The electric vehicle (EV) market today consists of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric (BEV) models. PHEVs have a combined battery and gasoline-powered engine, and unlike BEVs that operate by battery-only, PHEVs are not compatible with direct current (DC) fast-charging equipment.
For convenience retailers, the future of electrification is one that ensures any government policy maintains a level playing field, promotes competition and encourages private sector investment. Policies should develop models to sell charging. Demand charges have become stumbling blocks in the push for fast chargers. Some state public utility commissions (e.g. California, Florida, New York) are allowing investor owned utilities to raise the electricity bills of their ratepayers (rate base) to pay for EV charging infrastructure. Also, about 17 states do not allow retailers to resell electricity for EV charging unless they are regulated like an electric utility.
Despite current market uncertainty on a uniform path forward for retailers, many are actively supporting the deployment of EV charging infrastructure to prepare for the future of electrification.
Extensive research from the Fuels Institute can help convenience retailers plan for EV charging infrastructure, undertand consumer behavior and make strategic decisions about whether to invest in charging infrastructure. View and download all EV-releated research from the Fuels Institute at www.fuelsinstitute.org/research.
Biofuels can provide opportunities for convenience retailers to diversify their retail fuel offer and develop an environmentally responsible reputation for their brand. To sell biofuels, retailers should evaluate effective retail strategies, consider equipment compatibility and configurations, and explore the economics associated with retailing biofuel blends.
- Ethanol: Today, nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. is blended with roughly 10% ethanol (E10), and more retailers are selling E15 (roughly 15% ethanol, 85% gasoline). E15 was approved for use in model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs), and all flex-fuel vehicles by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2012. These vehicles make up more than 80% of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today.
- Biomass-based diesel: Biomass-based diesel (BBD) is commonly produced in one of two forms by U.S. producers: biodiesel and renewable diesel. According to the Fuels Institute's "Biomass-Based Diesel: A Market and Performance Analysis" report, biodiesel is the more developed of the two biofuel types, predating even the invention of the diesel fuel engine. Renewable diesel has experienced very rapid growth over the last decade, however, and is on pace to pass biodiesel production in the U.S. within the next five years.
Natural gas is a fossil energy source that formed deep beneath the earth's surface. Natural gas contains many different compounds, with methane as the largest component, a compound with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4). Most of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced in the United States.
The EIA notes that burning natural gas for energy results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) than burning coal or petroleum products to produce an equal amount of energy. The clean burning properties of natural gas have contributed to increased natural gas use for electricity generation and as a transportation fuel for fleet vehicles in the United States.
Compressed natural gas (CNG) can be used to power vehicles ranging from compact sedans to semi-trucks. According to NGV America, natural gas vehicles are 90% cleaner than the EPA’s current NOx standard and emit up to 21% fewer GHG emissions than comparable gas and diesel vehicles. When fueling with renewable natural gas, GHG emissions can be reduced up to 382%.
In 2003, President George W. Bush kick-started U.S. investment in hydrogen fuel technology, offering $1.2 billion toward research funding. That came more than four years after the California Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission, along with automakers and oil companies, formed the California Fuel Cell Partnership to “demonstrate and promote the potential for electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.” Since then, California has taken the lead among states in advancing the commercialization efforts of hydrogen fuel cells, committing to 100 hydrogen stations and providing generous credits for those who invest in the technology. (nacsmagazine.com)
Hydrogen fuel’s success as an alternative fuel largely depends on commitments from energy providers. Shell, for example, is focusing on the development of a hydrogen infrastructure in the United States and abroad. In California, Shell has nine hydrogen refueling stations. Shell recently began a feasibility study called the NortH2 project, which will be the largest green hydrogen project in the world. The new plant will be powered by an offshore wind farm and if successful, the project could expand to 10 gigawatts of offshore wind dedicated to green hydrogen production by the year 2040.