Energy Vision report analyzes non-petroleum fuel options for waste and recycling fleets
The sustainable energy NGO Energy Vision has published The Refuse Revolution, its report on alternative fuels and new vehicle technologies for waste and recycling collection truck fleets. The publication assesses biodiesel and renewable diesel, fossil and renewable natural gas, hybrid technologies, battery electric vehicles (BEVs), DME, and hydrogen for cost, performance, and climate and health impacts.
The report compares "lifecycle" GHG emissions of each option, covering fuel production, transport and use. It finds that the claim of BEV trucks being zero-emission isn't accurate. The heavy weight of their batteries causes them to stir up road dust and increases tire wear, generating particulate pollution that may be greater than that of diesel trucks. BEVs also have considerable lifecycle GHG emissions, since they charge their batteries on a 58 percent fossil fuel-powered electric grid.
Trucks with natural gas engines powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) fuel achieve the greatest benefits at the lowest cost, the report finds. RNG trucks rated highest for performance, cost, and cutting lifecycle GHG emissions and health-damaging pollutants. Since RNG is made from captured methane biogases emitted by decomposing organic wastes, scaling up its production could cut overall U.S. methane emissions by 15 percent. This would take us halfway to the global goal of reducing methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, deemed essential by UN and IPCC scientists in order to avoid catastrophic climate change beyond 1.5 degrees centigrade.
"A strong, meaningful legislative agenda must include clean transportation and reducing methane emissions," said Rep. Paul D.Tonko of New York's 20th District. "This Energy Vision report shows that businesses can be resourceful in producing the low- and no-carbon fuels and technologies essential for a more fair, just, and sustainable economy."
"We need to prioritize clean energy strategies that reduce methane," said Energy Vision's founder Joanna Underwood. "Fleet managers are not making procurement decisions in a vacuum; they're connected to a complex web of global climate and environmental issues. The Refuse Revolution is a resource to help navigate it, and choose the options that will do the most good."