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Federal Grants Fund Green Tech Despite Uncertain Future

March 7, 2017

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Photo: TransPower
Photo: TransPower

While U.S. Department of Energy grants are still funding electric vehicle and alternative fuel technologies, it is uncertain how the Trump administration could affect this funding in the future, according to ACT Research’s North American On-Highway Commercial Vehicle Engine Outlook.

According to DOE, five firms will split $18 million in grants to advance plug-in electric technology for cars and heavy-duty vehicles. The EPA has also approved a pathway for isobutanol to be used as an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard Program.

Isobutanol uses starch from feed corn to produce alcohol and when used along with fossil fuels, the biofuel could achieve a 50% or greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This would qualify it for the advanced D5 Renewable Identification Number.

These projects are aimed at advancing the development of green technologies while also reducing engine emissions.

"The money is meant to improve energy security, reduce emissions, and enhance local and regional economies, according to information released on December 22," said Tom Rhein, president of Rhein Associates. "Funding from the department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is directed to projects that advance development and deployment of efficient and renewable technologies, as well as market-based innovations to enhance energy security."

However, given the Trump administration’s stance on reducing regulations, particularly in the energy sector, some of the latest advancements pushed forward by the Obama administration’s GHG Phase 2 Rule may be in limbo. Those rules took effect on Dec. 17, 2016 and will determine emissions and fuel efficiency standards through 2027. Fleets and manufacturers will have to adjust in the long term if they are rolled back, according to ACT Research.

“We know the concerns and regulations from our last engine outlook article, but we don't know the White House factor. It is obvious that the new administration opposes regulations that will add costs at the expense of jobs, but what does this mean for GHG2?” ACT stated in its Engine Outlook report.

Many truck and engine manufacturers are global companies and if other nations move forward with stricter emissions standards, a rollback in the U.S. could complicate these strategies. Ultimately, until the Trump administration makes a concrete decision on the matter, fleets and manufacturers must wait and see before making long-term plans.

“If the U.S. cancels or delays GHG2, the name of the game in the U.S. market continues to be price and cost. Much will be decided in the next couple of months. We will be surprised to see GHG2 stand as is, expecting a revised regulation with a delayed enactment schedule,” ACT Research stated in the report.

The full ACT Research report is available online

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