MWGT 2020 Day 6 Recap

Week 2 of the Midwest Green Transportation Forum and Expo included three more sessions – at 10:30 am, 1 pm and 2:30 pm, on a diverse set of topics.

At 10:30 am, the conference presented a 90-minute panel on EV Charging Planning Strategies and Tools. Luke Stedke from DriveOhio at ODOT moderated the session. He remarked on DriveOhio’s four pillars of focus that include EV charging, exemplified by their report released in June. Panelists included Tonia Buell from State of Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Grace Van Horn from MJ Bradley, Florian Kolb with InterTrust, and Eric Wood at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Tonia recounted WSDOT’s ten years of experience and lessons learned from EV infrastructure planning. The goal has always been to serve the EV consumer by paving the way for EV stations to enable intercity travel and help the market grow. WSDOT and partners incorporated numerous funding sources and projects into a coordinated effort that enlisted many stakeholders. Watch the session recording to understand WSDOT’s many lessons learned. 

Grace provided an overview of MJ Bradley’s EV infrastructure planning tool, developed in partnership with Georgetown Climate Center. It utilizes data sets that include existing charging stations, traffic volumes, population densities and commercial activity. With this tool they conducted a comprehensive regional study and planning process for the Northeast United States. This has resulted in a clear roadmap for developing charging infrastructure in that region.

Florian discussed InterTrust’s planning tool, which integrates a wide range of datasets that are not typically available because of security and trust issues with gaining access. This included a detailed view of utility power infrastructure and many others at the neighborhood level. Thus, it’s a powerful solution for localized planning. Their platform overcomes earlier barriers by providing full security for data and managing varying levels of access. It also integrates data seamlessly and provides an intuitive interface for users.

Eric discussed NREL’s approach through their EVI-Pro tool. It also combines multiple datasets to provide rich picture of aggregated demand that can be adjusted based on multiple market scenarios. Based on future EV adoption scenarios, he foresees public charging needs that will increase disproportionately as more people without garage access enter the market. Electrification of shared mobility will further ramp up demand, as predicted by EVI-Pro modeled scenarios.

The 1 pm session, Federal and Midwest Policy Models, Priorities and Outlook, was moderated by Clean Fuels Ohio’s Policy Director, Tyler Fehrman. Panelists included Brendan Jordan from Great Plains Institute (GPI), Ken Brown from Transportation Energy Partners (TEP), and Kyle Winslow from Calstart.

Brendan focused on GPI’s initiative to advance a coordinated approach to Clean Fuels Policy (CFP) in the Midwest. While loosely based on the successful Low Carbon Fuel Standard operating for ten years in a few Western states, the Midwest model would be distinctly different by more accurately valuing carbon reduction values, especially from biofuels, including the impact of advanced on-farm conservation practices. Thus, farmers would be able to benefit more from participation in the policy. The CFP is market-based and doesn’t pick winners and losers -- this makes it a good fit for the Midwest.

Ken discussed TEP’s emphasis at the federal level of an all-of-the-above approach that embraces low and zero emission options that include renewable natural gas and propane, biofuels, hydrogen and electric. TEP is pursuing policies that fit within that framework. Ken added that while opportunities may be different, depending on election results, they will exist regardless of election outcomes.

Kyle focused on the substantial variety and availability of federal money for clean vehicle incentives. CALSTART is working to apply lessons learned at the state level on the success of point of sale incentives, such as voucher programs, to federal policy. He and Ken both emphasized opportunities for EV and other infrastructure funding that leverages the Federal Highway corridor designations.

The 2:30 pm session was Benefits of Sourcing Renewable Propane Autogas. Jonathan Overly from East Tennessee East Tennessee Clean Fuels served as moderator. Panelists included Steve Whaley from Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), Stuart Weidie with Alliance Autogas, and David Slade with Renewable Energy Group (REG). 

Steve outlined several scenarios for the environmental benefits of propane autogas compared with EVs in the medium-duty commercial sector. These included conventional propane, blends of conventional and renewable, 100% renewable, and various blends of renewable propane and renewable DME -- renewable DME is a product of dairy methane production. The bottom line is that propane compares quite favorably with EVs, and the specifics depend on the mix of renewables on the grid and specific blends of propane and DME that are utilized.

Next, David walked through the process for making renewable propane and its environmental attributes. Essentially, renewable propane is a biproduct of producing renewable diesel fuel. Initially, it was considered uneconomic, however, this is changing. Renewable propane is chemically nearly identical to conventional propane. This makes it an ideal drop in option for any fleets using or considering propane that desire greater net CO2 reduction benefits. It also produces much less particulate matter and NOx byproducts. He and other panelists see significant benefits and opportunity, especially as low carbon policy evolves.

Stuart discussed comparisons between EVs and other zero tailpipe emissions options and liquid fuels. He provided data to illustrate carbon emissions from electric vehicles vs. propane based on a well-to-wheels comparison. These analyses suggest that propane autogas often is cleaner on a net carbon basis, especially when generation sources are non-renewable, and factoring in power loss due to transmission. Stuart strongly asserted that liquid fuels, including renewable propane, will have a strong role long into the future. This is because the internal combustion engine will be with us for many more decades.

All #MWGT2020 virtual sessions will be accessible 24-48 hours from the live presentations through the Whova app. Please contact the Clean Fuels Ohio staff with any needs and connect with other panelists through Whova.

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