CEC Releases 2011-12 Alt-Fuel Investment Plan for Comment

| USA, Sacramento CA

“Natural gas represents a strong opportunity to reduce petroleum dependence and GHG emissions within California.” CEC

The Californian Energy Commission (CEC) released its 2011-2012 Investment Plan for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program for comment in February, with USD 31 million (31% of total allocated) going to methane and hydrogen projects, including incentives for natural gas vehicle deployment. Increased funding over the previous allocation is directed to natural gas fuelling infrastructure development.

The document recognises the changing fuel environment and increased opportunities for natural gas as a transportation fuel in the US.

The following extracts come from the draft Investment Plan:

“Natural gas is expected to play a growing role in the state’s transportation sector, in response to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, volatile petroleum prices, and air quality standards. Significant opportunities remain for expanding the use of medium‐ and heavy‐duty natural gas vehicles in a variety of applications. These opportunities are discussed in greater detail in the Medium‐ and Heavy‐Duty Vehicles section of the investment plan.

A modest network of fueling infrastructure already exists for natural gas vehicles. However, many of these stations require upgrades, and increases in natural gas vehicles will only occur when range anxiety and fleet fueling operations are addressed. The Energy Commission is allocating $8 million to support the installation of new natural gas fueling infrastructure and upgrades to existing infrastructure. An expanded natural gas fueling infrastructure also creates additional opportunities to incorporate biomethane from anaerobically digested waste‐based biomass feedstocks into California’s transportation fueling infrastructure.” (Page 7)

“Given its abundant existing supply and distribution infrastructure, natural gas represents a strong opportunity to reduce petroleum dependence and GHG emissions within California. Vehicles operating on compressed natural gas (CNG) reduce petroleum fuel use by 99 percent, and reduce GHG emissions by 29 percent relative to gasoline and by 21 percent relative to diesel on a full fuel cycle basis.”  (Page 57)

” Given anticipated changes to the ARB’s Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) regulations, the regulatory environment for CNG vehicles in California is favorable. The ARB is proposing to revise current LEV regulations to achieve Super Ultra LEV exhaust emissions fleet average by 2022 (LEV III). More importantly for NGVs, CARB is proposing to lower current evaporative emissions standards and effectively require that larger proportions of California vehicles must be certified for zero evaporative emissions. CNG vehicles will be relatively easy to certify to exhaust emissions below SULEV and the zero evaporative standards.” (Page 64)

Assembly Bill 118 (Nuñez, Chapter 750, Statutes of 2007), created the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The statute, subsequently amended by AB 109 (Nuñez, Chapter 313, Statutes of 2008), authorizes the California Energy Commission to develop and deploy alternative and renewable fuels and advanced transportation technologies to help meet the state’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum dependence in the transportation sector.

The 2011-2012 Draft Investment Plan is available here. It includes an update on the activities of the Program.

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