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Energy Savings, Climate Benefits of Clean Diesel Technology


The increasing market acceptance of advanced clean diesel technology in passenger vehicles and heavy duty trucks will play a major role in helping California achieve future fuel savings and climate objectives, according to new research presented by the Diesel Technology Forum to the California Energy Commission.

“As California policymakers evaluate future transportation fuels and technologies, this new research underscores the key role for clean diesel technology in saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions in both passenger cars and heavy duty applications,” Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum told members of the commission. “The 

importance of diesel technology to meeting California’s climate and
clean air goals is made possible by the inherent and proven energy efficiency of diesel, the transformation
to clean diesel fuel and engine technology, and the significant penetration of diesel in key sectors of California’s economy.”

Schaeffer made his comments during a presentation to the California Energy Commission during the Joint Lead Commissioner Workshop on Transportation Energy Scenarios to discuss potential growth projections for alternative transportation fuels, vehicles and infrastructure and factors related to growth. The workshop was designed to outline the expected contribution of biofuels, electric transportation, natural gas, hydrogen and other options to California’s transportation sector. DTF’s presentation was based on research it commissioned by the Martec Group in June 2013.

“Significant fuel savings and clean air benefits are accruing from the use of new clean diesel engines in passenger vehicles, and from 2005-2012 have saved California 2.5 million barrels of oil and 0.7 million tonnes of CO2,” Schaeffer said. “Using conservative estimates of future market penetration, the increasing choice of clean diesel instead of gasoline for use in passenger cars, pick-up trucks and SUVs in California will displace 165 to 240 million gal. of gasoline (2013-2020).

“There’s no surprise that clean diesel holds great promise for California in the future, since California is the
number-one state today overall in diesel car and pick-up truck registrations. And from 2010-2012, California was the number-one state with the fastest growth in registrations of new diesel cars and SUVs,” Schaeffer said.

Major fuel savings and CO2 reduction benefits also come from the increasing use of new generation diesel engines used in heavy-duty commercial trucks, also according to the new Diesel Technology Forum research. California has the third highest registration (20 percent) of the new generation (2007 and later) clean diesel commercial trucks (Class 3-8).

Since 2000, heavy-duty diesel trucks have been transformed to a near zero-emissions state, with over 98 percent reductions in emissions of particulate matter (2007) and beginning in 2010, near-zero emissions of nitrogen oxides. The newest clean diesel heavy-duty trucks introduced from 2010-2012 make up 11 percent of all registrations and are achieving significant reductions in fuel use of 3-4 percent conservatively, resulting in savings of as much as 560 million gal.­­ of fuel, or 13.3 million barrels of oil and 5.7 million tons of CO2 on a nationwide basis.

“The real-world 3-4 percent fuel savings of new 2010 and later MY clean diesel heavy-duty trucks is significant for several reasons, because of the energy intensity of heavy duty vehicles and because diesel engines are the technology of choice for over 90 percent of commercial trucks,” Schaeffer said. “Achieving these present gains in fuel efficiency while maintaining near-zero emissions is particularly notable, because these are competing forces. Heavy-duty truck and engine makers are also working toward meeting first-ever GHG and fuel economy mandates from EPA and NHTSA beginning in 2014 and in 2018.”