The National Petroleum Council released their report “Advancing Technology for America’s Transportation Future” on August 1, 2012. This report, which was commissioned by the US Secretary of Energy, has been two years in the making. The NPC also put out a parallel study “Prudent Development” – in this document, the NPC reports that “Beyond the power sector, there is potential for increased use of natural gas to displace oil in the transportation sector.” Their findings in “Prudent Development” included a discovery that our natural gas resource base could supply the US over 100 years of demand at today’s consumption rates. Additionally, 97% of all energy used in the transportation sector currently comes from oil. With this in mind, we consider the findings in the Future Transportation Fuels (FTC) report.
Two years ago in a letter to the NPC, Secretary Chu requested that the final FTF report answer the following question: “What actions could industry and government take to stimulate the technological advances and market conditions needed to reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. transportation sector by 50 percent by 2050 relative to 2005 levels, while enhancing the nation’s energy security and economic prosperity?” To accomplish this goal, over 300 participants representing industry, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations contributed to the study. In addition to natural gas, the study analyzed four other fuel fuels, including biofuels, EV, and hydrogen.
The study recognizes infrastructure barriers to the deployment of alternative fueled vehicles, but also identifies many solutions and short term options for transition periods such as utilizing Flexible-fuel, bi-fuel and plug-in hybrids facilitate transition. The NPC report suggests ways to surmount the challenges that lie ahead. One such solution is “building on existing infrastructure, corridor-deployment, and multi-fuel vehicles” as a way to overcome infrastructure challenges for wide-scale commercialization of advanced fuel-vehicle systems. These proposed solutions are given as options to facilitate concurrent development of alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure.
The study predicts the following for alternative fuels in the year 2050:
- Internal combustion engines are likely to remain a dominant propulsion technology
- CNG is the strongest economic competitor for the internal combustion engine (ICE)
- Reducing the cost of Plug-In electric Vehicles (PEV) and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) has a big impact on share.
For more details on the study, download a slide overview of the NPC’s Future Transportation Fuels Study