Floyd, J., Stewart, C., Turner, C., and Zubevich, K., 2004, Alternative Transport Fuels and Technologies: Options for the Next Ten Years, report for EPA Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. (Appendices here)

Executive Summary

Action to address the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change is increasing at the global, national and local levels. In Victoria, a broad-based response is being implemented under the Victorian Greenhouse Strategy (VGS). The VGS recognises that transport is a significant and growing contributor to the State’s emissions. In 1999, transport sources accounted for 16% of Victoria’s total greenhouse gas emissions. By far the most significant component of these emissions comes from road transport.

This study, which has been commissioned by EPA Victoria as part of Action 7.5 (Determining Victoria’s role in promoting the use of alternative fuels and technologies), aims to identify the transport fuels and vehicle technologies which should be promoted in Victoria – over the next ten years – in terms of their capacity to contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and emissions of substances impacting on air quality. The results of the study will assist in the determination of the most appropriate role for the Victorian Government in the promotion of the preferred fuels and technologies.

In considering road transport propulsion technology and fuel options, this study addresses a broader range of assessment variables than any other study publicly available in Australia. The economic, technical, social, environmental and political appropriateness of different alternative transport fuels and technologies (ATFT) is considered. Scenario development (a foresight methodology) is used to assist in the creation of a range of viable forward views for the Victorian ATFT policy context over the next ten years.

The analysis shows that there is no magic bullet. Despite significant media attention, hydrogen technology is considered unattractive over the next ten years – both for economic and environmental reasons. Instead, hybrid technologies appear more to be the most attractive option – particularly hybrid petrol. Advanced LPG and hybrid LPG also appears preferable to conventional petrol technologies in the passenger motor vehicle class. Advanced diesel and hybrid diesel technologies also show promise, particularly for heavy vehicles already using petroleum diesel. In the case of passenger motor vehicles, diesel, in both its conventional and hybrid manifestations, must address particulate matter emissions much higher than the present fleet average if it is to offer large-scale benefits. Potential for such improvement may exist in the form of tailpipe filtering developments, however it is far from certain that real reductions will be delivered. With today’s technology, a large shift to diesel passenger motor vehicles would result in adverse air quality impacts and associated increase in health risks. CNG and Hybrid CNG are also preferable in heavy vehicles – although fuel tank size requirements present some challenges.

In the absence of any significant incentives or encouragement, uptake of these new technologies is expected to be minimal. Perhaps the only exception is the uptake of hybrid petrol vehicles by concerned individuals and organisations keen to portray a ‘sustainable’ image. In order to encourage wider uptake of preferred ATFT, the Victorian Government might consider a range of measures such as:

  • Modifying Government fleet policies to drive significant adoption of hybrid petrol-electric and LPG vehicles;
  • Aligning registration fees with vehicle type (providing incentives for using lower emission vehicles); and,
  • Lobbying the Federal Government to encourage ATFT uptake by adjusting fuel quality/vehicle emission standards, fuel taxation levels, importation tariffs and sales tax.

As a risk management measure, the Victorian Government might also consider scenarios arising from increased public concern over environmental impacts, and increased oil price volatility. Respectively, these scenarios will place increased importance on emission control measures, and alternatives to petroleum based fuels. Under these scenarios, more rapid transitions to hybrid technologies, and LGP / CNG technologies respectively, will be required – and the Government’s role in supporting these transitions will become even more important.

When viewed in a broader context, even a full transition to ATFT over the next ten years is unlikely to result in a significant reduction in emission levels as compared with today. The promotion of ATFT should therefore be seen as necessary, but not sufficient, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Only in conjunction with a range of other measures – including demand management (for transportation and stationary energy) and migration to alternative forms of transport (including public transport, walking and cycling) – will the promotion of ATFT provide meaningful emission reductions. Acting alone, Victoria is not capable of achieving emission reductions of significance on a global scale. However, since Victoria is a progressive state in one of the world’s most advanced nations, the Victorian Government has an essential leadership role to play on this vital issue. This leadership will not only promote greater awareness of environmental issues with consumers and local businesses, but also send an important message to local industry, other State Governments, the Federal Government, and other governments around the world.

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