FBI Prefers EV Over Hydrogen To ‘Decarbonize’ The US In The Future

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  • Four government agencies—the Department of Energy and Transportation, plus HUD and the EPA—said last fall that they would work together to create cleaner, more accessible transportation across the nation by 2050. This week, they released the US National Blueprint for Decarbonization of Transport, with details on how this will happen.
  • Redesigned cities and communities and better public transportation are part of the plan, but the biggest emission reductions will come from cleaning up vehicle fleets.
  • These agencies see three major fossil fuel alternatives for our future—electricity, hydrogen, and sustainable biofuels—but they have very different use cases.

Last fall, the Departments of Energy, Transport, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they would work together to create a “clean, safe, accessible, fair, and carbon-free transportation system for all.” This week, the agency was released the blueprints they promised which puts some detail on the bones.

Called the US National Blueprint to Decarbonize Transportation, the first document of its kind envisions three familiar technological solutions for net-zero travel by 2050: batteries, hydrogen and sustainable liquid fuels. It’s how the blueprint predicts these three technologies will be used that will be most exciting, if not exactly surprising, to drivers. The technology with the “greatest long-term opportunity” for decarbonizing light vehicles, for example, is battery power. For long-haul heavy trucks, hydrogen tops the list. And sustainable liquid fuels are probably the best for ships and planes.

More interesting, perhaps, is that the agency sees no place for hydrogen in its light vehicle fleet. While hydrogen is thought to have limited opportunities to green short-haul heavy trucks and off-road vehicles, chart blueprints do not support even a hint of optimism for passenger cars. Despite the fact that the blueprint lists building clean hydrogen infrastructure as one of the research priorities for the country, it is unlikely that it will help clean up our daily drivers.

electric vehicles and renewable hydrogen fueling stations

US Department of Energy

Changing City Views?

The 88-page National Blueprint goes beyond just types of energy, including rethinking how local communities are structured so that “essential work, shopping, school, entertainment, and service centers are strategically located near where people live. Such communities will reduce the amount of time spent people spend commuting, among other benefits. Making public transport and rail more reliable and affordable is also in the plans, but the biggest increase in carbon reduction will come in cleaning up the transport options themselves.”

With the completion of the second major step in decarbonization plans over the past decades, the four agencies also provided a general outline of the milestones planned for the coming decades as the US moves to a net-zero economy. Between now and 2030, research and investment to support deployment. In the 2030s, clean transport solutions will advance, and in the 2040s, we will “Complete the Transition”. That’s the plan.

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