Alternative-fuels researchers awarded $2.7 million by California Energy Commission

The UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) will receive a two-year, $2.77 million grant from the California Energy Commission to research the value, benefits and drawbacks of all types of alternative transportation fuels and fuel uses in California. The Energy Commission approved the grant at its June 13, 2012 meeting in Sacramento.

The grant will support teams of research leaders and graduate students in the Institute’s NextSTEPS consortium as they complete eight complex research tasks.

NextSTEPS is studying transitions to a sustainable transportation energy future, gaining unique insight from its multidisciplinary approach, and disseminating that knowledge to decision-makers in the private sector and governmental agencies so that they can make informed technology, investment and policy choices. It is the successor to the ITS-Davis research program named STEPS, for Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways.

“This grant will allow us to conduct a wide assessment of the major alternative-fuel transitions in California, and enable us to inform the CEC in its investment decision-making,” said NextSTEPS Program Director Joan Ogden, a UC Davis professor of environmental science and policy. “We look forward to helping the CEC maximize the reduction of greenhouse gases in California.”

NextSTEPS brings together research from diverse academic disciplines, including vehicle engineering and design, systems analysis and operations, chemical and mechanical engineering, lifecycle cost and emissions analyses, market and consumer research, sociology and anthropology, economics and business strategy, and policy analysis.

Under this new contract, the UC Davis team will draw on those diverse disciplines to develop robust scenarios for the Energy Commission. For example, using data from its world-leading research on consumer response to alternative-fuel vehicles, researchers can inform market-growth expectations and strategies, and offer insight on the role of fueling infrastructure in driving consumer adoption of alternative vehicles. The project also will provide scenarios for biofuel investments and deployment, offer advice on possible policy tools, assess low-carbon fuel options for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, assess natural gas as a transportation fuel in California, and enhance agency staff technology awareness through training workshops.

Read more

Photo: The research will be done by the Institute’s NextSTEPS consortium, directed by Joan Ogden, a UC Davis professor of environmental science and policy.