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"The Future of Low-Carbon Transportation Fuels." in Physics of Sustainable Energy II: Using Energy Efficiently and Producing it Renewably



Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

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Suggested citation:
Yang, Christopher, and Sonia Yeh. 2012. "The Future of Low-Carbon Transportation Fuels." In Physics of Sustainable Energy II: Using Energy Efficiently and Producing it Renewably, edited by D. Hafemeister, D. Kammen, B. Goss Levi and P. Schwartz. Berkeley, California, USA, 5-6 March 2011: Springer.

Petroleum fuel uses make up essentially all of transportation fuel usage today and will continue to dominate transportation fuel usage well into future without any major policy changes. This chapter focuses low carbon transportation fuels, specifically, biofuels, electricity and hydrogen, that are emerging options to displace petroleum based fuels. The transition to cleaner, lower carbon fuel sources will need significant technology advancement, and sustained coordination efforts among the vehicle and fuel industry and policymakers/regulators over long period of time in order to overcome market barriers, consumer acceptance, and externalities of imported oil. We discuss the unique infrastructure challenges, and compare resource, technology, economic and transitional issues for each of these fuels. While each fuel type has important technical and implementation challenges to overcome (including vehicle technologies) in order to contribute a large fraction of our total fuel demand, it is important to note that a portfolio approach will give us the best chance of meeting stringent environmental and energy security goals for a sustainable transportation future.