and easy to transfer energy into vehicles of all types. A good way to get these fuels without using fossil sources will be to synthesize hydrocarbons from CO2 and H2O using high-temperature Gen IV nuclear. Wind and solar are not going to cut it.


Good comments. Will add some points:

1. Yes, we need to think outside the light vehicle fleet box. International shipping, travel, and small engine use are horrible polluters. It would seem this would be the low hanging fruit to improve.

2. U.S. biomass is a large and under utilized resource. One billion tons the consistent estimate with estimates of 1.8 billion tons with GMO feed stocks. Cellulosic process currently at 68 gallons per ton, with one supplier claiming a new process with 98% conversion rate and that would be a 100 gallon per ton yield. In a perfect world 100 to 180 billion gallons of ethanol. We do need to kick up forestry management practices to improve forest growth rate and decrease fire hazards. Insect damage trees within North America was rated the biggest CO2 emitter per rotting trees.

3. Cellulosic production very low and not expected to dramatically increase soon. Research has continued to offer better microbes, process control, and simpler processes. Remember it's not a go alone business, but thanks to corn ethanol, an industry. Hopefully, the learning curve isn't to long. Nonetheless corn ethanol appears to have ample headroom, probably to 20 billion gallons upon seasons with high corn harvest.

4. Carbon rating of corn ethanol, rated well below petrol when credit given to coproduct production. Also, the ILUC penalty is unproven theory and history is indicates false unless one attempts to claim farm bank land is "natural" when converted back. When attributing full transportation carbon to petrol, ethanol looks very good per local farm to pump. Use of anaerobic digestor really improves the math as well as the utilization of power plant waste heat, utilization of the pure CO2 coproduct, and the long list of clever technology of which one process converts corn kernal cellulose to ethanol with estimates of one billion gallon improvement to current fleet of process plants. So, it's hard to generalize as the results continually improve. A good process 40% less carbon than gasoline. With improved engine technology to maximize ethanol fuel benefit that figure would go north additional 20%. An E85 engine such as that developed by Cummings with cellulosic fuel, 85% less carbon than petrol. Some estimates are being vetted to push the combined technology to negative carbon rating. Really, were within the grip of a biological teleological revolution and stock experts are just starting to realize this.

5. The country needs to coordinate and utilize a balanced approach to improve and realize many different approaches needed. We need to steer away from radical change as that never ends well. Just to much of a gamble. As we gain better vision upon technology capability, costs, and potential, best to maintain our current path. Cutting edge is the bleeding edge and may result in horrid cost to economy.

Emily > ...continue the progress of low cost clean coal...

Only one "clean coal" is in production worldwide (Sask, Canada).

U.S. Department of Energy estimates that wholesale electricity prices with CCS technology would be 70% to 80% higher than current coal-based electricity.

So the "low cost" part seems not to be a current or near term reality. Perhaps a carbon tax would reveal the viable solutions.

Nick Lyons

Coal is carbon sequestered by Mother Nature--best bet is to leave it in the ground. We need to drive down the cost of nuclear power, which has the potential to be the on-demand, low-cost, low-carbon energy source. Coal will stay in the ground if alternatives are cheaper.


Good ideas; however, I look at it another way; we are proceeding way too slowly; A wise man said; "Necessity is the Mother of Invention." Apply the necessary pressure to force change and keep the hydrocarbons in the ground. As I said, removing oil subsidies is a start.

This is a fight between hydrocarbon companies and those of us who seek a continuation of humanity on Earth, nothing less.

Am I a radical? Only, if you think we should play nice with hydrocarbon executives who sends 200,000 Americans to an early grave every year and hid behind The Court Systems to continue damaging our land, water and air.

Kevin Cudby

This study repeats what I learned eight years ago while researching my book: "From Smoke to Mirrors". The world needs all technologies on the table. Carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels (Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, synthetic liquid methane) are essential for meeting the 2 degree limit.
Biofuel opponents often use faulty assumptions to oppose biofuels. Climate stablisation demands a 100% reduction of CO2, but not N2O or methane - these gases are not comparable (The IPCC is wrong on that point, but that's another story).
Here in NZ, forestry scientists propose to convert steep, poor-quality farmland to energy forestry. These sustainably managed forests would absorb an amount of CO2 equivalent to thirty years worth of CO2 emissions from ALL our liquid fuel consumption - and in a carbon-neutral world, the crude oil you get from these forests would be 100% carbon neutral.
Liquid hydrocarbons can also be made with solar energy In the right locations (not NZ or Germany) you get good EROEI etc. I reckon this is the best way to use solar energy, because liquid fuels are so versatile.
I agree with Nick Lyons - nuclear hydrocarbon production looks like an excellent idea.
However, biofuels can be put into production now. Solar and nuclear hydrocarbon production awaits probably (IMO) a decade or so of experimental development - especially in the area of direct carbon capture. There is no reason to believe it will not work. But the process has not yet had enough development to justify multi-billion-dollar investment.
The only way any of this can happen is if there is a sinking lid on NET global CO2 emissions, dropping to zero by 2080. Right now, the big problem is that obfuscators say "GROSS" CO2 emissions need to fall to zero.
It's NET people - not gross!
And, by the way, with moderate per capita economic growth and reasonable ICE development we should expect carbon-neutral gasoline to be more affordable at the end of this century that fossil gasoline is now. What's not to like?


Future development of solar PV arrays need not prioritize production cost over other concerns, advantages, benefits current technology offers. Rooftop solar today offers means to construct the most resilient regional utility grids and the most effective emergency backup power supply. Similarly, EV technology should prioritize rooftop PV R&D to accommodate both 'large pack' BEVs and 'small pack' PHEVs before time and effort is further wasted on self-driving autonomous nonsense.

Beyond some few new tech safety features, "completely driverless" operation isn't possible safely, won't address the constantly chaotic traffic morass nor the economic absurdity of senseless driving, flying, RV living, trucking and shipping goods around the world like there are neither long-term nor short-term consequences.

Analysis shouldn't neglect PHEV small 5kwh battery pack advantage as simpler match to rooftop solar and regional utility grid, 'vs' large 25-85kwh battery pack Leaf/Tesla BEVs recharging on this rough calculation:
100 Teslas or 1500 PHEVs?
100 Nissan Leafs or 500 PHEVs?
PHEV range limitation creates various economic incentives to drive less (tax fuels more), whereby fundamental and efficient modes of urban/suburban travel (walking, bicycling, mass transit), become viably commonplace. PHEV tech has most potential to reduce overall fuel/energy consumption.


Kevin: will you explain what you mean by net and gross CO2? thanks.


I am for all the above and continued technology development. BEV, PHEV, EREV, strong hybrids, open fuel standards (E85, Methanol), NG, fuel cells - all contribute to less oil and C02. Cellulosic ethanol, increased efficiency corn ethanol, ethanol from cane sugar, sugar beets and sorghum, methanol from NG and MSW and biomass. The future is bright. Combined with electrification these technologies all can contribute. There is no silver bullet.


From DNAIndia: "Coal India is set to invest a whopping $20-25 billion (over Rs 1.27 lakh crore) over the next 5 years to achieve its billion tonnes target by 2020, double of what it produces now."

Turkey plans to double coal capacity over the next four years.

In fact, a review of planned coal-fueled electric power production in the pipeline (announced, pre-permit, permitted, and under construction) shows these top five builders, rounded to the nearest GW:
China: 612GW
India: 366GW
Turkey: 66GW
Vietnam: 61GW
Indonesia: 33GW

Add in the rest and you get about about 1400GW of Coal-powered generation in the pipeline.

For sake of comparison, the US Coal generation capacity is currently around 200-210GW.

Put another way: add 6x (SIX TIMES) the current US coal generation capacity to the world over the next 10-15 years (coincidentally all in countries where US wonks preach the moral goodness of BEVs).

Whether or not US LDVs will have 15% more or less "GHG Intensity" is a great topic for academics to use as grist for grant-writing, but seriously, folks --- this is like yelling for your kid in the middle of a crowd that it's time to go home... and you're in the middle of a Slayer concert.

You have a good point Herman, but it's not a matter of just US LDVs. The technology that the rest of the world uses with be produced for the US and EU first. Nissan is not producing the Leaf just for the US. Nissan is producing the Leaf because they realized that they will not be able to sell an ICE car in emerging markets in the numbers they want to without killing off their customers.

The carbon and other emission targets the US and EU set do influence what is made because few manufacturers can afford to build an engine/car that is not sold globally.

China is already changing direction on coal. It will be slow progress, but at some point coal will suffer the same fate as other atmosphere damaging chemicals, like CFCs. It will probably take some major crop failures and massive population dislocations. But once it happens, it will be the end for coal that does not have CCS.

Policy changes pretty quickly when people start going hungry.


The problem with waiting until people start going hungry is that reversing a century-old trend with lots of unrealized consequences (like future debt repayments) is something you can't wait to start doing until the consequences pinch you.

I noted some time ago that electrification of LDVs could make a substantial dent in liquid fuel demand.  I'm living it; my last car averaged about 38 MPG, and here I am today with the Fusion claiming a lifetime average of 120.1.  That right there is a 2/3 reduction over the already-efficient diesel it replaced, and about an 80% reduction over the vehicle before that.  It's not even a full electric.  I think the problem is a lot smaller than the researchers believe it is.  What we need to make it happen is cheaper, better batteries (on the way) and lots of carbon-free electricity from dispatchable generation.  Wind and solar won't cut it.

Liquid fuels from atmospheric CO2, water and energy is a great concept but it's always going to be cheaper to use carbon that's already fixed.  Maybe we can cut LDV demand enough to run aircraft and shipping on biomass-derived fuels, but I'm skeptical.



Very good point on non-US and non-Europe coal plans.

However the reality is a lot of coal plants are being canceled. About 2 canceled for every 1 built, and the trend is accelerating. On top of that, China expects to have a 2020 carbon tax in place of about $17 per tonne.

I have no doubt India can double their coal production, but they'll be looking for buyers outside of India to offload it once it comes fully online because there won't be enough domestic buyers.

LNG spot prices are low now, and I expect them to stay low. When India's contract prices reset next year, imported LNG in a combined-cycle natural gas plant will be cheaper to build and run than a new coal plant.

Asia is at $7.30 per mmBtu for August delivery.

And because a combined cycle natural gas plant's capital costs are so low compared to coal, they're a natural fit to complement a large renewables portfolio.


Anyone who makes a long-term bet based on today's price for LNG is foolish beyond belief.


Too many posters underestimate the future of low cost 24/7 solar energy, low cost H2 and associated extended range BEVs and FCEVs of various sizes.

Warren Buffet does not. He is investing in all of it.

Low cost NPPs are not on the short and mid-term horizon.

Resistance is futile, burning bio and fossil fuels will be progressively phased out. Our children and grand children will insist and do it.

Warren Buffet does not. He is investing in all of it.
"For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit." — Warren Buffet
Low cost NPPs are not on the short and mid-term horizon.

We could do them very cheaply if we wanted to.  Before the NRC's regulatory ratchet, nuclear power plants were cheaper than coal-fired plants.  All we have to do is fire the regulators and the armies of lawyers and paper-shufflers on both sides, and put the money into hardware instead.


This study is flawed in that the upper limit of light-duty vehicle (LDV) penetration in 2050 is too low – “40% of vehicle miles travelled”. The study should have also examined cases of up to 90+% penetration.

Even at a glacial 8% annual improvement in battery technology, batteries in 2050 would have improved by a factor of 10, in which case, few people would purchase an ICE LDV (car, van, SUV or pick-up)at a higher price and with fuel and maintenance costs that are 3 to 4 times that of an equivalent EV. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that EVs do not displace ICEs in the LDV category, FCEVs probably will.


Cheap under designed rail oïl tankers have over 150 serious accidents/year in USA and Canada. Many people are hurt and/or killed every year. Property damages account for XXX$M/year and mostly supported by our taxes.

New regulations to reduce the above were voted in but are been fought in courts by the oïl/rail industries and not yet applied. The new safer tanker cars are not being built. Railroads improved safer proceedures are delaided over and over again.

NPPs without adequate regulations would be even worse.


NP, you are definitely right.  I exceed 60% of my VMT under electric power and that number would go up if charging was available in more places.

NPPs without adequate regulations would be even worse.

NPPs under the (very light) AEC regulations were vastly better than anything fossil-fired.  The entire pre-NRC fleet in the USA had no deaths or injuries to the public from radiation releases.  You cannot get lower than zero.

All the NRC has accomplished is saving the population from the scourge of cheap, clean power so they can breathe fly ash, eat mercury-laden fish and enjoy the benefits of ocean acidification and breakneck climate change.


Every once in a while I return to read these pages to see true idealogical ididocy in action.

You assume that a nice round 80% (why not e.g. 73.683%)reduction in GHGs is absolutely necessity, and somehow think that all done to date is totally useless, even though we are approaching the GHG emission levels of 1988 when the crafty fool Mr. Hansen issued his first caalamitous profi(t)cy. Meanwhile virtually all genuinely harmefull emissions are down by anywhere from 50-80% to officially harmless levels, depending on the particular emmission.

There are some facts that you neglect. The continent of North America is already a net zero producer of GHGs and has been for at least two decades, or more, with proper accounting. In fact it is the world's largest sink of GHGs, despite being the most technically advanced civilization in the world.

Feedback estimates of CAGW have proven to be not positive at all, but negative, unlike all the models, so CAGw is proven to be nonsensical and of no concern at all. Only politicians and rent seekers seeking an imprimatur for raising taxes seem to care.

How raising taxes reduces GHGs has never been explained, nor can it be.

The scientific measurements now taken confirm the intuitive reality that the climate of the Earth could not have remained what it is, amazingly relatively stable, without having "tipped over" and "run away" once in the 4 billion years of its existence as a positive feedback would require.

For those ready to believe in massive conspiracies and hopelessness, I recommend an immediate overdose of any many than lethal pharmaceuticals.

Lad, Don't Delay! Kill Yourself Immediately, reduce the population pressure.

Progress in genuine cleaner energy production continues with CCGC and Gen III+ and Gen IV nuclear advance, while the ultimate true solution of controlled Fusion keeps drawing ever nearer.

The World continues to improve every day as Poverty and Hunger recedes, world population stabilizes, and our technologies in use get ever cleaner.

Enjoy the Progress.

The comments to this entry are closed.