Electric Vehicles, Renewable Fuels Can Coexist in a Clean Energy Future – Sustainable Brands

The future of alternative energy will not be based on a single solution. Options are much more likely to include “all of the above” answers, using both
electricity and proven alternatives such as biodiesel.

Across the United States, more than 70 percent of all goods used in our
daily lives — from food to manufactured products — are transported to our stores
and homes by trucks. As the nation’s demand for goods continues to reach record
levels, cities are facing an increase in congestion, noise and air pollution. 

Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are the second-largest contributor to US
transportation emissions. Interest is high in zero-emission electric
vehicles

to transform the movement of goods. While Tesla and other manufacturers have
made inroads in the US passenger vehicle market, electric trucks are still in
their infancy. Wood Mackenzie, a global research and consulting firm,
estimates there were about 2,000 electric trucks on US roads at the end of last
year.

As organizations look to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in their
transportation operations, biodiesel offers environmental benefits today.

“Biodiesel continues to have a significant niche in the fuels market because it
increases energy security, improves air quality and the environment, and
provides safety benefits,” says Linda Bluestein, co-director of Clean
Cities
in the US Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.
The office seeks to form partnerships between government, private and nonprofit
organizations to advance alternative fuels and petroleum-displacement methods.

“Fuel diversity is extremely important for energy security, resiliency,
innovation and affordability,” she added. And achieving a diverse fuel supply
depends on exploring new options — such as electricity, compressed natural gas
and hydrogen — without abandoning proven alternative fuel solutions available
today, such as
biodiesel.

The transition to a zero-emission future will be a paradigm shift — requiring
greater collaboration among fleets, truck manufacturers, utilities and
policymakers. The development of charging infrastructure also is a significant
hurdle.

“Because of the buzz around electric vehicle technologies today, people often
think they are going to come in and wipe the slate clean,” says Bailey
Arnold
, senior manager of clean air initiatives at the American Lung
Association
.
“But we likely will have diesel-powered vehicles on the road well into the
future, so we will need liquid fuels to power these vehicles. That’s why we need
to embrace cleaner-burning liquid fuel solutions — like biodiesel — that are
right here, right now.”

Biodiesel has already been down the path of investment and acceptance that
electric vehicles have just begun.

In June 2000, biodiesel became the first and only alternative fuel to have
successfully completed the Tier I and Tier II Health Effects testing
requirements of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The biodiesel industry
invested more than $2 million and four years into the health-effects testing
program, with the goal of setting biodiesel apart from other alternative fuels
and increasing consumer confidence in biodiesel.

The quality has gotten better and better. Biodiesel blends must meet 23 minimum
standards created by ASTM International designed to enhance the safety and
quality of the fuel — petroleum diesel has to meet 14 standards. Biodiesel is
higher in cetane for reduced smoke and is naturally sulfur-free, meeting limits
of 15 parts per million or less.

A biodiesel federal income tax credit was first adopted in 2005 to encourage
distribution. The tax credit has been extended several times, most recently in
December through 2022.

Biodiesel has proven its value as an affordable alternative fuel option for
fleets. It is a domestically produced, clean-burning and renewable substitute
for petroleum diesel and can be used in diesel vehicles without engine
modification or changes in fuel infrastructure.

Comparing vehicle fuel options

The future of alternative energy will not be based on a single solution. Options
are much more likely to include “all of the above” answers, using both
electricity and proven alternatives such as biodiesel.

“Biodiesel can continue to have a significant niche in the fuels market,”
Bluestein said. “This will allow it to increase resiliency, lower certain
emissions, and provide a fuel with great performance and emissions profiles for
on- and off-road purposes.”

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