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Refueling Availability for Alternative Fuel Vehicle Markets: Sufficient Urban Station Coverage

UCD-ITS-RP-08-33

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Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

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Suggested Citation:
Melaina, Marc W. and Joel Bremson (2008) Refueling Availability for Alternative Fuel Vehicle Markets: Sufficient Urban Station Coverage. Energy Policy 36 (8), 3223 - 3231

Alternative fuel vehicles can play an important role in addressing the challenges of climate change, energy security, urban air pollution and the continued growth in demand for transportation services. The successful commercialization of alternative fuels for vehicles is contingent upon a number of factors, including vehicle cost and performance. Among fuel infrastructure issues, adequate refueling availability is one of the most fundamental to successful commercialization. A commonly cited source reports 164,300 refueling stations in operation nationwide. However, from the perspective of refueling availability, this nationwide count tends to overstate the number of stations required to support the widespread deployment of alternative fuel vehicles. In terms of spatial distribution, the existing gasoline station networks in many urban areas are more than sufficient. We characterize a sufficient level of urban coverage based upon a subset of cities served by relatively low-density station networks, and estimate that some 51,000 urban stations would be required to provide this sufficient level of coverage to all major urban areas, 33 percent less than our estimate of total urban stations. This improved characterization will be useful for engineering, economic and policy analyses.