More cities and counties in California are switching to renewable diesel and biodiesel fuels for their diesel-engined vehicles, according to panelists today at the League of California Cities annual conference. During a session led by the Diesel Technology Forum, experts from the City of Oakland, Calif., and Neste US Inc. shared insights into the substantial benefits gained by pairing the newest generation of diesel technology with renewable bio-based diesel fuels.

“New, advanced bio-based diesel fuels offer state and city leaders new opportunities to put existing and readily available equipment to work, reliably and cost-effectively delivering essential public services alongside clean air and climate progress,” said Ezra Finkin, director of policy and external outreach for the Diesel Technology Forum, and moderator of the League of California Cities panel. “Near-zero emissions diesel engines are a proven asset for city leaders to deliver the level of public services, health and safety that the public demands. When paired with renewable diesel fuel, cities can achieve greenhouse gas reduction benefits in a way that doesn’t put undue strain on city resources and sacrifice essential city services. Upgrading a city or county’s oldest and most-used vehicles and equipment to the newest-generation of diesel technology is the fastest, most cost-effective way for cities to reduce emissions and meet climate goals.”

Many cities in California – Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego and others – now exclusively use renewable diesel fuel in city-owned heavy-duty trucks, buses and equipment. These cities are reaping the cost savings and emission reductions delivered by combining new-generation diesel engines with renewable diesel fuel. For example: the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency removed more than 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in a single year, just by using renewable diesel fuel in 632 transit buses. More locations in California continue to offer this fuel, making it increasingly more available to truckers and fleet drivers.

“Demand for cleaner, low-carbon fuels is on the rise globally, and California cities are leaders in the movement toward an emissions-free future,” said Jeremy Baines, president of Neste US Inc. “Neste MY Renewable Diesel fuel helps meet environmental needs without compromising on cost or vehicle performance.”

According to recent data from the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program, biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel delivered the California’s biggest reduction in transportation-related sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, California’s use of these fuels in diesel engines eliminated 4.3 million tons of CO2. Since the LCFS program began in 2011, biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel have eliminated more than 18 million tons of CO2. These air quality improvements exceeded those delivered by electric cars and trucks. “If it weren’t for these advanced diesel fuels, California would not have achieved its 2020 climate goals in 2018,” said Finkin. “Had California depended only on emerging, alternative technologies to deliver on these goals, the state would still be waiting.”

Over the last decade, almost everything about diesel technology has changed. Today’s diesel engines are near zero in emissions: they nearly eliminate particulate matter (PM) emissions – more than a 95 percent reduction from older generations of the technology; cut nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by up to 90 percent; lower hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by 50 to 90 percent; and reduce soot emissions by 10 percent. “The most effective applications for diesel engines are also the biggest and longest-lasting,” said Finkin. “Upgrading to the newest-generation diesel engines in trucks, large construction and agricultural equipment, locomotives and marine vessels is often most effective way to reduce emissions, quickly and on a budget. In many of these cases, diesel is also the only available technology – and will be for the foreseeable future.”

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