As attention continues turning toward alternative energy sources, many fleets are watching and waiting for electric vehicles. The development of this technology is valuable, but it will not be fully viable for much of the transportation industry for several more years — and the environment can’t wait that long.
Each day that a fleet waits to switch to cleaner fuels, more harmful emissions enter the atmosphere. Switching now will have a cumulative effect and lead to greater reductions over time, so why wait? Let’s examine the facts and see how biodiesel can simplify and speed up that switch.
Numbers Don’t Lie
First, it’s important to understand where fleets sit in the big picture. The transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S.1 From 1990 to 2018, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the transportation industry in the U.S. increased 24%.2 Vehicle emissions also contribute to particulate matter, a pollution that can cause serious health problems.3
2030 is a critical year in the fight against climate change. We must make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes” to limit global warming by then or the results could be irreversible, according to a report from a United Nations body composed of global experts on climate change.4 Greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for years, so every ton saved has a cumulative effect.
As you can see, time is of the essence. It’s like putting money into a retirement account. We’re told early in our career that we should put money away because it will compound over time. If you don’t invest early, you’ll never have the chance to get that money back. In the same way, reducing GHG emissions now will have a cumulative effect and leader to greater reductions over time.
What it Means for Fleets
In the transportation industry, a lot of the focus has shifted to electric vehicles. They do hold promise, but in many applications — especially long-haul trucking — the technology cannot meet current performance demands. Many fleets continue to run on petroleum diesel, saying they’ll wait to change their fuel until electric trucks and charging infrastructure can handle their needs. This means they’re missing out on an easy-to-adopt solution that can help them reduce emissions right now: biodiesel.
Biodiesel is a liquid fuel that can be used in existing diesel engines and fueling infrastructure without additional capital expense. Supply is strong, with domestic production able to meet demand coast to coast. Performance is also strong, as fleets of all types use it successfully without problems.
Most importantly, biodiesel significantly reduces several types of emissions compared with petroleum diesel:
- Reduces total hydrocarbons by nearly 70%
- Reduces particulate matter by nearly 50%
- Reduces carbon monoxide by nearly 50%5
Biodiesel is made from environmentally friendly raw materials that are waste or byproducts of other processes. From the planting of the feedstocks to its end use, biodiesel is an excellent solution. Its lifecycle GHG emissions are up to 86% lower than petroleum diesel,6 and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has regularly given biodiesel the lowest carbon intensity score among liquid fuels. Carbon intensity is the measure of GHG emissions associated with producing and consuming a fuel, and the lower the score, the more environmentally friendly the fuel is.
Something that may surprise people is that CARB gives biodiesel a lower score than even electric vehicles. Why is that, if EVs have zero emissions? A big reason is that CARB looks at the whole lifecycle of the fuel, from production to delivery to end use. Fossil fuels are still the primary source for electricity generation. That’s another example of why it’s important to take a holistic view with alternative fuels.
So, while many fleets may be focused on an electric transportation system for the future, the environment cannot afford for them to lose sight of the present. To learn more about making the simple switch to biodiesel, contact us today. The environment will thank you.
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