[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 19-Mar-2013
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Contact: David Glickson
david.glickson@nrel.gov
303-275-4097
DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Transportation study reveals potential for deep cuts to petroleum use and carbon emissions

Collaborative NREL and ANL project reveals opportunities for 80 percent reductions by 2050

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) today announced the release of the Transportation Energy Futures (TEF) study, an assessment of avenues to reach deep cuts in petroleum use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector.

"Transportation is an engine of our economic strength, but it also represents a key challenge for the future of U.S. energy use," NREL Senior Analyst Austin Brown said. "Transportation accounts for 71 percent of total U.S. petroleum consumption and 33 percent of our nation's total carbon emissions. It presents significant opportunities to cut oil dependence while taking a bite out of greenhouse gas emissions."

The study revealed strategies to potentially reduce petroleum use and GHG emissions in the transportation sector by more than 80 percent by 2050. However, each of these opportunities faces significant challenges.

The TEF study also confirmed that there is no "silver bullet" for decreasing carbon emissions and petroleum use in transportation. Instead, deep reductions would involve an inclusive approach, combining strategies to:

"The finding that there are many options increases our confidence that a clean transportation solution is possible in the long term," Brown said.

The purpose of the TEF study was to address critical questions and inform domestic decisions about transportation energy strategies by identifying possible paths to a low-carbon, low-petroleum future for transportation, as well as the barriers that may block those paths. It can help inform decisions about investments in transportation energy research, and can also help policymakers if they choose to expand the role of advanced transportation technologies and systems. The study focuses on identifying opportunities related to energy efficiency and renewable energy in transportation.

Three major strategies were explored in the study: reduction of energy use through efficiency and demand management; increased use of electricity and hydrogen from renewable energy; and expanded use of biofuels.

It was found that energy efficiency improvements and measures to reduce transportation demand, without compromising service, have the potential to stop or reverse the growth in national transportation energy use, making it possible for competitive renewable energy supplies to provide an increasing share of energy.

Focus areas of the nine reports that are part of the TEF study include:

Light Duty Vehicles (personal cars and light trucks)

Non-Light-Duty Vehicles (trucks, rail, aircraft, and other modes)

Fuels

Transportation Demand

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The TEF project was funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The study's steering committee included the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, academic researchers, and industry associations. Additional input was provided by transportation consultants from Cambridge Systematics, Inc. For more information, visit the TEF Website.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Visit NREL online at http://www.nrel.gov



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