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New Study Shows Alternative Fuel Supplies Could Triple on the West Coast

west coast fuel alternatives

Simon Mui, Director, Clean Vehicles and Fuels, San Francisco

In my line of work to protect public health and the environment from car and truck pollution, one of the largest barriers continues to be, frankly, the lack of clean, alternative fuel choices. For every fifteen gasoline stations you drive by, on average only one will offer an alternative fuel option. That virtual monopoly by the oil industry may soon change, based on a report released today by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and E4Tech, Potential Low-Carbon Fuel Supply to the Pacific Region of North America. The researchers found that the Pacific Coast region can greatly diversify its fuel mix through an abundance of low carbon fuels, which could provide over a quarter of our transportation energy by 2030, a three-fold increase versus today’s levels.

These potential supplies of low-carbon fuels can be largely driven by clean fuel standards, according to the study, that are already adopted or being proposed in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and California, creating one of the world’s largest clean fuels market. Governors from these states and the Premier of British Columbia signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate Change in 2013, which committed the jurisdictions to develop and adopt clean fuel standards and other climate policies in their jurisdictions.

The researchers analyzed eight different fuel scenarios, using a range of both conservative and optimistic assumptions, and found that the clean fuel standards across the region can be achieved. A mix of alternative fuels, such as clean electricity, renewable diesel, biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, and biomethane, could be utilized to reduce the carbon-intensity of fuels by 14 to 21% by 2030. These reductions translate to 40 to 60 million tons of carbon pollution avoided, or the equivalent of the annual emissions from 8 to 13 million passenger vehicles.

Despite oil industry attacks on clean fuel standards up and down the coast, including the recently leaked document revealing the industry’s creation and funding of 16 front groups purporting to be business and consumer organizations, the ICCT/E4Tech study demonstrates the feasibility of meeting the standards and the ability to diversify the transportation energy mix. It’s high time to move forward and not backwards.

Here’s what’s happening state by state in the U.S.

California

California adopted a low carbon fuel standard as part of the Global Solution Act in 2006. The standard requires oil companies to provide cleaner alternative fuels–like electricity, advanced biofuels, and biogas – or to also clean up their own petroleum operations to directly lower their carbon emissions. The flexible nature of the requirements allow oil refineries and distributors to gradually provide cleaner fuels over time, ensuring that these clean fuels are economically viable and readily available to our citizens.
The standard has provided valuable incentives to both small and large clean fuel businesses, helped diversify the state’s fuel supply, and reduce public health burdens, according to a study by American Lung Association and EDF. California’s Air Resources Board, which implements the program, will be voting on readoption of the program this February.

Oregon

On Jan. 7, 2015, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission approved rules to advance the state’s Oregon Clean Fuels Program. The rules go into effect February 1, 2015. These clean fuel standards require Oregon’s transportation fuels to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent over a 10-year period.

The standards also establish a clean fuel credit providers of clean fuels can sell to fuel suppliers who choose to buy the credits in lieu of incorporating more lower-carbon biofuels, natural gas, biogas, propane or electricity into their fuel mix.

The next step for implementation of the Clean Fuels Program will be to have the Oregon Legislature review the program and to lift an existing sunset on the program for Dec. 31, 2015. All eyes will be on Oregon to continue their leadership role in taking action on climate change. Click here to learn more and help endorse Oregon’s clean fuels program.

Washington

On Dec 17, Governor Jay Inslee proposed Carbon Pollution Accountability Act that would create a new, market-based program that limits carbon pollution and requires major polluters to pay for their emissions.

The Washington Office of Financial Management also commissioned a technical feasibility and economic analysis, conducted by Lifecycle Associates, that shows the clean fuel standard could be met and yield positive economic benefits, particularly if in-state alternative fuels production reduces crude imports. Governor Inslee has asked the Department of Ecology to draft a clean fuel standard rule and to solicit review and comments from legislators, stakeholders and the public. The standard is in the review phase now.

If the Pacific Coast is to help diversify its energy mix, move to renewables, and protect public health and our climate, it will need to continue taking bold steps, including rejecting the oil industry’s efforts to stop climate policies from being adopted. The Pacific Coast can be a model for the rest of the country and internationally for adopting policies that will expand the clean fuels market. Today’s report shows that it can be done.

Photo Credit: West Coast Fuel Choices/shutterstock

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Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on January 31, 2015

4 of the 5 low-carbon “alternative” fuels are biomass-based.  This means reliance on the limited net primary productivity (NPP) of the biosphere, on which there are already many demands.  Most existing biofuels are in direct competition with food production; the proverbial SUV-full of E85 consuming enough corn to feed one human for a year is not an exaggeration.

California should be ashamed of itself for having forced off the grid and out of service one of its two then-remaining sources of base-load low-carbon generation.  The agenda appears aimed at reliance on natural gas plus whatever else comes along, which is a pathway that can achieve barely 60% decarbonization when we need a minimum of 90% and should aim for 100%.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on January 31, 2015

A basic “biomass” Carbon framework needs to be established.

First, all biomass eventually returns to CO2. Some slowly, like soil carbon. Some quickly, like forest fire. Development of legitimate “biofuels” simply deprives fungus and termites of a free lunch.

Relative to the current Carbon flux, we are immediately in the negative CO2 emissions simply by burning dead wood for heat.

If nobody knows how to develop legitimate biofuels, that is a different issue.

Joe Schiewe's picture
Joe Schiewe on February 1, 2015

I agree.  Apparently the people, advocate groups and corporations that support these alternatives must be willing to contribute to the polititians campaigns more than those in nuclear for it certianly doesn’t make sense based on my research. 

Personally, on negative energy emissions, ocean acidification, mining impacts and helping those in energy poverty, I am encouraged that the next generation of nuclear reactors will be able to provide at least an avenue for progress. I have very little hope that wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric dams, biofuels and efficiency will ever be able to timely contribute significantly to our incredible energy needs and growth. The developing world is certainly not going to wait for them to provide reliable energy source.   I hope the the five or six companies developing small modular molten salt reactors can assembly line produce the reactors that can provide the high temperature heat for industrial, electrical utility and residential uses. These reactors are projected to be 1/2 the upfront cost of current nuclear, amazing inherent safety, negligible or no mining required, increased proliferation resistant, minuscule waste storage and they have a small & subterrainian imprint therefore can be distributed near the demand.  I also prefer nuclear powered synthetic ammonia transportation fuel (SSAS) which can be provided near the demand for less then current fuel prices. I agree that there are few in the current energy industry (even the existing nuclear industry is not a great advocate) of these energy policies and, probably more importantly, few that would provide the campaign funds to help those leaders/politicians who feel like wise. 

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 2, 2015

California should be ashame….

It is a shame that San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant management and the responsible SCE top excutives are not removed yet.

They cheated to their supervisor (NRC) by stating that the new steam generators were the same as the old, while it concerned new unproven untested designs. So they endangered the (people living in) surroundings of their Nuclear Power Plant.
What more cheats, harming safety more, if they were allowed to continue?

If similar occurred in the airline industry, management would have been fired immediately.
It shows the inferior state of safety consciousness in the nuclear industry, that NRC allowed that management could continue with the NPP if they replaced the faulty, dangerous steam generators by new ones, identical to the original ones (as originally stated to NRC).

It’s even worse. Many pro-nuclear defend the fraudulent behavior of San Onofre NPP’s managment and blame NRC for not allowing to continue with the faulty steamgenerators!
Apperently the industry refuses to learn, despite several big disasters.

Btw.
By far most renewable electricity is wind and solar produced. Check Denmark: ~40%  of all is wind produced electricity, ~15% other renewable (solar, biomass). And the ratio is shifting towards more wind+solar.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 2, 2015

Even existing reactors completely written off, cannot compete in high renewable environments. Their operation costs are too high.

So whether the investment capital is smaller with assembly line produced small modular molten salt reactors is not relevevant.

Looking at the high temperature (highly radio-active) molten salt/fluoride circuits, etc*) there is no reason to assume that the operating costs per KWh produced will be lower than that of simple PWR’s.
And the operating costs of those are already too high as VY, Kewaunee, Grafenrheinfeld show.

___
*) For more insight in the many cost increasing unsolved issues, check the comments at the TAP MSR proposal at TEC.
Due to the increased radiation emissions of MSR (tritium, fast neutrons generating radioactive Argon41), more people (especially their fetuses/children) in the surroundings will suffer from enhanced levels of DNA damage.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on February 2, 2015

They cheated to their supervisor (NRC) by stating that the new steam generators were the same as the old, while it concerned new unproven untested designs.

Bas, you’re lying (again).  The designers at Mitsubishi never claimed to be building steam generators to the original spec, but equivalents; the errors in modeling which led to the faulty design were missed but are now understood.  The SGs could have been replaced (again), or the plant simply run at 70% of rated power where the vibration problem would not manifest.

So they endangered the (people living in) surroundings of their Nuclear Power Plant.

No one was ever endangered.  The problem was caught long before anyone could possibly have been harmed.

If similar occurred in the airline industry, management would have been fired immediately.

People DIE when e.g. the fuselage skins of 737’s fail in heretofore-unknown ways and people on board get literally blown out of the aircraft at altitude.  Nobody in management at the airline, Boeing, the FAA or NTSB was fired.

That one aircraft accident killed 1 more than all the civilian fatalities in the entire history of nuclear power generation in the USA.

It shows the inferior state of safety consciousness in the nuclear industry

It shows your utter shamelessness.

Many pro-nuclear defend the fraudulent behavior of San Onofre NPP’s managment and blame NRC for not allowing to continue with the faulty steamgenerators!

State precisely what the problem would have been, in operating the plant where the fault did not manifest itself in premature wear?  The aircraft equivalent is a placard prohibiting operation in certain specific conditions.  Yes, the FAA does this.

Apperently the industry refuses to learn

No, you do.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on February 2, 2015

No one can compete against suppliers whose subsidies allow them to sell at negative prices.  That’s built into current policy.  Policy can be changed with the stroke of a pen, and probably will be; bankrupt countries can’t afford such luxuries.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 3, 2015

@EP,
I wrote:”It is a shame that San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant management and the responsible SCE top excutives are not removed …”. Because they were responsible for the fraude towards the NRC!
Probably to avoid the expensive testing for new steam generators. While they knew that it was not true as Mitsubishi correctly told them that it were new designed steam generators!

It is likely that SONGS asked Mitsubishi for new steam generators which would faster adapt to load changes, so SONGS would get more load following capabilities. So the new steam generators probably got thinner tubes made of stronger steel (=faster heat transfer adaptation). That made the new steam generators more sensitive for vibrations (so leakage or worse).

     “The SGs could have been replaced (again)…
Yes, NRC allowed that, even without demanding the replacement of SONGS management. That is dangerous weak behavior of the NRC, which explains why nuclear is still so unsafe (compared to e.g. the airline industry).

NRC showed similar weak behavior previously with other accidents, which explains why SONGS management decided to take the risk. SCE top-excutives expected no penalty if the NR detected their fraud.

     “70% of rated power….
Just check the unprecedented high number of tubes (1300!) they had to plug.
Such wouldn’t be allowed in the airline industry.
Another sign of a dangerous weak NRC.

     “No one was ever endangered….
If all had collapsed (quite possible with such vibrations) things would have been different.
Even now the leakage created some release of radio-active material, just as with other NPP’s, causing DNA damage to citizens in the surrounding.

     “People DIE when e.g. the fuselage skins of 737’s fail…
So we agree that the nuclear industry is allowed to have a worse safety culture than the airline industry.

Taking into account the huge damage and death that NPP’s caused in the past, I do not agree with that policy. Especially as the caused DNA damage hurts our (grand-)children.

     “Nobody in management at the airline, … was fired
Nobody cheated as management of SONGS did. Their fraudulent behavior caused the accident!

     “State precisely what the problem would have been,…..
Nobody can predict. But from process industry it is known that such vibrations can develop very fast into disasters. E.g. all tubes collapsing against each other so massive radio-activive fluid material in the turbine and releases, overheating, etc. etc.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 3, 2015

The problem for nuclear is that wind and solar:

– have near zero marginal costs. So they will produce for $1/MWh without losing money on operating costs;
Nuclear cannot.

– can be switch off and on fast and easy. So they produce only if the price is right for them.
Nuclear cannot.

These two cause that nuclear will suffer ever bigger losses in a competitive environment with ever more wind and solar. Only massive subsidies (incl. monopoly situations) can prevent that NPP’s have to close.

There is no space for baseload power plants in the future market, as the biggest German incumbent utilities (E.ON and RWE) also concluded!

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on February 3, 2015

wind and solarhave near zero marginal costs. So they will produce for $1/MWh without losing money on operating costs..”

The problem with solar and wind is that new solar is correlated with existing solar, and new wind is correlated with existing wind.  That means that once the penetration of solar and wind reach 20% and 30% respectively, the last thing a grid would want is more solar and wind; the result will be fossil fuel lock-in.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 4, 2015

Wind produces 40% of the electricity of Denmark.
And Denmark plans 50% in 2020.
They target 100% renewable in 2040 for electricity, which would imply >70% wind.

With the last adaptations of the Energiewende (EEG2014), the Germans also show that their scientists estimate that your 20%/30% thresholds are a non-issue.
In the EEG2014 they reduced expansion of biomass by a factor ~5 while they continue with at least 5GW/a new wind+solar. So wind+solar will be the main components in their 2050 electricity mix with 80% renewable.

In El Hiero wind produces near 100%.
etc.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on February 4, 2015

Bas, Denmark is the Jutland Peninsula with many surrounding islands.

And Germany is all worked up trying to wrest eastern Ukrainian coal and Russian fossil fuel without starting another catastrophic war.

Your examples of success are not viewed as good examples by others.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on February 4, 2015

Because they were responsible for the fraude towards the NRC!

You don’t even know the meaning of the word, which is “deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.”  SCE didn’t know the construction of the Unit 3 SGs was flawed, since the same design was used on Unit 2.  The Unit 2 SGs were just built to less-fine tolerances.

Probably to avoid the expensive testing for new steam generators.

The only way to test them is to use them.  The modelling was supposed to determine that the operating conditions would not damage the SGs in use.  The model was wrong.

While they knew that it was not true as Mitsubishi correctly told them that it were new designed steam generators!

Again, you’re lying.  You participated at Atomic Insights until you were thrown out, and that is where the full story of how the problematic steam generators were built was posted.  You know that MHI’s quest for greater faithfulness of construction to the plans actually caused the problems in Unit 3 (which were not present in Unit 2).  You refuse to admit to this knowledge in order to push your false narratives.  The best one can say about you is that you are reprehensible.

It is likely that SONGS asked Mitsubishi for new steam generators which would faster adapt to load changes

You know that’s false; that’s just more BS from you.  Your persistent use of BS shows that you do not care what is actually true.  That is why you were asked to leave Atomic Insights, and I’m surprised you haven’t been asked to leave TheEnergyCollective.  Maybe it will take a bit more.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 4, 2015

   “SCE didn’t know the construction of the Unit 3 SGs was flawed…
That is not the issue.
SCE cheated to NRC that it was a one-to-one replacement while it was not. By cheating they avoided the prescribed expensive safety testing of the new steam generators.

What is the use of safety prescriptions if NRC accept that those are not followed?
Unthinkable in the aviation industry.
One of the reasons airliners are so much safer than nuclear power plants!

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on February 4, 2015

SCE cheated to NRC that it was a one-to-one replacement while it was not.

The slightest bit of research would prove to you that SCE never claimed this.  The NRC’s own page on the subject says “as we investigate whether Edison demonstrated sufficient due diligence in its oversight of the redesign of the steam generators; how design changes that were made or rejected may have affected the safety of the steam generators….”

You have zero respect for the truth, Bas.  Your conduct here, as everywhere else I’ve encountered you, is reprehensible.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on February 4, 2015

As I have explained to you many times Bas, tiny Denmark does not have an independent grid; they blend their wind power into the mainland grid which has low average wind penetration, and use their neighbor’s dispatchable power for smoothing.  Germany also benefits from power smoothing using its neighbors’s grids which have plentiful dispatchable power.

The El Hiero Island example demonstrates just why it will be expensive for Germany to reach its renewable goal: El Hiero has 7 days of pumped-hydro energy storage!  

According to this article, their system costs about US $8 per peak Watt ($20/W avg?), and was 50% paid for by a European Union subsidy.  The energy produced will replace the expensive output of an oil-fired diesel plant (which will be retained for backup, according to this flyer).  The pumped hydro system uses a 700m path along an extinct volcano (with a naturally occurring bowl on top), and can carry the load for 7 windless days (flyer).  20% of the electrical demand is a dispatchable load – water desal. The peak load, 11 MWatts, is too small for nuclear.  The project is centrally owned and managed (government plus private investors).  So all we need is a 4x reduction in the cost of pumped hydro (plus a lot of new mountains) for the world to follow this model.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 5, 2015

As you can read in your link, they now also install PV (rooftop) solar, solar themal, want to change all cars to electric, want the car system and power plant to interact (load car battery when lots of electricity and v.v.), are converting farms to organic production and installing biodigesters that convert waste into methane for fuel and fertilizer, etc.

Compare that with the hold back mentality in Hawaii. Seems to me that citizens in El Hiero are better off.

Not strange that other islands want to folllow El Hiero.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 5, 2015

…Germany … trying to wrest eastern Ukrainian coal…“etc

Try to inform yourself a little better.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 5, 2015

…..Edison … in its oversight of the redesign … how design changes
So no one-to-one replacement, but new design (NRC rule: need to test first).

Of course the NRC employees are forgiving afterwards as their insufficient supervision allowed the whole thing to occur. Still weak NRC didn’t charge a penalty.

Btw.
Though unit 3 leaked, both generators were faulty (look at linked graph).
So less tolerance in unit 3 was not the prime cause. It’s a faulty design, allowing major tube vibrations.

It is wellknown that stronger steel & thinner tubes imply more vibration risks.

I estimate the change was made to give the NPP (needed) faster load adaptation capability.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on February 7, 2015

So no one-to-one replacement, but new design (NRC rule: need to test first).

Uh-uh.  You don’t get to drop your argument that SCE/MHI “defrauded” the NRC without admitting you were wrong.  You must publicly admit that your claim was false before I will engage you on any other argument.

Of course the NRC employees are forgiving afterwards as their insufficient supervision allowed the whole thing to occur.

That is another completely different argument… which totally ignores the fact that MHI built 2 sets of steam generators to the same plans, but different precisions.  You’ve been referred to those facts before, but you keep using pejoratives like “cheated” when there is no evidence that SCE even knew what MHI was doing.

I would prefer that TEC finally take note of your blatant trolling and simply ban you, but apparently you haven’t crossed their line quite yet.  Maybe it will take a bit more.

And who are the 3 clowns willing to up-vote your lying nonsense?  If they aren’t contributors, they are sock-puppets and should be banned also.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 9, 2015

MHI never would have taken the extra effort and risks to (re)design the steam generators, unless SCE/SONGS (the customer) asked for it.

Why should they. Building a copy of the old one is cheaper, easier and less risky.

And SCE/SONGS cheated to NRC that it was a copy of the old steam generators.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on February 10, 2015

Bas, you’re lying again.  The NRC had to approve MHI’s new design, so obviously the NRC knew it was a new design.  All of that has been documented for you.

I’ve had enough of your trolling and have asked for moderator intervention.  If you can’t be reformed, maybe at least you can be turned away.

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