Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The US Transportation Sector can Reduce Petroleum Use and GHG emissions by 80% over the Next Few Decades

According to a new government study an 80 percent reduction in petroleum use and GHG emissions is possible in the transportation sector by 2050. This is the finding of research by the Transportation Energy Futures (TEF) project, a nine-part study undertaken by the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Argonne National Laboratory.

As reported in CleanTechnica, NREL Senior Analyst Austin Brown said: “Transportation accounts for 71 percent of total US petroleum consumption and 33 percent of our nation’s total carbon emissions. It presents significant opportunities to cut oil dependence while taking a bite out of greenhouse gas emissions. The finding that there are many options increases our confidence that a clean transportation solution is possible in the long term.”

TEF project researchers indicated that a combination of energy efficiency and reducing transportation demand can stop and even reverse energy use. This would make it possible "for competitive renewable energy supplies to provide an increasing share of energy."

TEF project researchers put forth three principal aims to achieve major reductions in US petroleum use and GHG emissions:
  • Increase fuel economy for all types of vehicles. 
  • Reduce use of transportation while providing comparable service (community development, urban planning, trip reduction through mass transit, tele-working, tele-shopping, carpooling, and efficient driving, and better management of freight demand patterns, including trends in operational needs and projections of future use levels). 
  • Expand use of low-carbon fuels, (electricity, biofuels, hydrogen, and natural gas). 
Transitioning to clean fuel and zero-emissions vehicles and modifying the demand for transportation are two focal points of the nine referenced in the TEF study. TEF project researchers indicated that reversing the trend of rising energy use in the transportation sector demand changes to the built environment, strategies to decrease personal travel, improvements in energy efficiency, and replacing truck freight with more energy-efficient rail and marine modes.

The keys to reducing petroleum use and reducing GHG emissions are highly energy-efficient vehicles and vehicles that employ cleaner fuels, (particularly in the Light Duty Vehicles). Marine, pipeline, rail, and off-road equipment, are also key to averting projected increases in energy consumption and GHG emissions.

Biofuels from sustainably-harvested biomass “could supply significant shares of the markets for jet fuel, gasoline, and diesel if DOE (Department of Energy) biofuels technology goals are met.” Balance of biomass resource demand and supply, including allocations for various transportation fuels, electric generation, and other applications.

To increase the use of hydrogen and electricity from renewable energy in the transportation sector, requires strong policies and incentives to help consumers overcome cost and range concerns, address automaker production and deployment issues, and encourage energy suppliers to rapidly build infrastructure.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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