Highlights: April 2013

Researchers Complete Second Status Review of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

Researchers Complete Second Status Review of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

April 24, 2013

UC Davis researchers have released the second in a series of periodic progress reports on California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). “Status Review of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Spring 2013” is authored by ITS-Davis research engineer Sonia Yeh, assistant project scientist Julie Witcover, and Transportation Technology and Policy Ph.D. student Jeff Kessler. The work is funded through a California Air Resources Board (ARB) research contract.

Adopted by ARB in 2009, the LCFS requires transportation fuel providers such as oil companies and refiners to gradually reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel by at least 10 percent by 2020. The state began implementing the rule in 2011.

Like the first status review, published in November 2012, this data-rich report provides an update on LCFS compliance and markets, analyzes trends, identifies potential challenges and addresses a special topic. This report’s special topic is issues that affect compliance.

The report finds that fuel providers have been lowering the carbon intensity of fuels used in California. It also finds that, through December 2012, regulated industries accumulated LCFS credits that total about half their compliance obligation in 2013.

The exercise illustrates how the status quo relates to requirements for increased stringency in upcoming years, and is not meant to predict or project how the next few years will play out, the report indicates.

To comply in the future, industry will need to continue reducing the carbon intensity of fuels. Strategies include continued reductions in carbon intensity values of existing biofuels, greater use of low carbon intensity fuels such as liquid and gaseous biofuels made from wastes, new investments in cellulosic biofuels, and increased use of natural gas in trucks and buses, electricity in plug-in cars, and hydrogen in fuel cell vehicles.

To read the full report, visit: http://www.its.ucdavis.edu/?page_id=10063&pub_id=1861

To read the April 30 UC Davis news story, visit: http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10562 

To read a related May 8 editorial in the journal Nature, visit: http://www.nature.com/news/the-cleaner-state-1.12944

Photo: The study found that, of net LCFS credits in 2012, 12% were from natural gas and bio-based gases. Photo credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock