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Question of the Month - November 2015


What is renewable natural gas (RNG) and can it be used to fuel vehicles?
Answer: RNG is pipeline-quality natural gas made by collecting and purifying biogas, the methane produced from decomposing organic matter. Biogas can be collected from sources such as landfills, livestock operations, wastewater treatment plants, food manufacturing and wholesalers, supermarkets, restaurants, and hospitals. Once purified to remove contaminants and increase its heat content, the gas is called RNG and is a “drop-in” fuel that can be transported with conventional natural gas in pipelines, dispensed at the same fueling stations, stored in the same storage tanks, and used in natural gas vehicles without any engine modifications.

 

Despite its advantages, there are only 60 operational RNG production facilities in the United States. Many more use the biogas to generate electricity. This is due to federal and state programs, such as the federal Investment Tax Credit and state renewable portfolio standards, which incentivize the use of biogas for power generation rather than for vehicle fuel.

 

Production

The purification process for biogas is called conditioning or upgrading, and it involves removing water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and various contaminants and trace elements. From there, RNG can be compressed to make renewable compressed natural gas (R-CNG) or super-cooled to make renewable liquefied natural gas (R-LNG).

 

RNG is produced from feedstocks that come from a wide range of industrial sectors, many of which already collect and process biomass as part of their daily operations:

  • Landfills: Landfill gas (LFG) is collected from decomposing waste in landfills. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States. Landfills account for 70% of the operational RNG projects in the United States. One of the largest LFG-to-vehicle fuel projects is Waste Management's Altamont Landfill near Livermore, California. This project produces up to 13,000 gallons of R-LNG each day to fuel 300 refuse trucks.
  • Livestock Operations: Animal manure can be collected and taken to an anaerobic digester for RNG production. A few farms across the country have started to use biogas to produce RNG vehicle fuel, including Hilarides Dairy in California and Fair Oaks Dairy in Indiana.
  • Wastewater Treatment Plants: Approximately 9% of the more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants in the United States use anaerobic digestion to produce biogas. The Janesville Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wisconsin is an example of a plant that uses biogas to produce RNG for use in vehicles.
  • Other Biomass Sources: RNG can also be produced from lignocellulosic material, such as crop residues and dedicated energy crops, through thermochemical conversion, co-digestion, and dry fermentation. These technologies are being used in Europe, but have limited applications in the United States. RNG also can be produced from food waste, either alone or in conjunction with biosolids from livestock operations or wastewater treatment plants. CleanWorld Partners’ Sacramento BioDigester and quasar’s Central Ohio BioEnergy project convert food waste to RNG for vehicle fueling.

 

RFS2 Compliance

RNG qualifies as a cellulosic biofuel under the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program. In fact, RNG accounted for more than 50 million renewable identification numbers (RINs) in 2014 – 98% of all cellulosic biofuel RINs. According to organizations that track biofuels market data, cellulosic biofuel RINs were valued at $0.70– 0.85 per diesel gallon equivalent in 2014; this value is expected to increase in the future.

 

Other Benefits

Like conventional natural gas, RNG can be produced domestically and can displace the petroleum currently being imported for transportation use. However, RNG offers some additional benefits. RNG has practically a net zero carbon impact. On a lifecycle basis, RNG accounts for fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than most currently available motor fuels. RNG can reduce GHG emissions by 95% compared to conventional gasoline and diesel fuel. This is partially because capturing biogas from landfills and livestock operations can reduce GHG emissions by preventing methane releases that were occurring into the atmosphere. Additionally, RNG produced through anaerobic digestion eliminates odors and results in nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer as a by-product. Also, biogas feedstocks are plentiful, so RNG could make use of the 450 million pounds of municipal solid waste dumped in landfills, 160 billion pounds of food waste generated, or the 500 million tons of animal waste produced each year.

 

Barriers

Like conventional natural gas, the main barriers to RNG are lack of vehicle availability and fueling infrastructure, though efforts are underway to address both of these obstacles. However, RNG production costs exceed those for conventional natural gas, especially for small-scale operations. Small-scale RNG production can cost around $5.50–$9 per million British thermal units compared to $4.50 for conventional natural gas. Additional financing and incentive opportunities, as well as state renewable portfolio standards that encourage the investment in biogas for vehicle fuel production, may spur additional production.

 

More Information For more information on RNG, please see the following additional resources:

 

The National Transportation Systems Center


Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center is sponsoring a new speaker series—Beyond Traffic 2045: Reimagining Transportation—to delve into the trends that will transform transportation. This series will continue the conversation started by Beyond Traffic, the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) framework for a frank discussion about the shape, size, and condition of our transportation system.

 

The series starts in September and runs through December.

 

Click here for more information and to sign up for the webinars.

 

 

 

US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The Energy Department's EV Everywhere initiative, driven by Clean Cities and the Workplace Charging Challenge in the Vehicle Technologies Office, is supporting a variety of projects and resources to eliminate barriers to plug-in electric vehicle adoption and help stakeholders.
 

New EV Everywhere Website

To increase public awareness of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs), the Department of Energy just launched the new EV Everywhere website . This new website provides a hub of EV resources for consumers, helping them learn about available EV models, relevant incentives, vehicle charging and how driving an electric vehicle can save them money.
In addition to the consumer information, it also has a Stakeholder Solution Center that points state and municipalities, employers, fleets, electrical contractors, and utilities to the Energy Department's major resources for EV community and organizational readiness. As we continue to improve our resources, we will expand this section with economic analyses, data on EV demonstration projects, and more.
 

National Drive Electric Week Social Media Campaign

To promote the new EV Everywhere site and encourage conversation about EVs, the Energy Department is running a social media campaign for National Drive Electric Week. A nationwide celebration to heighten awareness of plug-in electric vehicles' availability and benefits, National Drive Electric Week is happening right now, with events wrapping up on September 20.
Throughout this period, the Energy Department is having a "digital word of mouth" campaign, where we're encouraging current and potential EV drivers to share their stories through text, photos and videos. Share your and your organization's EV stories by posting on your social media platforms with the hashtags #ILoveEVs and #NDEW2015 (for National Drive Electric Week).
For personal stories from our employees, check out our EnergySaver blog post 10 Things I Love About My Electric Vehicle, as well as our social media accounts throughout the week (EERE Facebook, EnergySaver Facebook, DOE Twitter and EnergySaver Twitter). In addition, join us on the Energy.gov Facebook page on Friday, September 18 at 2 PM for a question and answer session on EVs.
Lastly, our EV Everywhere logo contest is still accepting entries until September 25. The winning logo will be featured in EV Everywhere communications products, including the new EV Everywhere website.
 

Additional EV Readiness Resources

EV Everywhere and Clean Cities provide consistently updated information backed by expertise from DOE's National Laboratories through the Alternative Fuels Data Center's Electricity section as well as FuelEconomy.gov's About Hybrid and Electric Cars section. The AFDC's PEV Readiness Scorecard helps communities assess their readiness for the purchase and use of PEVs and their supporting charging equipment. Local Clean Cities coalitions can provide on-the-ground expertise and connections to a variety of stakeholders, such as local government staff members, utilities, and equipment providers.  The DOE's Workplace Charging Challenge provides a variety of publications and resources to employers considering or in the process of installing PEV charging at their workplaces.
 

 

 

Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator - Partnerships, Progress and Future Plans Webinar r


Join us for a webinar on Sep 21, 2015 at 12:00pm PT, 1:00pm MT, 2:00pm CT, 3:00pm ET.

 

Register now!

 

Earlier this year, the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Station Locator tool reached 20,000 alternative fueling stations listed. This milestone demonstrates growth across the alternative fuels industry as well as collaborative efforts to ensure the Station Locator is showing the most accurate and useful data. During this webinar, Andrew Hudgins, NREL, and Stacy Noblet, ICF, will present an overview of the key partnerships, progress, and plans for the future.

 

This webinar is open to all. Coordinators and Stakeholders are encouraged to attend. Pre-registration is required.

 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 

View System Requirements

 

Question of the Month - August 2015


What are the alternatives to traditional state fuel taxes?
Nearly all of us regularly use and access public roads, infrastructure, or transit services. As you may have read in the July blog post, Feeling Pain at the Pump? Factors That Affect Fuel Prices, it's common practice for federal, state, and local governments to tax motor fuels on a per gallon basis to fund transportation infrastructure and increase revenue. Returns from gasoline and diesel taxes are on the decline due to a number of factors, including rising construction costs, general inflation, and greater vehicle efficiency, which reduces fuel use per mile. To make up for this deficit, a number of states are evaluating and implementing alternatives to traditional motor fuel tax models through the use of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees, annual fees for vehicles that use certain fuels, such as electricity, or adjusting or establishing fuel taxes for certain alternative fuels.

 

VMT Fees

VMT fees are designed to charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive, rather than the fuel they consume. The concept seeks to base taxes on use rather than fuel consumption, which provides a fuel neutral approach and offsets decreasing revenue from increased vehicle efficiency. Concerns have, however, been raised over program administration and individual privacy. Several states, including Vermont and Oregon, have studied or implemented VMT fee pilot programs. In July of 2015, Oregon began a road usage charge program for 5,000 volunteers and is encouraging participation by plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) drivers. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) collects $0.015 per mile and issues gas tax refunds to participants. Vehicle miles will be monitored through a vehicle transponder.

 

Annual Fees

As alternative fuel use has grown, a number of states have established annual fees or decals to recover revenue that would have normally come from motor fuel taxes. These programs also provide a mechanism to collect revenue from those that charge or fuel at home and, in some cases, are used to incentivize alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). Fees have traditionally been imposed on fuels such as natural gas and propane, but are now being considered and implemented for PEVs. Establishing the appropriate level for such fees can be tricky, as different vehicle classes use very different amounts of fuel. In addition, some AFVs, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and bi-fuel natural gas vehicles, may already pay motor fuel taxes for their gasoline or diesel use. Examples of fees in place include:

  • Colorado requires a $50 annual fee for a PEV decal.
  • Georgia requires a $200 annual fee for non-commercial PEVs and $300 annual fee for commercial PEVs.
  • Louisiana requires an annual fee of $120 or a percentage of the current special fuels tax rate for compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane vehicles.
  • Nebraska requires a $75 annual fee for PEVs and other AFVs not covered under state motor fuel tax regulations.
  • North Carolina requires a $100 annual fee for all-electric vehicles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question of the Month



Question: What are some of the major electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) networks, and how can plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) drivers access their stations? What are the costs associated with each network?

 

Answer: Most PEV charging occurs at home, but for those who have a need to charge at a public location, it’s important to understand available charging networks. While EVSE networks and charging infrastructure are frequently evolving, a sampling of the major networks currently includes AeroVironment, Blink, ChargePoint, GE WattStation Connect, Greenlots SKY, NRG eVgo, SemaConnect, and Tesla. Each network has a unique model, with the most common approaches being monthly subscriptions, pay-as-you-go (i.e., pay per charge), and free (free to charge and no subscription fee required)

 

To determine which charging networks have EVSE along your regular routes and close to your frequent destinations, use the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Station Locator (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/) and the Plan a Route function (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/route/). Select a station, click “more details,” and refer to the “electric charging network” field. Other networks currently represented in the Station Locator include EV Connect, EVSE LLC WebNet, GRIDbot, OpConnect, RechargeAccess, and Shorepower. Please note that many public EVSE are not networked and do not require specific access cards.

 

EVSE Networks
For detailed information on a range of charging networks, see below. As mentioned above, this is meant to show the diversity among EVSE networks, particularly those represented in the Station Locator, and is not a comprehensive listing.

AeroVironment (http://evsolutions.avinc.com/services/subscriber_network/)

Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. Unlimited monthly access is provided for a monthly rate, or you may pay-as-you-go. To subscribe, call the company or fill out a form online. You will receive a key fob in the mail, which is needed to initiate a charging session. A one-time activation fee of $15 is required for new subscribers.

Contact: 888-332-2148, evscs@avinc.com

 

Blink (Car Charging Group) (www.blinknetwork.com)

Access: Pay-as-you-go. Start by registering a credit card with a Blink account. There are no required annual or monthly membership fees, and no minimum credit card balance. Once registered, you will receive an “InCard” and can initiate a charge using the card. Guests can also initiate a charge with Blink’s mobile application.

Contact: 888-998-2546, support@blinknetwork.com

 

ChargePoint (www.chargepoint.com)

Access: Pay-as-you-go, free. Sign up for free by submitting your credit card information via the website. You will receive an access card in the mail. If you initiate a session at a networked station that requires a fee, ChargePoint will assess an initial deposit of $25. Stations can be activated by using the ChargePoint card or your registered credit card. Users who do not have a ChargePoint card can use the EVSE by calling the number provided below, which is also listed on the EVSE.

Contact: 888-758-4389, support@chargepoint.com

 

GE WattStation Connect (www.gewattstation.com/connect/)

Access: Pay-as-you-go. To start charging with WattSation Connect, register and log in through the website. You will then be asked to link your account to PayPal for payment, and download the WattStation Connect mobile application.

Contact: 855-443-3873, wattstation.support@ge.com

 

Greenlots SKY (www.greenlots.com) ·

Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. To start charging with the Greenlots SKY network, download the Greenlots mobile application, which will allow you to search for stations, view real-time status and pricing, and choose between a prepaid monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go. · Contact: 888-751-8650, support@greenlots.com

 

NRG eVgo (www.nrgevgo.com/) ·

Access: Monthly subscription, pay-as-you-go. NRG eVgo provides multiple charging network plan options, including a monthly subscription and an option to pay-as-you-go. To subscribe, visit the website and sign up for a charging plan in your area.

Contact: 855-509-5581, support@evgonetwork.com

 

SemaConnect (www.semaconnect.com/) ·

Access: Pay-as-you-go. To sign up, log on to the SemaConnect website and open a new account with a $20 balance charged to a major credit card. You will receive a “SemaCharge Pass” radio-frequency identification (RFID) card that can be used to initiate charging at any SemaConnect location. SemaConnect also offers mobile payments via its smartphone application, toll-free number, or via a QR code scan.

Contact: 800-663-5633

 

Tesla Supercharger (www.teslamotors.com/supercharger)

Access: Free.Tesla Superchargers do not require an access card; Tesla Model S owners can drive up and plug in. The chargers are compatible with Model S vehicles equipped with the 85 or 60 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack that have been configured to use Superchargers. Note that other PEV models cannot access Tesla Superchargers.

Contact: 877-79-TESLA

The table below provides an overview of the access type and costs associated with each network.

 

Network Access

Cost

AeroVironment

Monthly subscription;

Pay-as-you-go

$19.99 per month

$4.00-$7.50 per charge

Blink

Pay-as-you-go

$0.39-$0.79 per kWh OR

$6.99-$9.99 per charge

ChargePoint

Pay-as-you-go;

Free

$25 initial fee

Cost per charge varies

GE WattStation Connect

Pay-as-you-go

Cost per charge varies

Greenlots SKY

Monthly subscription;

Pay-as-you-go

Subscription costs and cost per charge vary

 

Multi-Network Access

Some companies have teamed up to facilitate access to multiple charging networks with one access/payment card. Nissan LEAF drivers, for example, can enroll in the EZ-Charge program (www.ez-charge.com) and use EVSE on the AeroVironment, Blink, ChargePoint, Greenlots, and NRG eVgo networks in certain markets.

 

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

technicalresponse@icfi.com

 800-254-6735