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PERC study analyzes carbon footprint of propane-fueled vehicles

March 17, 2021 By    

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) released a study analyzing the carbon footprint of medium- and heavy-duty (MD-HD) engine vehicles powered by propane and electricity.

The analysis, “Decarbonization of MD-HD Vehicles with Propane,” says that propane-fueled MD-HD internal combustion engine vehicles provide a lower carbon footprint solution in 38 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., when compared to MD-HD electric vehicles charged using the electrical grid.

The study also reveals that MD-HD vehicles powered by renewable propane provide a lower carbon footprint solution in every U.S. state except Vermont, where electricity is generated by and imported from Canadian hydroelectric power plants, according to PERC.

In addition, the analysis shows that decarbonization can be accelerated by adopting propane as the fuel of choice for MD-HD vehicles. The conclusion is supported by a life-cycle analysis of CO2eq (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions between electric and propane-fueled vehicles across the U.S. using California Air Resources Board carbon intensity values along with a powertrain efficiency analysis.

“It’s often assumed that full electrification of all sectors will lead to their full decarbonization, but little thought on how electricity is currently generated, stored, transmitted and consumed has been considered,” says Gokul Vishwanathan, author of the report and PERC’s director of research and sustainability. “While a fully renewable-based electric grid is not feasible anytime soon, propane is an effective solution today for accelerating decarbonization of transportation and other energy sectors.”

The analysis presented the following decarbonization recommendations:

  • All 50 states should aggressively invest resources in incentivizing renewable fuels.
  • Federal government agencies, particularly the Department of Energy, should aggressively invest in various parallel pathways for renewable and synthetic fuel production to ensure supply.
  • The U.S. should aggressively pursue immediately available decarbonization efforts using alternative fuels such as propane and dimethyl ether rather than wait on grid infrastructure improvements that are decades away from realization.

Featured image: Yuliia/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

About the Author:

Carly McFadden is associate editor at LP Gas Magazine. She is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and a native of Cleveland, Ohio. McFadden can be reached at cmcfadden@northcoastmedia.net.

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