Scotland: Low Carbon Transportation

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Written for the Coursera (MOOC) Class – Turn Down the Heat, Why a 4oC Warmer World Must be Avoided‘ by the World Bank Group (May 2015).

1.0  Energy and Transportation

As part of the European Union, Scotland (UK Devolved Government) has agreed to a set of ambitious targets to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions in line with UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol and extended targets.

Scotland has significantly increased Renewable Energy capacity in the past decade, mainly through Wind Energy expansion.  Marine Energy (Tidal Stream and Wave) projects are being developed at the European Marine Energy Centre on the Orkney Islands, adjacent to the Pentland Firth.

Substituting energy supply at fixed locations such as homes and factories away from fossil fuel sources is progressing well.  However, the problem of displacing transport fossil fuel consumption is more challenging.

Liquid fuels such as petrol (gasoline) and diesel are well suited to powering vehicles, since they are a highly concentrated and portable form of energy.  We are heavily reliant on petroleum fuels for personal and public transportation as well as for freight.

Transforming the transport system away from fossil fuel reliance is the most difficult element in Scotland’s transition to a sustainable low-carbon society.

2.0  Scotland Energy Statistics

Scotland’s energy consumption has reduced over the past decade, due to energy efficiency measures and the global economic downturn.

CHART_Scot_Total Final Energy Cons by SECTOR 2005-2012

All sectors, Domestic (Residential), Industry (and Commerce) and Transport, have reduced energy consumption. [2.1]

CHART_Scot_Total Final Energy Cons 2005-2012

Petroleum is the single largest final energy fuel consumed.  Gas consumption remains lower, even when this ‘final energy’ quantity is added to the quantity of gas used in electricity generation.  Gas as a direct ‘final energy’ is used in direct heating of buildings and in non-generation industrial processes. [2.1]

CHART_Scot_Electricity Gen and Cons 2004-2013

Electricity generation in Scotland has increased with exported power, with consumption falling. [2.2]

CHART_Scot_Electricity Gen and Cons by FUEL 2004-2013

Fossil fuel (Coal and Gas) generation has fallen.  Nuclear generation is stable in recent years.  Renewable electricity has increased dramatically. [2.2]

CHART_Scot_Renew Energy Production 2004-2013

Scotland has a tradition of small scale hydro electricity production which varies with rainfall.  Wind energy has seen a dramatic (1300%) increase between 2004 and 2013, and now accounts for 34% of consumption. [2.3]

This expansion is still progressing with 7.2 GW installed and a further 12.6 GW in planning or construction. [2.4]   Over the next few years, renewable energy could account for 90% of electricity consumption.

CHART_Scot Renew Cap PLANNING 2014

3.0  Scotland CO2 Emissions

CHART_Scot_CO2 Emissions inc Imports 1998-2012

The dominant greenhouse gas CO2 is measured both from direct emissions in Scotland’s production (for local consumption) and embedded CO2 from imported goods. [3.1]

CHART_Scot_CO2 Emissions Transport 1990-2012

Although the overall trend in CO2 emissions is falling (some due to economic downturn), transportation emissions are fairly static.  [3.1]

CHART_LINE_Scot_CO2 Emissions Transport 1990-2011

The vast majority of transport sector emissions are from road travel. [3.2]

CHART_LINE_Scot_CO2 Emissions Road Transport 1990-2011

Passenger cars (combined with light-duty vehicles) account for the vast majority of emissions, and are representative of single occupancy mode journeys.  This is the most inefficient form of transportation. [3.3]

PIE_Scot Transp CO2 2011

4.0  Road Transport Fleet

CHART_Scot_Road Vehicles 1993-2013

The size of the Scottish road vehicle fleet has steadily increased from the early 1990’s, with a flattening-off from 2008. [4.1]

PIE_Scot Road Fleet 2013

The vast majority of road vehicles in Scotland are cars and small vans (private and light goods).

CHART_Scot_Petroleum Cons SECTOR 2005-2012

Approximately 58% of petroleum is consumed by road transportation and only 1% by the rail network in Scotland. [2.1]

5.0  Transport Scotland (Scottish Government)  

The Scottish government transport department is investing time consulting with the community and transportation stakeholders to find a solution in decarbonising the transport network.

The biggest transportation source of CO2 emissions is the petroleum fuelled road network.

The vision of the future for a low-carbon road system is set out in ‘Switched On Scotland: A Roadmap to Widespread Adoption of Plug-in Vehicles’. [5.1]

Since cities are the source of 80% of worldwide GHG emissions, with high population densities, it makes sense to tackle air pollution from city vehicles as a priority. [5.1]

Electrified mass transit systems such as trams, light railways, underground rail, and electric busses are economically feasible in urban areas.  Edinburgh (capital city) opened a new tram network in 2014. [5.2]

Plan to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from road vehicles by 2050:

  • Milestone Target: 50% zero-emission vehicles by 2030
  • Milestone Target: 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2050

CHART_Uptake of EVs 2050

A report by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) set out UK targets for electric vehicle uptake in 2013. [5.3]


Barriers to creation of Electric Vehicle Network:

  • High cost of Electric Vehicles (relative to conventional)
  • Limited EV Range
  • Availability of Recharge Infrastructure
  • Battery Life
  • Battery Disposal
  • Increased Electricity Demand

Currently there is a UK Government scheme in place to offset the high cost of new EVs.  This plug-in car grant scheme offers 25% (£5,000 max) for cars, and 20% (£8,000 max) vans. [5.3]

As EV sales develop and the technology matures, prices should fall to the level of conventional vehicles.

Similarly, recharge point infrastructure is expected to grow with vehicle sales.  Government support is helping roll out facilities to support early adopters.

Battery range and life are being developed to improve both aspects, with year on year improvements in the technology.  The materials contained in the battery can be recycled at the end of life. [5.4]

Switching cars from petroleum to electric power will put extra demands on the electricity network.  However, with expansion of renewable energy and grid storage, there should be sufficient capacity.

Since most of the battery charging will take place through the night, this will level out demand, reducing the need for energy storage capacity.  In some scenarios with smart grids, the network of plugged-in vehicles can act as a storage buffer for a limited portion of charge. [5.5]

Although the Scottish government is opposed to replacing the two current nuclear power stations in Scotland, as they are decommissioned in the next decade, this option may be revisited if electric grid generation capacity is too low. [5.6]

6.0  Future Low-Carbon Society

If the petroleum road vehicle network can be replaced satisfactorily by electric vehicles on an expanded grid, I am confident that the other carbon intensive elements of our economy can be neutralised.

Developments on all energy fronts over the next few decades will determine whether we can as a global community avert the worst effects of global warming and avoid dangerous levels of  climate change.

Let’s stay well below 4oC and keep the Heat Turned Down.


[2.1] UK Gov, Sub-national total final energy consumption statistics: 2005 – 2012 

[2.2] UK Gov, Electricity generation and supply figures for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, 2004 to 2013 

[2.3] Scot Gov, Energy in Scotland Fact Sheet 2015 

[2.4] Scot Gov, Energy Statistics for Scotland March 2015, Scottish Government 

[3.1] Scot Gov, Scotland’s Carbon Footprint 1998-2012. Data Tables and Charts [XLSX, 3796.0 kb: 13 Apr 2015]

[3.2] Scot Gov, Scotland’s Carbon Footprint 1998 – 2012, Scottish Government 

[3.3] UK Gov, Greenhouse Gas Inventories Eng Scot Wales N Ire 1990 – 2012 

[4.1] Scot Gov, Transport Scotland, Scottish Transport Statistics No 31: 2012 Edition 

[5.1] Scot Gov, Transport Scotland, Switched On Scotland: A Roadmap to Widespread Adoption of Plug-in Vehicles 

[5.2] Edinburgh City, The Tram Project 

[5.3] Royal Automobile Club, Powering Ahead – The Future of Low-Carbon Cars and Fuels 

[5.4] Scientific American, When an Electric Car Dies, What Will Happen to the Battery?  

[5.5] SmartGrid.Gov, Enabling a Charging Infrastructure for PEVs 

[5.6] The Guardian, Scottish government signals end to nuclear power opposition

Scotland Energy Report

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Written for Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Global Sustainable Energy, Past, Present and Future‘ by the University of Florida (June 2013).

1.0   Scotland Introduction

Scotland is country in the United Kingdom, Europe.  It is primarily governed by the UK government in Westminster, London, and on devolved matters by the Scottish government in Holyrood, Edinburgh.  An independence referendum is scheduled for 2014, and will determine whether Scotland remains part of the UK or returns to Independence.

Scotland has a population of 5.3 million and a land area of 78,387 km2.  The capital city is Edinburgh (population 495,360) and Glasgow (population 598,830) is its largest city.  The lowland central belt (including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee) accounts for 70% of the population.  Aberdeen (population 222,800) and Inverness (population 57,960) are two notable cities outside the central belt.  The sparsely populated Highland region has one of the lowest population densities in Europe (population 232,100 / 26,484 km2) 8.4 people per km2.

1.1  Scotland’s Current Energy Mix 

Over the past eight years, where data is available (2004-2011), Scotland has generated on average 50 TWh of electricity annually.  The bulk of which has come from Nuclear Energy: Torness (1.4 GW) and Hunterson B (1.3 GW) stations, Coal: Longannet (2.4 GW) and Cockenzie (1.2 GW) stations and Natural Gas at the Peterhead (1.5 GW) station.

Renewable Energy has more than doubled during this period from nearly 6 TWh in 2004 to just under 14 TWh in 2011.  Of these totals, Scotland’s many Hydro stations accounts for 4.5 TWh on average, with only a small increase in installed capacity (1.3 to 1.5 GW) over the period.  The increases in Renewable Energy generation are from Wind Energy, which increased in installed capacity from 0.4 GW to 3 GW by 2011.  These figures are taken from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics.

Total Energy consumption in Scotland in 2010 was 178 TWh  (DUKES & DECC Statistics), and is broken down by fuel type:

  • Coal & Solid Fuel          (7.2%)
  • Petroleum                     (44.0%)
  • Natural Gas                   (37.4%)
  • Nuclear                          (5.4%)
  • Renewables                   (3.4%)
  • Others                            (2.7%)

TABLE_Summary Scotland Energy 2010 MULTI

Table 1.0: Energy Statistics Scotland 2010

According to the Scottish Energy Study, 2006: (91%) of Coal and other solid fuel is used for Electricity Generation, the remainder is used for domestic space heating (7%), mostly in remote rural areas, and by industry (2%).

Oil based petroleum consumption is predominantly for transportation.  The breakdown is: Transportation (77%), Domestic, mainly heating (15%), Industry (8%), Services (5%) and Electricity Generation (1%).

Natural Gas is the most economical and controllable fuel, which is available by mains supply in most urban areas.  Consumption for Domestic space heating and cooking is (40%).  It is also used for Electricity Generation (25%), for heating and process energy in Industry (21%) and Services sector heating (14%).

Nuclear Energy is 100% for Electricity Generation.

Renewable Energy sources have seen significant growth since the baseline of the 2006 study.  Almost 96% of Renewable Energy is dedicated to Electricity Generation, with a small amount of Thermal Biomass for heating.

Electricity Generation in Scotland is about 50 TWh annually and approximately 80% is for national consumption with 20% of exported to England and Northern Ireland.

Scotland Total GWh Coal Oil Gas Nuclear Renew Other
2004 49,937 13,055 1,391 10,835 18,013 5,832 811
2005 49237 12,142 1,903 9,367 18,681 6,486 659
2006 52,250 17,549 2,189 10,212 14,141 6,963 1,196
2007 48,080 13,856 1,504 10,931 12,344 8,226 1,219
2008 50,121 11,662 1,518 11,608 15,079 9,141 1,112
2009 51,170 11,964 1,294 9,370 16,681 10,755 1,105
2010 49,992 14,716 1,213 8,388 15,293 9,591 792
2011 51,223 10,779 1,156 8,052 16,892 13,728 616
Average 50,251 13,215 1,521 9,845 15,890 8,840 939

Table 1.1: Electricity Generation

CHART_Scot Elect Gen Mix 2004-2011

Figure 1.0: Electricity Generation


Electricity consumption remains fairly constant at around 50 TWh per annum.  The bulk of generation by Coal was provided by the 2.4 GW Longannet Station with the remainder intermittently supplied by the 1.2 GW Cockenzie Station (Closed in March 2013), much of Cockenzie’s electricity was exported to Northern Ireland.

Nuclear power provides an annual average base load of just under 16 TWh, from Torness (1.4 GW) and Hunterston B (1.3 GW) stations.

The Peterhead power station (1.5 GW) generates the majority of Natural Gas sourced electricity at around 10 TWh annually.  The Grangemouth petrochem complex is supplied by the 130 MW gas power station.  It provides both electricity and steam locally, as well as exporting excess electricity to the grid [1].  Permission was granted in 2011 for a 1 GW combined cycle gas power plant at the Cockenzie site, it will be equipped with carbon capture and storage technology [2].

Installed capacity for renewables sourced electricity is rapidly increasing in Scotland in line with targets set out by the Scottish government.  The graph below (figure 2.0) illustrates this expansion, with hydro capacity remaining constant and wind and wave capacity being responsible for the majority of the increase.  In actual fact, wave power remains at the prototype stage and currently contributes very little.  We can therefore attribute generation in this category mainly to wind energy.

1.2  Issues with access, Quality, and Sustainability of Current Sources. 

There are very few issues concerning access to electricity in Scotland at the moment.  Power outages are rare, except for in the most isolated and remote parts of the country, where the distribution network occasionally breaks down, usually due to extreme weather conditions.

The majority of the population are well served by electricity and natural gas utilities.   However, nearly 10% of the population, located in remote rural areas, do not have access to mains gas, being limited to using coal, wood logs and electricity as means of heating and cooking [3].

Use of Fossil Fuels such as Oil, Natural Gas and Coal is unsustainable for two main reasons.  These finite natural resources are being depleted and will eventually run out or become uneconomical to extract.  Furthermore, the burning of Fossil Fuels releases carbon into the atmosphere in the form of CO2, a greenhouse gas, which is causing Global Warming.

1.3  Reasons for Developing Renewable Energy Sources 

The Scottish government has set emissions targets, in law, to reduce production of greenhouse gasses responsible for climate change.  ‘The Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009, (using 1990 levels as the benchmark) has set a target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.  The target for 2020 is set at 42% reduction.  Another target is for 100% electricity generation capacity by renewable sources by 2020.  Although other sources like nuclear and fossil fuel supported by carbon capture and storage are retained initially as backup, the long term goal is have 100% renewable electricity.

Besides electricity generation, Scotland plans to have 30% total energy consumption, 10% transportation (EU target of 10%), 11% of heat energy, by renewable means and an overall reduction in energy consumption of 12% by 2020.  Guidance on how the country shall achieve these targets is provided in the Scottish government publication ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’, August 2011 [4].      

This report will focus on Wind Energy, and briefly look at the status of Hydro Storage and Hydrokinetic (Wave and Tidal) Energy in Scotland.

Scotland has 25% of Europe’s wave and wind power potential [5], and has a theoretical total wind energy capacity of 159 GW.

2.0  Wind and Hydrokinetic Energy Technology

2.1  Wind Energy 

The mass movement of air in our atmosphere caused by variations in atmospheric pressure, gives the air molecules kinetic energy.  Wind Energy harnesses this by transferring the air energy to angled blades on a turbine, causing it to rotate.  This rotary motion is then transferred to an electricity generator and electricity is produced.

Two main design configurations are Horizontal axis and Vertical axis.  Horizontal axis is the most prevalent design due to high efficiency and reliability.  Most commercial turbines are three-bladed and utilise a gearbox in the transfer of power to the generator.  They are designed to turn to face into the wind and most have variable blade pitch to limit high rotational speed as a protection and safety feature, deployed during high wind conditions.

Vertical axis machines have the advantage of not having to face into the wind, but suffer from lower efficiencies and because of the relatively low rotational speeds and high torques produced, they require to be more robust and higher maintenance [6].

A radical new design for a static Wind Generator has been developed by Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.  It uses a grid of wires and charged water droplets to produce electricity without noise or flicker [7].

2.2  Hydrokinetic Energy

Hydrokinetic energy is the transfer of energy from natural water motion to usually electrical energy for consumption.  Hydro energy is a well established and widely adopted form of this technology associated with rivers and dams.

The leading current marine hydrokinetic designs are described below.  Taken from the Union of Concerned Scientists website [8].

Oscillating Water Column.  ‘Waves enter and exit a partially submerged collector from below, causing the water column inside the collector to rise and fall. The changing water level acts like a piston as it drives air that is trapped in the device above the water into a turbine, producing electricity via a coupled generator.’

Point Absorber: ‘Utilizes wave energy from all directions at a single point by using the vertical motion of waves to act as a pump that pressurizes seawater or an internal fluid, which drives a turbine. This type of device has many possible configurations. One configuration, called a hose pump point absorber, consists of a surface-floating buoy anchored to the sea floor, with the turbine device as part of the vertical connection. The wave-induced vertical motion of the buoy causes the connection to expand and contract, producing the necessary pumping action. Through engineering to generate device-wave resonance, energy capture and electricity generation by point absorbers can be maximized.’

Attenuator:Also known as heave-surge devices, these long, jointed floating structures are aligned parallel to the wave direction and generate electricity by riding the waves. The device, anchored at each end, utilizes passing waves to set each section into rotational motion relative to the next segment. Their relative motion, concentrated at the joints between the segments, is used to pressurize a hydraulic piston that drives fluids through a motor, which turns the coupled generator.’

Overtopping Device:A floating reservoir, in effect, is formed as waves break over the walls of the device. The reservoir creates a head of water—a water level higher than that of the surrounding ocean surface—which generates the pressure necessary to turn a hydro turbine as the water flows out the bottom of the device, back into the sea.’

Rotating devices: ‘Capture the kinetic energy of a flow of water, such as a tidal stream, ocean current or river, as it passes across a rotor. The rotor turns with the current, creating rotational energy that is converted into electricity by a generator. Rotational devices used in water currents are conceptually akin to, and some designs look very similar to, the wind turbines already in widespread use today – a similarity that has helped to speed up the technological development of the water-based turbines. Some rotational device designs, like most wind turbines, rotate around a horizontal axis, while other, more theoretical concepts are oriented around a vertical axis, with some designs resembling egg beaters.’

2.3  The Current State of Renewable Energy Sources in Scotland 

The table below shows the level of Electrical Generation by Renewable sources in Scotland in recent years.  In the category of ‘Wind, Wave and Solar’ energy, wind accounts for almost all electricity generation.

TABLE_Scot Renewable Elect Sources 2004-2011

Table 2.0:  Renewable Electricity Sources, GWh (inc Wind Wave & Solar)

CHART_Scot Renew Installed Cap 2004-2011

Figure 2.0: Electricity Generation by Renewables, Installed Capacity MW (UKgov DECC Statistics)

2.4  Wind Energy in Scotland

Scotland reputedly has 25% of Europe’s wave and wind power potential [9] , and has a theoretical total wind energy capacity of 159 GW.

There are currently two offshore and more than 100 onshore windfarms operating in Scotland. In addition to this, another 200 are either under construction, have planning permission or are in planning [10].

The Whitelee wind farm, near Glasgow is the largest onshore wind farm in Europe.  Completed in 2009, it operates 140 turbines each rated at 2.3 MW, giving it a total installed capacity is 322 MW.  A 75 turbine extension to the facility is due for completion in June 2013, and will increase capacity to 539 MW.  The total project cost was £300 million, or around £0.56 million per megawatt [11].

2.5  Hydrokinetic Energy in Scotland 

Scotland is host to the European Marine Energy Centre, located on the Orkney Islands, off the north coast.  It opened in 2003 and is the only centre of its kind in the world for both wave and tidal energy testing.  The centre is an internationally acknowledged leader in marine energy and assists in the development of industry standards and guidelines.

Tidal energy projects at the EMEC include:

  • Andritz Hydro Hammerfest (HS1000) 1 MW
  • Atlantis Resources Corporation (AR1000) 1 MW
  • Bluewater Energy Services (BlueTEC)
  • Kawasaki Heavy Industries (sea-bed mounted horizontal axis) 1 MW,
  • Open Hydro (turbine) 250 kW
  • Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd (SR250, SR2000) 250 kW & 2 MW,
  • Tidal Generation Ltd (Deepgen) 500 kW,
  • Voith Hydro (HyTide) 1 MW.

Wave energy projects at the EMEC include:


2.6  What additions are required over the next 10 years 

The Scottish government target of generating 100% of national electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 appears to be very achievable.  The two pronged approach of reducing consumption and increasing renewable capacity is already having the desired affect.

In the 2010 Scottish government publication ‘Conserve and Save: The Energy Efficiency Action Plan’ [12], provision is made to encourage public participation in the broad objective to reduce energy consumption.  Resources are provided to better educate the general public on energy conservation and climate change matters, as well as provision of financial aid to improve domestic energy efficiency, by increasing home insulation for example.

Action 2.1 Within available resources, we will continue to provide ongoing support and financial assistance for energy efficiency in existing housing, levering investment from energy companies and private householders wherever appropriate.’

Scotland is a net exporter of electricity, to neighbouring England and Northern Ireland.  In recent years the trends, shown in the graph below, are for reduced national consumption and increased exports.

The 2011 installed onshore wind generation of 2.4 GW is soon to be augmented by a further 1 GW under construction (added to 2014 total), 2 GW approved for construction (added to 2016 total), 3.5 GW currently in planning (added to 2018 total)and 3.9 GW at the pre-planning stage (added to 2020 total).  The current known potential of 12.8 GW can be included for the short term [13].

According to Scottish Renewables, 10 GW has been identified for short term offshore wind development in the Forth and Moray Firth areas [14].  I have phased in the offshore capacity to 2020 at I GW per year and at 2 GW per year thereafter, since once these units are developed and proven more rapid development is likely.

The Crown Estates and Scottish Government are supporting a £4 billion project to build Tidal power generators around Orkney and the Pentland Firth with an estimated 1.4 GW of power  I have included tidal Hydrokinetic energy at the conservative rate of 0.25 GW per year in my projections [15].

CHART_Scotland Onshore Wind Planning 2011

Figure 2.1: Scotland Onshore Wind  (SCOTgov Statistics)

There are also great opportunities currently being reviewed in offshore wind energy.  This is both a more technically challenging and resource rich sector.  Currently in Scotland there are two offshore wind developments: the 5 MW Beatrice demonstrator project and the 180MW Robin Rigg installation.

The Scottish government initiative ‘Blue Seas – Green Energy A Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy’, March 2011, has identified 5 GW of development in six areas which exhibit favourable potential [16].

In addition to this, the ‘Sectoral Marine Plan’ has identified 25 areas for offshore wind development.  Estimates of Scottish total offshore wind energy potential are in the region of 206 GW.  For projections, a conservative annual increase in capacity of 0.25 GW has been included.

In support of development on the offshore field,  three major turbine manufacturers are to establish facilities in Scotland: Doosan Power Systems, Gamesa, and Mitsubishi Power Systems.

2.7  The 2020 Goal

In line with the Scottish Government targets to reduce consumption and increase renewable energy capacity:

  • 30% of Total Scottish Energy Consumption from Renewable Sources
  • 100% of Electricity Consumption from Renewable Energy
  • 10% of Transport powered by Renewable Energy
  • 11% of Heating Energy by Renewable Sources
  • 12% Reduction in Total Energy Consumption

The rapid expansion of Wind Energy capacity and potential of Marine Hydrokinetic Energy currently being developed at the European Marine Energy Centre, achieving these targets is highly probable.

2.8  Why the Wind and Wave Energy is Appropriate for Scotland 

Scotland has great potential for development of Wind and Wave Energy, with 25% of Europe’s resource total.  It has almost 10,000 km of coastline, open to Atlantic and North Sea energy.

The availability of these resources in Scotland made it the ideal site for the European Marine Energy Centre, which opened on Orkney in 2003 [17].

3.0  Timeframe for Completion

3.1  Reduction in Electricity Consumption (Existing Uses) 

Energy consumption per capita in Scotland is higher than in the rest of the UK.  Historically this was due to higher proportion of consumption in heavy industry and a greater need for energy in space heating in a colder climate. While trends in industry are moving away from energy intensive processes, the climate remains cold.

Several factors give rise to conflicting trends in domestic energy use in Scotland. There is an ageing population and an increase in the number of households and increased single-person living.  There is a growing demand for electrical appliances to increases consumption, but ongoing improvements in housing stock efficiency are helping to reduce it.

The areas where reductions in electricity consumption can be reduced are identified as: improved home insulation, awareness of phantom load and other wasteful habits, improved lighting efficiency.  Lighting and appliances account for 28% of electricity consumption according to ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’, a consultation paper published by the UK government Department of Energy and Climate Change, November 2012 [18].

There are savings to be made as better electricity saving technologies are adopted in appliance designs, similar to efficiency improvements seen with lighting as incandescent bulbs are phased out, and LED and CFT lighting is adopted.

Other areas of reduction include: Lighting controls, replacement of street lights with LEDs, replacement of electric heating with heat pumps, and generally improving control and efficiency of commercial and industrial processes.

Significant investment in upgrading building insulation, lighting technology and control, and industrial processes is required to reduce consumption through increased efficiency.  Building regulations for new buildings already requires this efficiency.  New efficient appliances will reduce consumption as old ones are replaced.

Over the 10 years to 2023, an annual reduction of 1,250 GWh (2.5%) is required from existing modes of consumption to achieve the 25% reduction target. This will be achieved in the early stages from the switchover to efficient lighting (1 – 3 years).  Once saturation of this measure is reached, the more gradual and capital intensive insulation and appliance replacement measures will begin to take effect for domestic consumption (2 – 10 years).  In the longer term, the larger industrial and commercial adaptations will account for efficiency induced reduction in electricity consumption (5 – 10 years).

3.2  Green Electricity Displacing Fossil Fuel.

Although reduction in current electricity use is desirable, increased Renewable Energy capacity is being rapidly developed.  In order to displace Fossil Fuel consumption, in line with Climate Change targets, increases in overall electricity consumption will be seen.

Besides renewable energy displacing Natural Gas and Coal directly in Electricity Generation, as Transport vehicles, cars and trucks are gradually powered by electricity or hydrogen, and not petroleum, there will be an increased demand for electricity either directly or as part of hydrogen production.

There may be a reduction in Transport use and the associated energy consumption, but an overall increase in electricity consumption is likely.  Overall efficiency improvements should see a decrease in total energy consumption overall by 2023.

According to ‘The Scottish Energy Study’ of 2006 [19], Oil based fuels in Transport of 46.77 TWh were consumed in 2002.  Of this, 71% (33.2 TWh) was for Road Transport, 18% for Aviation, 7% for Marine Transport and 4% (1.9 TWh) for Rail Transport.  Focusing on the land based Transportation of road and rail, there is potential to convert 35.1 TWh annually from fossil fuel to renewable electricity.  These figures are valid for 2013 as patterns of road and rail use have remained fairy constant in the past few decades.

Assuming a direct replacement of vehicle petroleum energy by renewable electrical energy, this 35.1TWh is converted to electrical consumption and added to the total.  The enormity of this switch over in terms of infrastructure in charging points, increased electrical output, and availability and uptake of electric vehicles, not to mention opposition from oil companies and other oil stakeholders, suggests that this is a medium to long term scenario.

CHART_Scotland Onshore Wind Capacity 2010-2012

Figure 3.0: Scotland Onshore Wind Capacity

However, at the rate of Renewable expansion currently occurring, the energy capacity issue is being addressed.  For the purpose of this forecast I see an initial switch over of 5% at year 5 (2018), with a 2.5% increase annually.  The first five years will see patchy improvements in uptake of these vehicles, but as infrastructure improves, vehicle prices fall and the technology is developed further, more people will be willing to make the switch.

There are currently more charging points being added every month throughout the country.

3.3  Phasing Out Nuclear Energy 

Scotland’s two Nuclear Power Stations: Hunterston B and Torness are both expected to operate until 2023, at least.  Replacement of the baseload power provided by these stations offers significant challenges, if Renewable sources are to be used in place.  The intermittent nature of Wind and Solar energy is the main issue.

Solutions to cope with this intermittency include increasing current pumped storage capacity of 700 MW.  Depending upon the extent of upgrades to the transmission network, it is estimated that an increase in energy storage capacity of between 3.5 GW and 7 GW would be required [20].

There are two large-scale pumped storage schemes currently being planned for the central Highlands by Scottish and Southern Energy.  These plants have a combined capacity of 900 MW.

Other technologies for large scale storage such as flywheel and battery storage may be part of the solution.  One idea for the future is the use of vehicle battery storage that allows for plugged in vehicles being charged up to act as energy stores, to feed back into the grid as necessary.  Control mechanisms to ensure that vehicles are available for use by owners would form part of such a scheme where financial incentives for participation in grid storage are offered.

4.0  Problems Barriers and Policy Issues

Today in our well developed society we have vastly improved analysis and communication tools at our disposal.  As we are better equipped to foresee potential problems, such as resource depletion and environmental degradation, we are also able to adjust our behaviour in order that we avoid or mitigate the worst consequences of natural phenomenon.

However, there is an inertia which works against major upheaval and change in society.  This is one of the major challenges as we work towards having a better and more sustainable energy industry.  In this section of the report, we identify some of these issues and propose solutions where they exist.

4.1  Identification of Social Barriers to Energy Improvements

People are often resistant to change if it brings increased effort and expense for little or no apparent lifestyle improvement.  The level of awareness of issues like peak oil and global warming will have a large bearing on responsiveness to such problems.

Unless the majority of people are convinced that alterations to consumption levels or long held habits are absolutely necessary, en-mass buy in is unlikely.

Capital investment in more efficient appliances presents an extraordinary strain on personal finances.  The transfer rate to reduced energy consumption achieved when people only replace equipment at end-of-life is low.  Rates are increased as people are encouraged to adopt more efficient equipment sooner.

A particular issue of split incentives is prevalent in rented buildings, both for domestic homes and commercial property.  The cost of upgrading is met by the owner, but the improved facility is enjoyed by the tenant.  Most of the time, short term planning prevails and upgrades are not made.

For large capital projects, the initial spend is usually very large and the payback in terms of reduced energy bills is less apparent.  For this reason, people usually delay this type of project until it becomes absolutely necessary.  This is linked to a lack of finance or access to it.

As well as the financial issue related to energy improvements such as insulation upgrading in homes and commercial premises is the disruption to the space during a refit.

A particular social barrier to the development of wind turbines is the opposition by some people who think that they are unsightly and/or too noisy.

4.2  Solutions to Social Barriers

With respect to social awareness of issues like peak oil and global warming, there needs to be accepted agreement by the establishment: scientists, politicians, economists and business, that the problem exists.  After years of skepticism, global warming is now accepted by governments and is now being tackled at international level.

Peak oil is less well accepted, and until it is, measures to mitigate for oil shortages and subsequent increases in fuel prices are unlikely to be adopted.

Awareness campaigns by governments, using internet, television, radio and other media must be implemented well, to raise public awareness and enlist their support and efforts.

It is known that low cost and basic habit changes, such as using efficient low energy light bulbs and appliances, and reducing phantom loads can reduce energy consumption dramatically.  Also, newer more energy efficient appliances are being developed to reduce consumption.

Government backed finance initiatives, such as the UK’s ‘Green Deal’, allows home and business owners to have approved upgrades carried out and pay back the cost in instalments as the portion of energy cost saved in monthly fuel bills.

Whilst we are still heavily reliant on petroleum for public and personal transport, better driving techniques: lower speeds and acceleration rates, less braking and better use of geographical elevations, all reduce consumption.

In industry, inefficient or oversized motors and equipment can be replaced with newer and better controlled units.


4.3  Identification of Political Barriers to Energy Improvements

Currently, in the midst of a global economic slump, national governments have less capital available to invest in large energy projects and infrastructure.  In the UK, the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government are executing an austerity programme, which extends to energy investment, so no additional funding is being made available.

In Scotland, the coastal waters extending out 12 miles (19 km) are owned by the Crown Estates and generates income for the Queen.  In effect any offshore wind wave or tidal energy company operating in this area must agree a split of profits with the Crown.

Planning law and the administration of development is carried out at local authority level.  Restrictions are in place for small scale building for both upgrades and new builds.  Administration fees and effort required to negotiate planning are a disincentive to development.  Large scale energy and infrastructure projects usually have an element of national government involvement in terms of administration and finance.

4.4  Political Policy

The Department of Energy and Climate Change commissioned the ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’ report, published in November 2012.  The report analysis identifies key areas of improvement and quantifies potential savings across all sectors.

The report highlights national benefits resulting from a general energy efficiency awareness and broad public and business buy-in.  Reduction in energy demand means that fewer power stations and lighter infrastructure would be required, so reducing system costs.

Reduced energy bills make businesses more competitive in a global marketplace, and stimulate growth.  Also, individual households with lower fuel bills have more disposable income to spend locally, so completing the virtuous circle.

4.5  Environmental Issues in Energy Development

As part of the planning process in Scotland, Environmental Impact Assessments are required for developments.  This is especially true for sites of wind and marine energy, which have previously been undeveloped, Greenfield sites.

Many of the proposed sites for these renewable projects are in remote and rural areas, where the natural environment is prized for its rich diversity of flora and fauna.  The aesthetics of the natural and rugged beauty of the Scottish wilderness is guarded by a host of environment stakeholders including: Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, John Muir Trust, and the National Trust for Scotland.

Wind turbines are assessed particularly for impacts on bird migration and habitat, as well as visual impact on the landscape.  Great care is taken to avoid unnecessary disruption to the natural environment during construction and operation of the turbines.

Similarly, marine assessments are carried out for wave and tidal hydrokinetic schemes to ensure minimal disruption to marine life, local to the devices.

In the end, the relative costs and benefits of the development, after public consultation are evaluated at the planning stage.

5.0  Lists and Graphs of Renewable Sources and 10 Year Projections.

TABLE_Scot Renewable 2011 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

MAP_Scot Wind Intalled Cap Sect 5.0

TABLE_Scot Renewable Elect Sources 2014-2023 SEct 5.0

Table 5.0: Renewable Energy Sources


  • See section 2.6 for Wind and Marine Energy projection rationales.
  • Typical Capacity Factors for Scottish conditions used.

CHART_Scot Renew Output 2014-2023 Sect 5.0

Figure 5.0:  Graph of Renewable Output

TABLE_Scot Total Energy Cons 2011-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Table 5.1:  Total Energy Consumption


  • See section 3.2 for explanation of Petroleum transfer to Electricity consumption.
  • Solid Fuel and Natural Gas for space heating reductions to reflect insulation upgrades.

CHART_Scot Total Energy Cons by Fuel 2014-2023 Sect 5.0

Figure 5.1:  Graph of Total Energy Output

TABLE_Scot Elect Gen 2011-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Table 5.2:  Projected Electricity Generation


  • It is anticipated that a conservative reduction of 50% in Coal and Natural Gas will result from increased Renewable generation.
  • Nuclear shall remain constant throughout life of existing plant.
  • It is anticipated that production shall outstrip consumption by nearly 3:1 by 2023, with excess going to export in UK and Europe.

CHART_Scot Elect Gen 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.2:  Graph of Projected Electricity Generation


  • Renewable energy is on the cusp of displacing Fossil Fuels in electricity generation.
  • Conservative reductions in Coal and Natural Gas may be increased as Renewable technology matures.
  • Nuclear energy remains constant until end of current plant lifetime.

CHART_Scot Elect Supply 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.3:  Graph of Electrical Energy Supply 


  • Losses are due to generator use, transmission and distribution losses.
  • Projected losses calculated at 2011 percentage of total electricity generated.
  • Exports currently to England and Northern Ireland.  Future export interconnector possible to Europe.

CHART_Scot Total Energy Renew 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.4: Percentage of Total Energy Consumption by Renewable Sources 


  • Percentage of Renewable energy generated as a percentage of total energy consumption (all fuel types).

6.0  Report Summary

Summary of Major Issues surrounding Global Energy:

  • Peak Oil, Resource depletion and Global Warming illustrate that current Energy Consumption patterns are not sustainable.
  • Renewable Energy sources are the Key to reducing Fossil Fuel dependency and reduction in Carbon emissions.
  • Political, Economical and Social inertia to major change present Barriers in adopting better practices and technology.
  • Greater awareness of the issues by the masses and positive political assistance will accelerate required changes.
  • Additional efficiency benefits accompany the main consumption reduction goals: Lighter infrastructure requirements, lower pollution levels, freeing up of finances at both the national and individual level.
  • Better energy security from a national scheme, with less reliance on foreign energy sources.

Summary of Recommended Steps in Implementing the Plan.

  • Increase the capacity of national and local Renewable Energy generation.
  • National assistance in the Research and Development of new Renewable Energy technologies like Hydrokinetic Marine devices and static wind energy generators.
  • Develop low and zero carbon Transportation vehicles.  Adopt more efficient Driving Techniques.
  • Reduce personal Electricity Consumption by switching appliances and lights off when not in use.
  • Replace appliances and light bulbs with more energy efficient ones.
  • Better insulate buildings to reduce HVAC energy consumption.
  • Government to encourage energy efficiency by providing information on best practices and financial assistance for capital intensive upgrades.
  • Governments to set and meet targets for Carbon reduction and energy efficiency.


[1]        Gazetteer for Scotland Grangemouth Power Station

[2]        Wikipedia Cockenzie Power Station

[3]        Consumer Focus Scotland Our Goals

[4]        Scottish government ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’, August 2011.

[5]        Scottish Development International

[6]        Wikipedia Wind Turbine

[7]        REWIRE article April 2013

[8]        Union of Concerned Scientists Website

[9]        Scottish Development International

[10]      Scottish Power Renewables ‘Whitelee Wind Farm

[11]       Scottish Power Renewables ‘Construction Update

[12]       Scottish government publication ‘Conserve and Save: The Energy Efficiency Action Plan

[13]       Scottish government publication ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’

            Part 5

[14]       Scottish Power Renewables, ‘Offshore Wind

[15]       The Crown Estate ‘Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters

[16]       Scottish government publication ‘Blue Seas – Green Energy

[17]       European Marine Energy Centre

[18]       UK government publication ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’ DECC November 2012

[19]       Scottish Energy Study – Volume 1 – Energy in Scotland, Supply and Demand, 2006

[20]       Scots Renewables website ‘Pumped Storage Hydro In Scotland’ February 2011

Useful Weblinks (Updated June 2014)

BBC: Tidal energy: Pentland Firth ‘could power half of Scotland’ (20 January 2014)

BBC: Pentland Firth tidal turbine project given consent (16 September 2013)

Scottish Government: Marine Scotland – Marine and Fisheries, Offshore Renewable Energy

European Marine Energy Centre (Orkney, Scotland)

Transforming the US National Transportation System

titles_green transportation_4

Written for Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Global Sustainable Energy, Past, Present and Future‘ by the University of Florida (June 2013).

1.0  Introduction

The United States of America was the industrial and cultural powerhouse of the 20th century.  It dominated world trade and was a deciding influence on the outcome in two World Wars.  It has been the beacon for democracy and free market trading for 100 years.  However, as we progress through this next century of greater global equity, the USA has to navigate some major cultural hurdles and moderate its runaway consumer society to maintain its leadership role in international affairs.

The US economy, with a nominal GDP of $15.7 trillion (a quarter of the global total) is by far the world’s largest.  China has the second largest with a GDP of $8.2 trillion.  The European Union is marginally bigger, economically, than the USA with a combined GDP of $16.4 trillion [1.0].

The Academic Institutions of the USA provides University education to over 700,000 [1.1] international  students annually as well as  providing more than 30% of Americans with bachelor degrees [1.2].  The USA in this respect has been instrumental in preparing the conditions for an era of global integration and a more enlightened approach to solving global issues.

The USA has led the world in computer technology, to the development of virtual world forum that is the internet.  Here the potential for clearer communication and understanding between countries and cultures promises a future of global solutions to global problems.

However, with economic success has come issues related to over consumption, to arguably    unsustainable levels.  These issues have global as well as national implications.

Energy has been at the centre rapid development in the USA.  Oil has been the significant energy source throughout the last century of industrial, economic and cultural development.  Oil is a remarkable substance for two reasons:

  • It has a very high energy content, gasoline and diesel fuel provides 46 MJ/kg,
  • It is in liquid form at ambient temperature it is easily transported and stored.

It proved to be a very useful transportation fuel.  Up until the past few decades, it was abundant and easy to extract and process into usable products.

Widespread and intensive consumption has led to dwindling reserves and high pollution levels which are contributing to global warming and climate change.  The unsustainable nature of oil as a fuel from both a resource and environment perspective has led to a search for alternatives.

USA Oil Statistics in million barrels per day:

  • Production 5.7
  • Consumption 18.8
  • Crude Imports 8.9
  • Other Imports 4.2

This report investigates how the USA can alleviate its reliance on imported oil and discusses technological, social and economic impacts of the proposed plan, including:

  • Reducing Overall Consumption of Oil
  • Reducing Imports of Oil
  • Finding Alternative Transportation Fuels
  • Improving Vehicle Fleet Efficiency
  • Increasing Freight by Rail
  • Improving Mass Transit Systems
  • Reducing Air Travel

2.0  Description of Current Status and Transformation Goals

2.1  Description of USA Goals

In order to reduce reliance on imported oil and also to reduce CO2 emissions, the USA is looking to find efficiency savings by: improving mass transit systems, encouraging citizens to reduce personal consumption, and funding research to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles.

The USA is a net importer of oil and is the largest consumer of oil in the world, 18.9 million barrels per day in 2011 [2.1].  Consumption has grown steadily with improved standards of living, increasing throughout the 1980s and 1990s even as production levels fell.  Inefficient fuel consumption habits were adopted during times of prosperity with a cheap supply of oil.  Between 1985 and 2005 production figures steadily declined.  During this period, the growing oil deficit prompted government to focus on ways to reduce consumption.

However, recent developments in ‘fracking’ technology and discoveries of shale oil deposits in Montana, North Dakota and Texas have caused a rebound in US oil production.  There is now talk of another oil boom and widespread challenges to ‘Peak-Oil’ economic theory.

The value of developing more sustainable energy sources from an environmental and climate change perspective remains as motivation to support research in alternatives to oil and other fossil fuels.  Furthermore, recent discoveries of oil deposits may only temporarily bolster home production.

USA Oil Consumption Goals:

  • Reduce reliance on Imported Oil.
  • Reduce overall consumption of Energy.
  • Encourage more use of Mass Transit, especially in Urban Areas.
  • Develop better Alternative Fuel vehicles.
  • Develop more Fuel Efficient conventional vehicles.
  • Limit use of Oil to where alternatives are difficult. 

2.2  Detailed Description of Oil Consumption, Production, Imports and Exports,

Oil production fell from over 11 million barrels per day in 1985 to just under 8.5 in 2005.  With the discovery of the Bakken (North Dakota/Montana)and Eagle Ford (Texas) shale oil deposits and successful fracturing techniques, production is again rising and may divert focus from efficiency efforts [2.1].

EIA US Oil Production Consumption Exports 1990-2012

According to EIA, the USA was by far the largest consumer of oil in the world in 2011, with 18.9 million barrels per day.  It has been the largest consumer since oil was used on a commercial scale in the early 1900s.  China, a country of 1.3 billion people, compared with 317 million in the US, was the second largest consumer with nearly half US consumption of 9.8 million barrels per day.

In the USA the equivalent per capita consumption is 2.5 gallons per day, and in China 0.3 gallons.

EIA World Oil Consumption 2011

In 2011, the USA was the third largest producer of oil with 10.14 million barrels per day, behind Saudi Arabia (11.15 Mbbl/day) and Russia (10.24 Mbbl/day).

EIA World Oil Production 2011

In 2011, the USA had declared proven reserves of 23.3 billion barrels of oil.  The most oil rich countries were Saudi Arabia (262.6 billion barrels) and Venezuela (211.2 billion barrels).  However, there is some doubt over these top reserve figures, as OPEC countries reserve estimates have been erratic in the past. According to Mining Weekly, they could be overstated by as much as 70% [2.2].

EIA World Oil Reserves 2011

The USA is the worlds top importer of oil.  In 2011 it imported 8.8 million barrels per day.  The countries supplying the US are: Canada (28%), Saudi Arabia (13%), Mexico (10%), Venezuela (9%) and Russia (5%)

EIA World Top Oil Importers 2011

The US EIA flow diagram shows the inflow and outflow of US Oil in 2011.  The large consumption outflow for Transportation Fuel is most notable, as well as the various import inflows.

EIA US Petroleum Flow Diag 2011


Current USA Oil statistics (EIA 2012):

  • Production:         6.5 million barrels per day
  • Consumption:   15.0 million barrels per day
  • Imports:              8.5 million barrels per day

2.3  Internal consumption of main transportation fuels: Diesel, Gasoline, Jet Fuel

The largest consumption of oil in the USA is by motor vehicles.  On average, motor gasoline accounts for 37% of all oil use.  Distillate fuel oil, which includes diesel, and residential fuel oil both average just above 15% each.  Aircraft fuel (Jets), consume about 6% of the total.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (mostly propane and/or butane), about 9% of consumption, is used mainly in rural heating and cooking in areas with  no mains gas supply.  It is also used as a vehicle fuel as an alternative to gasoline and diesel, only 0.1% of US LPG consumption in 2005.

EIA US Oil Cons 2008 2009 2010

EIA US Oil Cons 2008 2009 2010 Table


2.3.1  Motor Gasoline

As can be seen in the map and table below, the average rate of car ownership in the USA is about 0.77 cars per people, including children!  So in actual fact adults own more than one car each.  The states with a greater average than 1 car per capita are Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Iowa, Alabama and Nebraska.  These states are largely rural of low population density and associated with agriculture as a primary economic activity.  These factors help to explain the higher reliance on personal vehicles.  The states with the highest total amount of vehicles are also the most populous, but with ownership rates of between 0.57 for New York and 0.91 for Ohio.  The high population density in New York City coupled with good mass transit explains the low vehicle rate.

The states with the lowest incidence of car ownership are: Colorado (0.34), Washington DC (0.35), Nevada (0.5), New York (0.57) and Indiana (0.61).  These figures give some indication of national dependence on personal vehicles and subsequent consumption levels of petroleum [2.3].

US Personal Vehicles by State MAP

US Personal Vehicles by State Table

New York City is a good example of how in densely populated urban areas, effective mass transit is possible and preferable to car use.  It is the only city in the US with a mass transit commute rate greater than 50%.  The bubble graph below shows the urban centers with highest mass transit usage.

US City Commute Patterns 2008 BUBBLE

Nationally, the statistics show an overwhelming 88% of commutes to work are by car, 76% of which are by lone drivers.  Work related driving accounts for 28% of all driving miles.  Less than 5% of commutes are by mass transit and just over 3% avoid work travel by working from home.  The remainder get to work by taxi, walking, biking and other means to complete the remaining 4%. [2.4]

US Commuters and Driving Stats Table

2.3.2  Distillate Fuel Oil

Ranging from Number 1 to Number 6, distillate fuel oil is produced in refineries from crude oil.  Numbers 1 to 3 are diesel fuel with hydrocarbon chain lengths of 9 to 20.  Numbers 4 to 6 are heavy fuel oils used mainly for heating, with chain lengths of 12 to 70.

EIA US Sales Distillate Fuel Oil by End Use 1985 2010 GRAPH

About half of all distillate consumed in the USA is as diesel in road transportation, 36.2 of the 57.1 billion gallons used in 2011.  Other main end users include: Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Farm, Railroad, Construction and Shipping, each using between 2 and 3.6 billion gallons annually [2.5].

2.3.3  Freight: Road & Rail

According to a 2009 study by the US Department of Transportation ‘A Modal Comparison of Domestic Freight Transportation Effects on the General Public’, fuel efficiency for freight modes:

  • Railroad Freight 413 Ton-Miles/Gallon
  • Highway Trucks 155 Ton-Miles/Gallon

US Freight Tonnage 2007 2010 TABLE

As can be seen from the Department of Transportation statistics for 2010, 68% of all freight is transported in trucks on the highway, and only about 10% by Railroad.  Whilst trucks offer greater flexibility, since road networks are more widespread and less regulated, railroads are a more fuel efficient mode of transport.

US Freight Tranportation Modes 2007-2009 TABLE

Furthermore, Department of Transportation figures indicate that in recent years, railroads are becoming more fuel efficient, but truck efficiency remains fairly static.

EIA US Sales Dist Fuel Oil by End User 1985-2010 GRAPH


2.3.4  Jet Fuel

As illustrated in the graph below, consumption of Jet fuel rose from the mid 1980s to a peak in August 2001, and then falling again to a current rate of consumption of 31.6 billion gallons per day (March 2013).

EIA US Kerosene Sales 1985-2010 GRAPH

Passenger miles in the US have steadily risen annually since 1990, except when consumer confidence was shaken by the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and the recession hit in 2008/9 causing an initial decrease US citizen departures, followed by a drop in International visitors to the USA [2.6].

US Air Passenger Miles 1990-2010 GRAPH

As can be seen in the graphs below, US air freight growth has remained fairly flat, apart from the same recession dip in 2009.  The combined freight and passenger activity trend upwards since peak air fuel consumption in 2001.  This suggests that aircraft and airlines  have become more efficient in recent years.

US Air Cargo Summary 2003-2013 GRAPH

Information technology has help reduce the quantity of unallocated seats by use of ‘smarter ticketing’, and fuel management software has increased efficiency by about 4.5% [2.7].  Also, additions of newer aircraft, which are designed to be more efficient, are helping reduce overall consumption.

2.3.5  Residential Fuel Oil

Residential fuel oil is used for heating, mainly in remote and rural areas without access to mains gas supply.  Consumption fell from 8.2 billion gallons in 1984 to 3.6 billion in 2011 (see graph in distillate fuel section).  This reduction in use is largely due to price increases, encouraging consumers to economise and seek alternative and more affordable heating fuels [2.8].

2.3.6  Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Similarly to Fuel Oil, LPG is mostly used in remote areas away from mains natural gas.  It is used as an alternative fuel in modified vehicles, but not in significant numbers in the USA.

2.4  Behavioral Actions Required to Decrease USA Transportation Fuel Consumption

2.4.1  Gas Guzzler Tax

In order to discourage vehicle fuel inefficiency, the US government introduced ‘Gas Guzzler’ tax measures in the 1978 ‘Energy Tax Act.’  New cars are tax assessed according to their fuel economy [2.9].

2.4.2  Federal Tax Credits 

Tax credits are available, worth up to $7,500, towards the purchase of an electric or hybrid vehicle. 

2.4.3  New Fuel Economy Labels

To provide better clarity, Vehicle Fuel Economy Labels have been introduced by the US Environmental Protection Agency.  They provide clear information about the fuel performance of the vehicle including expected MPG, tailpipe emissions, and expected fuel costs.

These labels also apply to vehicles which use alternative fuels such as electric and hybrids with energy conversion information expressed in terms of equivalent MPG.

US EPA Vehicle Labels

[EPA Fuel Economy Labels ]

 2.4.4  EIA US Transportation Highlights 2011:

  • Overall consumption of alternative transportation fuels increased almost 13% in 2011, to a total of 515,920 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons.
  • In alternative-fueled vehicles, consumption of ethanol (E85) jumped 52% from the prior year’s consumption to 137,165 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2011, a reflection of the increase in overall inventory of E85-capable vehicles.
  • While inventory and fuel use in automobiles continues to increase, the rise in the use of medium duty vans had a larger impact on fuel consumption due to their higher rate of consumption and, in contrast to light duty vehicles, they are more likely to be utilized as an alternative-fueled vehicle than a traditional gasoline-fueled vehicle.
  • Many fleets meet petroleum reduction requirements by using biodiesel rather than alternative fuels. Changes in biofuel subsidies, specifically replacement fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, affect consumption trends in the marketplace. With the reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit and the requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard, consumption of biodiesel grew almost 240% between 2010 and 2011. Consumption of ethanol in gasohol (E10) remained flat between 2010 and 2011 since almost all gasoline in the United States is now blended with 10 percent ethanol. This “blend wall” (the maximum amount that can be blended into standard gasoline without requiring different equipment, warranties or infrastructure) has shifted more ethanol into the E85 sector.
  • Consumption of electricity in light duty automobiles increased by almost 36% with a total of 7,635 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2011 compared to 4,847 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2010. While the majority of electric vehicles in use remains in the low speed vehicle category (45,397 of the total 67,296 electric vehicles in use 2011), inventory of electric automobiles increased rapidly to 10,245 automobiles in 2011, primarily in the private sector where electric vehicles are becoming more widely available to private households.


2.4.5  Driving Techniques

Driving less aggressively, less speeding, braking and accelerating, has the effect of improving fuel efficiency.  Driving above 50mph begins to drastically increases fuel consumption.  Using cruise control is a good way of moderating speed.  Excess weight in a vehicle results in higher fuel consumption.  By ensuring that unnecessary items are removed from the trunk and inside the vehicle compartment, this can be minimized.

By avoiding peak-hour traffic you can better control fuel efficiency due to reduced braking and engine idling.  Car sharing is an effective way of reducing overall fuel consumption, and using mass transit, bus or train, is even better.  Sharing is encouraged in many towns and cities by the provision of high occupancy vehicle lanes which are for exclusive use by shared vehicles.  They are usually less congested and allow easy transit [2.10].

2.5  Hardware Efficiency Improvements (Cars, Buses, Airplanes)

2.5.1  Road Traffic  Hydrogen Fuel

Research and development of Hydrogen as a motor vehicle fuel is being prioritized as it has great potential to replace petroleum.  The technology is based on ‘fuel cells’ which use hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity to power the vehicle.  As well as reducing dependency on oil, this is a green technology which emits no greenhouse gasses or harmful pollutants from the vehicle.  However, producing hydrogen fuel is energy intensive, and depending upon this fuel source, some emissions are possible.  Some design challenges currently being tackled are: vehicle range and fuel cell durability and reliability.  Other issues, in common with most alternative fuels are: high vehicle cost and fuel supply infrastructure.  These are likely to become less of an issue with increased market penetration and consumer uptake.

Hydrogen Fuel Target Price

[2.11]  Bio Fuel 

Ethanol and biodiesel are produced from vegetation and some animal fats.  These fuels can be used in conventional vehicles with little or no conversion required.  Ethanol is an alcohol which is fermented from crops such as corn, trees and gasses.  Gasohol (E10) is a 9:1 gasoline/ethanol blend available throughout the USA and can be used directly in most conventional vehicles.

Flex-fuel vehicles have engine and fuel system modifications which allow them to run on E85, which is a 80% ethanol rich, gasoline blend.  There are currently about 2000, and growing, filling stations in the US providing E85.

Since Ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline, the mpg is lower.  However, using ethanol lowers dependency on imported oil with indigenous ethanol production.

Biodiesel is also produced in the USA.  It is manufactured from vegetable oil and animal fats, including recycled restaurant grease and oil [2.12].  Conventional Vehicle Improved Efficiency 

In the chart below, from US Department of Energy/EPA ‘Fuel Economy Guide 2013’, the fuel economy ranges of different class vehicles are provided.

Fuel Economy and Cost Ranges CHART


US Car Fleet MPG 1976-2014 GRAPH


The Corporate Average Fleet Economy (CAFE) was introduced by US Congress to reduce energy consumption in 1976.  It continues in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to set standards and increase the fuel economy of cars and light trucks.

The CAFE figures shown in the graph above indicate that overall fuel economy of road vehicles in the USA is steadily improving.  The EPA data in the table below illustrates the current potential MPG ratings of vehicles currently available.

US EPA Most Fuel Efficient Cars 2013 TABLE

[ ]

2.5.2  Air Traffic 

British Airways Info: 747-400 Aircraft cruises at 576 mph (927 km/h), burning 12,788 liters (3378 US gallons) of fuel per hour.  It carries 409 passengers when full. With 75% occupancy, each  passenger is carried 22.2 km for each liter of fuel used (52.2 miles for each US gallon of fuel burned).

This fuel efficiency exceeds that most all cars, but only if the driver is traveling alone.  Land based travel in multiple occupancy vehicles is much more efficient, but are a lot slower over greater distances.  Short haul flights offer reduced advantages when airport transit time is considered.

RITA Monthly Cost and Cons 2000-2010 GRAPH  IPCC Aviation and the Global Atmosphere

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the UN established scientific body which assesses the risks associated with climate change caused by human activity (greenhouse gas emissions).

According to the IPCC it summarises Aircraft Fuel Efficiency Improvements:

  • Significant improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency have been achieved since the dawn of the jet age in commercial aviation.
  • Historically, these improvements have averaged 1-2% per year for new production aircraft.
  • These advances have been achieved through incorporation of new engine and airframe technology.
  • Changes have included incremental and large-scale improvements.
  • Examined over several decades, however, they represent a relatively steady and continuous rate of improvement.
  • A similar trend is assumed when fuel efficiency improvements are projected forward to 2050.

IPCC Aviation Fuel Efficiency 1950-2050 TABLE


3.0  Timeframe for Completion

In the ten year timeframe to 2023, using 2011 EIA figures for Oil Consumption as a 2013 baseline, projected reductions are shown in the table below (units: million barrels per day ).

Timeframe for Completion Petroleum Reductions TABLE

3.1  Work Travel

As seen in the previous section, work related travel makes up 27.5% of all personal vehicle miles.  More than 75% of commutes are in single occupancy vehicles, which is a very inefficient mode of transportation.  Efficiencies can be made by increasing shared journeys, and making use of mass transit.  Reducing work related travel by working from home and making use teleconferencing is becoming more popular and is becoming easier with improved internet facilities.

Investment in improved mass transit: bus and light railway systems, should be targeted in the more densely populated urban areas.  Large cities should both develop state of the art transit infrastructures which improve travel times by reducing traffic congestion and pollution.  This has the added benefit of reducing overall fuel consumption.

I have set a target of 30% efficiency savings in the Work Travel category.

3.2  Other Travel

The remainder of personal vehicle transportation is for social, family and personal activity.  Again, much of this is by single occupancy vehicle.  The inefficiency of use in this category is linked to the relatively low cost of gasoline in the USA.  Other OECD countries have imposed high fuel tax to discourage over consumption.  I believe that this is necessary in the USA to encourage use of alternative modes of transport and reduce passenger miles.

Motor Fuel Tax by Country TABLE

I have set a target of 30% efficiency savings in the Other Travel category.


3.3  Driving Technique Efficiency

Poor driving technique and aggressive driving causes high fuel consumption.  Driving too fast (above 50 mph), excessive accelerating and frequent braking all increase fuel consumption.  Many people are unaware of the extent that poor technique has on fuel efficiency and cost.

Poor car maintenance can also reduce fuel efficiency.  Under inflated tires and dirty fuel and air filters all increase fuel consumption.

A campaign of better public awareness coupled with increased fuel tax should encourage drivers to save on fuel by adopting better practice.  It has been proven that efficiency savings of between 20% and 30% are possible by these measures alone.

I have set a target of 15% efficiency savings in the Driving Technique category.

3.4  Driving Technology Efficiency

The USA starts from a relatively low average efficiency figure of 23 mpg.  This reflects the preference for larger vehicles with larger engines which has been encouraged by low fuel prices.  With improved general awareness of oil supply issues, environmental impacts and potential increases in fuel price,  there is greater focus on fuel economy.

Since the technology exists already to significantly improve the national average for vehicle fuel efficiency, the majority replacement of the US fleet is possible within ten years.

I have set a target of 25% efficiency savings in the Driving Technology category.

3.5  Alternative Fuelled Vehicles

Electric powered cars and Hybrids are available now and are being further developed to improve range and performance.  The charge station infrastructure is growing steadily throughout the country.  Hydrogen fuelled cars are also in development and entering the market.

Both of these technologies can be powered by clean and renewable energy, depending upon the means of electricity generation.  Eventually, as renewable power displaces fossil fuel in electricity supply, low carbon transportation is possible.  In the given timeframe significant market penetration is possible.

I have set a target of 20% efficiency savings in the Alternative Fuelled Vehicles category.

3.6  Biofuel Displacement of Oil

Biofuels such as biodiesel and bioethanol are produced from vegetation and recycled animal fats.  They are already in widespread use in conventional vehicles, requiring little or no modification to engines or fuel system.

I have set a target of 10% efficiency savings in the Biofuel Displacement category.

3.7  Freight Truck to Rail

The current dominance of Highway Trucking in freight transportation in the USA offers marginally greater convenience with significantly lower fuel efficiency, as compared to Railroad transportation.  Long term, the majority of long distance freight should be moved by rail, wherever possible, with trucks and vans making up the shortfall in the connecting miles between rail terminals and customers.

I have set a target of 25% efficiency savings in the Freight Truck to Rail category.

3.8  Truck Fuel Efficiency

Similarly as with light vehicles,  a focus on better fuel efficiency within the road freight industry in both technology and practice should yield significant fuel efficiency savings.  However, since this is a commercial venture under greater scrutiny, efficiency savings are expected to be lower.

I have set a target of 10% efficiency savings in the Truck Fuel Efficiency category.

3.9  Distillate Fuel Oil

The portion of distillate fuel oil used as a source of heating is an inappropriate use of liquid fuel.  Residents and business owners that use oil as a heating fuel should be encouraged to convert to cleaner and more appropriate systems such as wood pellet stoves or heat pumps in combination with micro renewable technology.

I have set a target of 15% efficiency savings in the Truck Fuel Efficiency category.

3.10  Air Travel

Air travel is the only practical means of long distance and inter-continental travel.  It is also an inefficient and highly polluting mode of short to medium distance travel.  Many US domestic short haul routes are difficult to justify as total travel time between destinations when using more fuel efficient alternatives such as trains, busses and even cars are almost equivalent.

Overall I have set a target of 25% efficiency savings in the Overall Air Traffic category.

Short haul flights in the USA account for 40% of total passenger miles.

I have set an additional target of 25% efficiency savings in the Short Haul Air Travel category.

Advances in airliner efficiency due to better management systems, lightweight composite materials and improved airframe and engine design all promise continuous improvement in fuel efficiency.

I have set a target of 10% efficiency savings in the Improved Air Fuel Efficiency category.

3.11  Total Efficiency Savings

Total efficiency savings amount to 10.5 million barrels of oil per day, equivalent to almost 80% of current Transportation Oil, by 2023.  A huge potential saving in terms of foreign imports and the trade deficit, plus energy security.  These measures also reduce the national CO2 emissions significantly.     


4.0  Problems, Barriers, and Policy Issues

4.1  Social Barriers

4.1.1  Car as a Lifestyle Accessory

The motor car is embedded deep in American culture and folklore.  It has been a symbol of freedom and independent lifestyle for generations.  This will be a difficult belief to alter, especially in adults who have grown up with these ideas and patterns of behavior.

4.1.2  Stigma of Public Transport

Public transport has in some regions been associated with poverty and traveling on busses and trains seen as second best to riding in ones own personal vehicle.  Furthermore, with lack of investment and adequate maintenance many of these modes of transport have become worn out looking, dirty and uncomfortable.  The inconvenience of waiting for irregular arrivals of busses and trains is also off-putting.

4.1.3  Low Density and Sprawling built Environment

The nature of the sprawling built environment in the majority of US conurbations, designed around car users, makes travel by foot or bicycle impractical on a daily basis.  A lack of public transportation in many areas reinforces the requirement to use a car.

4.1.4  Lack of Rail Infrastructure

The intercity/interstate network of railroads is patchy across the USA, with many lines that do exist dedicated to freight only.  The extent of the high speed network is illustrated in the map below.  California and the north east is connected (though not to each other!), but elsewhere service is poor.

US High Speed Rail MAP

4.1.5  Lack of Local Mass Transit

As illustrated in section 2, only NYC has a commute rate by mass transit greater than 50% and according to the US Department of Transportation, less than 5% of national commuting is by mass transit.

4.2  Social Solutions

4.2.1  Improved Quality and Availability of Mass Transit

A concerted effort with government investment and support to upgrade public mass transit systems in all the countries large cities to both improve the quality and image of this highly efficient mode of transport would improve overall fuel economy.

4.2.2  Improved Rail and Bus Links

Similarly, in less densely populated areas, upgrades of bus and rail networks would encourage people to use alternative and more efficient transportation.

4.3  Political Issues

4.3.1  Vested Business Interests (Oil, Vehicle Manufacturers, Trucking)

There will be resistance from those with a vested interest in the status quo from a business point of view.  The main groups that may strongly lobby against these reforms are the oil companies, conventional vehicle manufacturers and associated support businesses, and road freight contractors.  However, in the greater interest of the nation and the planet things must change.

(Note: Some vehicle manufacturers are developing alternative fuel vehicles)

4.3.2  Denial of Peak-Oil

There are many people who deny the near possibility of Peak-Oil.  They may genuinely believe this, or may just want to prolong a particular lifestyle.  Recent discoveries of new oil reserves are used as evidence that oil will remain plentiful.  However, eventually it will become uneconomical and scarce to meet the needs of the masses.

4.4  Environmental Issues

Each year the evidence linking mans consumption of fossil fuels to global warming and climate change becomes stronger.  The data set builds as more research is supported and carried out across the world.  Corroboration of data, theories and climate models appears to support this.

CO2 levels have reached 400 parts per million for the first time, recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii on 10 May 2013.

CO2 Atmos ppm GRAPH

This is a great cause for concern, which should motivate change in consumption habits alone.

5.0  Market Effects

Since the US is such a super consumer of oil, significant reductions to the degree discussed here will have an impact on global markets.  Furthermore, the USA is not alone in transitioning away from heavy dependence on oil as a transportation fuel.  The trend in developed countries has already begun in this direction.

If the USA converts in large enough numbers to alternative fuel sources over the next decade, along with Canada, Europe and Japan, demand for oil will drop, and so will the price.

Developing countries and regions with increasingly affluent populations may continue prop up the oil market, if they continue to adopt transportation modes which run on oil.

China, Russia, India and Brazil have growing economies and the demand for new vehicles and consumer goods in general is rising accordingly.  Eventually though, sustainability and indigenous energy factors will persuade all countries to limit reliance on oil.

The relative strengths of OECD reduction and BRIC and other developing regions increase in oil consumption will determine the overall consumption demand.  This is balanced against availability and extraction costs of harvesting oil.

5.1 World Oil Price Sensitivity 

The global price of oil is sensitive to fluctuations in supply and demand.  Historic data has shown this.  The figure, from WTRG Economics [5.0] below, shows how oil prices rose when supply was reduced and fell when supply was plentiful.

Crude Oil Prices 1947-2011 WTRG INFOGRAPH

 Global Crude Oil Prices (1947-2011)

As can be seen, various disturbances in parts of the world which are large producers of oil, such as the Suez crisis in Egypt (small effect in comparison to current prices, but significant at the time), both Gulf wars and the Iranian revolution caused prices to fluctuate.  Shortages caused by interrupted supply causes prices to rise, e.g. OPEC restrictions and Yom Kippur War embargo.  Over-production and supply causes prices to drop.

5.2  Oil Exploration and Extraction 

The oil boom of the 20th century has harvested the ‘low hanging fruit’, in depleting the easier to find and extract oil deposits on land and in areas of easy terrain close to consumer countries, like Texas.  Discoveries in the Middle East were at times unavailable to the markets due to political instability.  Offshore fields such as the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico were technically more difficult to locate and exploit, with increased production costs.

Recent shale field and tar sand discoveries have seen higher energy input requirements, and some additional processing steps to convert the crude to usable product.  So future deposits are likely to need more capital investment and carry more financial risk, before oil can be extracted.

Renewable technologies and alternative fuels are beginning to fall in price as they gain market share and consumers benefit from mass manufacture and economy of scale savings.


5.3  Future Oil Use

Burning oil as a fuel is environmentally undesirable and an unsatisfactory use of a finite resource.  Once transportation requirements have been met by more sustainable and eco-friendly sources such as wind, wave and solar, oil will be best used as a feedstock for materials in manufacturing industry.  

6.0  Summary

Here is a summary of the major energy issues identified in this paper.  Also summarized are, the major points made regarding the implementation of actions to transform petroleum consumption and recommended steps in the plan to transform US transportation fuel consumption over the coming decade.

Major US Energy Issues:

  • Worlds largest Consumer of Oil
  • Imported more than 12 billion barrels per day in 2005
  • Transportation Fuels – 70% of Consumption
  • Inefficient Vehicle Fleet
  • Majority of Freight by Road
  • Low Mass Transit Use
  • Excessive Air Travel

Actions to Transform Consumption:

  • Increase Public Awareness of Over Consumption
  • Encourage Efficient Driving Practice
  • Develop Alternative Fuel Vehicles
  • Develop Mass Transit in Urban Areas
  • Develop Biofuels
  • Transfer Freight to Railroads
  • Reduce Short-Haul Flights

Implementation Steps:

  • Run Information Campaigns in Media
  • Increase Funding for Alternative Fuel Technologies
  • Promote and Support Use of Mass Transit and Carpooling
  • Incentivise Business to Use Rail Freight
  • Discourage Marginal Flight Routes


[1.0] CIA World Factbook 2012

[1.1]  Institute of International Education. ‘Open Doors 2011’

[1.2] 1  NY Times Feb 23, 2012

[2.0] US EIA Data

[2.1] Breitbart, ‘US Oil Production sees largest increase in history.’, 13 June 2013

[2.2] Mining Weekly, 4 October 2012

[2.3] US DOE, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

[2.4] US DoT: Bureaau of Transportation Statistics, ‘National Household Travel Survey 2001’

[2.5] US EIA

[2.6] US Bureau of Labor Statistics ‘Beyond the Numbers’, May 2012

[2.7] Greenair, ‘Software Solutions’, 2 Oct 2012

[2.8] USA Today, ‘Heating Oil Use Falls’, 13 March 2011

[2.9] US EPA ‘Energy Tax Act.’  New cars are tax assessed according to their fuel economy.

[2.10] NPR Car Talk, ‘Guide to Better Fuel Economy’

[2.11] US DOE Fuel Cell System Cost, 21 Aug 2012

[2.12] Wikipedia, ‘Biofuel’

[2.13] US DOE Fuel Economy Guide 2013 ]

[2.14] US DOE, Summary of Fuel Economy Performance, 25 April 2013 ]

[5.0] WTRG Economics