April 5, 2012

Westport Participates in National Petroleum Council Study

In June 2010, Westport was asked by The National Petroleum Council (NPC) to participate in a national transportation energy study.  Dr. Steven Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy had asked the NPC to identify what mix of alternative fuels and vehicles could be possible in 2050 to shift the transportation sector towards better reliability, security, independence and lower carbon, along with a 50 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction.  

The NPC is a U.S. federal advisory committee established in 1946 to advise the Secretary of Energy on oil and gas related matters. Since its formation in 1946, the Council has prepared over 200 reports, which deal with virtually every aspect of oil and gas operations.

More than 400 people representing all areas of industry and government have participated in the study to date. Mike Gallagher (Westport Senior Advisor and former President of Westport) recruited and chaired a 60-person natural gas team with representatives from OEMs, major oil and gas companies, fuel supply/demand, academia and non-governmental organizations, and led the draft of a comprehensive chapter addressing the natural gas fuel supply chain and engines/vehicles. Mike sees Westport participation in the study as an excellent opportunity to influence the thinking and policy of the US Administration on transportation alternative fuels and natural gas. An added benefit: “Westport is also gaining visibility with a large array of major oil companies, and other key stakeholders in the US energy system,” he says.

In addition to her role at Westport, Karen Hamberg (Westport Vice President of Sustainable Energy Futures) was seconded to the study as a core member of four teams: i) natural gas, ii) GHG emission reductions, iii) heavy duty economics, and iv) report integration. As the study moves toward completion, she is heavily involved in the report editing team to finalize the remaining chapters.

“The study is greatly raising understanding and credibility of the natural gas transportation industry among a wide array of thought leaders in government, industry, and academia,” Karen says. “There is currently a gap in the literature specific to natural gas for transportation.  The quantitative and analytical phase of the study evaluates how the different fuels and vehicle technology streams would compete and integrate under a range of economic scenarios.  Significant market shares for LD and HD vehicles will further support the economic competitiveness and environmental performance of natural gas vehicles.”

The study is grounded in technology and economics, and has been separated into two phases. In the first phase, each of the five fuel teams (natural gas, electricity, biofuels, hydrogen and liquid hydrocarbons) determined what contribution that particular fuel or vehicle technology could make to the greenhouse gas emissions targets and what economic, technical or regulatory barriers need to be overcome in order to reach those targets.  Phase two was a lengthy analytical process to evaluate how different fuels and technologies would compete and integrate under differing economic scenarios. This resulted in detailed projections of the adoption of new technologies in the transport sector.

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