Use of low-carbon renewable diesel and biodiesel fuels are delivering significant greenhouse gas (GHG) and other emissions reductions in California, and hold expanded opportunities for reducing carbon emissions from the trucking sector in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and six other Northeastern states.
According to new GHG emissions inventory released by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), renewable fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel eliminated 15 million metric tons of CO2 in 2020, the equivalent of taking more than 3 million passenger cars off the roads. Biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels accounted for 44% of the credits generated by California’s low carbon fuels standard in 2020 and made up 21% of the entire diesel fuel pool. The use of these low-carbon renewable fuels, biodiesel and renewable diesel, accounted for more than twice the volume of ethanol in the fuel pool in 2020 (20.8% vs 10.1%).
Analysis of California’s GHG emissions inventory trends from the transportation and other sectors shows the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years in virtually every sector. It also showed that GHG emissions from the electric power sector (both in-state generated and imported) overall are 2.4 times that of GHG emissions attributed to the heavy-duty diesel sector (60 million metric tons (MMT) vs 25 MMT).
A recent study evaluating options for commercial truck fleets in the country’s heavily-traveled Northeast corridor found that compared to a full electrification strategy, between now and 2032, three times the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions can be achieved at 25% of the cost by accelerating the turnover of older trucks to new advanced technology diesel models and utilizing low-carbon renewable biodiesel fuels across the entire fleet.
The potential for large scale carbon reductions from battery electric, fuel cell and hydrogen internal combustion engines across large portions of the global economy depends on many factors. If successful, it is still relatively far off, and will be measured in decades. Considerable development of fueling supply, infrastructures, vehicles, and equipment supporting infrastructures are necessary to make these alternatives competitive with diesel.
Globally, one out of every two economic sectors depend on diesel power. Trucks, trains, buses, marine workboats, as well as agricultural, forestry, mining and construction equipment rely almost exclusively on diesel. Tackling the multiple challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires many solutions. No other fuel or technology can match the combination of energy efficiency, work capability, reliability, durability, economical operation, and environmental performance that diesel delivers in every corner of the world.