Low Carbon Fuel Standard Proving More Successful Than Expected

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Biofuel crops (photo: Texas A&M University biofuels research alliance)

Biofuel crops (photo: Texas A&M University biofuels research alliance)

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A report analyzing the uptake of low-carbon fuels says that fossil-fuel alternatives are actually growing faster than expected.

The report, produced by a coalition of investors, utilities, and makers of alternative fuels and vehicles, suggests alternative fuels are proving more popular than anticipated, with biodiesels in particular more popular than ever before.

It deems that California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is succeeding in its aims to encourage technical innovation in the alt-fuels sphere.

The LCFS was established in 2007, signed by then-Governor Schwarzenegger with the aim of reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by ten percent, by 2020.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the standard in 2009, and it's been in force since 2011.

It works using a credits-based system, not dissimilar from the ZEV credits system used to good effect by Tesla to bolster its earnings. Credits are assigned according to the "seed-to-wheels" factor of different alternative fuels--based on the carbon intensity of the fuel, and how much energy it takes to produce

Eileen Tutt, executive director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition (CalETC), said the LCFS is doing "exactly what it was designed to do--open the way for new fuels and technologies to compete fairly in the marketplace."

Biodiesel is proving particularly successful. Some of this, the report says, is down to the fuel's fairly low initial usage, meaning initial growth is exponential--but renewable fuel grants awarded to some major producers has seen production rise significantly.

Much of the biodiesel used is currently blended with pump diesel--currently, no more than 5 percent. As with ethanol, more research and investment will be needed before higher blends are used.

Natural gas and renewable gasoline and diesel are also surging forward, though the cellulosic ethanol industry has struggled.

Overall, the industry expects to comfortably meet those LCFS targets for 2020--and for California at least, the carbon intensity of transportation fuel should drop by that 10 percent margin.

Combined with other factors like hybrid and electric vehicle sales, zero-emission vehicle standards, emissions regulations and fuel efficiency targets, the transport industry is undoubtedly getting cleaner by the day.

The full report will go online later today at CalETC.com.


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Comments (7)
  1. There is no single silver bullet that will solve all of our energy needs. The final solution will involve a combination energy sources.

    Biofuels are a viable part of that final solution.

    Cellulosic ethanol can replace up to 35% of our gasoline consumption, without any affect on food supply.

    EREVs and commuter BEVs can replace up to 90% of gasoline consumption.

    90% + 35% = 125%. That's way more than enough to completely replace gasoline, without any affect on food supply, using our current infrastructure of home electricity and liquid fuel filling stations. No need for superchargers or battery swapping stations.

    When you combine things, wonderful outcomes can occur.

  2. This would be a total disaster if it were not heavily subsidised by governments. Pull the subsidies and it will fold.

  3. Deal. Provided they also pull oil company subsidies, of course.

  4. [Applause] That may be the most pro-green thing I have ever read from you.

  5. I hope that the subsides/credits are not reallocated to the feed stock producer as has been done in the past, then some actual R&D could actually be done.

  6. Current research has pretty much destroyed the doomsday scenarios
    attributed to evil carbon. Turns out carbon is a very weak greenhouse gas which has never exhibited, over millions of years of Earth climate, any significant ability to control Earth temperatures. And the more atmospheric CO2 you ad, the less the effect, sort of like the effect of multiple layers of paint on a wall, in the words of one physicist. So it's amusing to hear folks still all concerned about carbon footprints and other irrelevant things. Global warming has stopped and demonstrably shown that all those climate models (no two of which actually agreed) were roughly 180 degrees out of touch with reality. Of course, true believers won't admit they were fooled.

  7. Very happy to read there is progress..

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