WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Petroleum Council (NPC) yesterday approved a draft report on the future of vehicles and fuels, "Advancing Technology for America€™s Transportation Future."
The report finds that new fuel and vehicle technologies must overcome a variety of technological hurdles in order to penetrate the market and become viable options for consumers. NPC advises that the government should support research into these technologies and work with state and local governments and other stakeholders to streamline permitting and regulatory processes that impede introduction of new fuels.
However, given the uncertainty over which technologies will best serve the public in the long term, the government should remain technology neutral and let the market determine the technologies of the future.
The report was prepared in response to a specific request from Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, who tasked the council with evaluating the future of transportation and fuel technologies through 2050. The council€™s report represents more than two years of work from some of the leading experts in the nation.
"This comprehensive report provides additional detail and analysis regarding the challenges the market faces when trying to identify new fuels and technologies," noted NACS Vice President of Government Relations John Eichberger.
"NACS has been saying for a long time that research and development, combined with a coordinated go-to market strategy, can help determine which fuels will survive. We have also strongly cautioned the government against picking winners and losers during this transition; rather we have advocated for a technology neutral approach to reduce barriers to entry in order to empower consumers to decide what the future will hold. It is reassuring to hear the NPC echo these sentiments, and we applaud them for their work on this report."
The council identified 12 Priority Technology hurdles that it considers essential to the commercialization of advanced fuels and vehicles. But while profound changes are possible, "despite sustained investment in technology and infrastructure, these fuel and vehicle advances are not assured. There are competing priorities in the pursuit of new fuel and vehicle technologies that are at once reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible," the council wrote.
The council also took a close look at infrastructure impediments to the introduction of new technologies. The report acknowledges the significant investment necessary to introduce a new fueling technology and noted that the lack of significant demand during early adoption could preclude such investments; similarly, the lack of refueling infrastructure can limit consumer purchases of new vehicles. One option that deserves consideration is orchestrating a concurrent rollout of vehicle and refueling technologies in an attempt to overcome the hesitancy of both stakeholders.
The council made five recommendations to facilitate the development and adoption of new technologies:
- Government should promote sustained resources to help overcome the identified technology hurdles.
- Due to uncertainty concerning which technologies will emerge as the best options for the market, government policies should be technology neutral and allow the market dynamics to drive commercialization.
- The federal government should convene stakeholder groups to streamline permitting and regulatory processes in order to accelerate deployment of infrastructure.
- The government should consider full life-cycle environmental impact and cost effectiveness across all sectors when considering GHG emission reduction options.
- Fuel, vehicle and technology providers should consider existing or new voluntary forums to address concurrent development of vehicles and infrastructure.