New Web Tool Helps Fleets Reduce Petroleum Use and Emissions

August 13, 2012

The Alternative Fuels Data Center is helping vehicle fleet managers make sense of the wide variety of alternative fuels and energy efficiency strategies available to reduce petroleum use, greenhouse gas emissions, and operating costs.

The Petroleum Reduction Planning Tool is an exploratory and interactive Web application that quantifies the benefits associated with a transition to any of five alternative fuels – biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, natural gas, and propane – and a variety of efficiency measures, like idle reduction and fuel economy improvements.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed the tool for the U.S. Department of Energy’s  Alternative Fuels Transportation Program, which works to reduce petroleum use by fleets.

“Fleets across the country are trying to reduce their vulnerability to fluctuating oil prices and are finding themselves increasingly subject to emissions limitations at the federal, state, and local levels,” NREL Project Manager Witt Sparks said. “This tool provides insights into which strategies will help them reach their desired and even required outcomes. A fleet manager can sit down in front of a single Web page, explore multiple scenarios, and know what the results will be before making any substantial investments.”

Users of the Petroleum Reduction Planning Tool explore options for a fleet by creating “what-if” scenarios: What if I replace 10 of my sedans with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles? What if I start using B20 biodiesel in my heavy-duty trucks? What if I convert my pickup trucks to run on natural gas or propane?

Easy-to-read charts and tables display annual reductions in emissions, petroleum use, and fuel costs for each scenario.

“This tool helps fleet managers allocate their resources in strategic ways and back up their decisions with solid data,” Sparks said.

Once a user decides on a set of measures by which a fleet can meet the desired goals, he or she can save the plan and revisit it as needed to make adjustments or continue to evaluate different scenarios. Fleet managers can also use the tool to learn more about measures to reduce petroleum use and emissions. Each section of the tool links to educational resources that provide helpful background on each efficiency strategy and alternative fuel.