North Carolina's Growing Strengths: The Solar Center's Clean Transportation Projects

Celebrating 25 years at N.C. State University, the N.C. Solar Center continues its commitment to outreach, demonstration, and deployment of technology and policy solutions for a sustainable energy future. One  project led by the Clean Transportation team aims to enhance the distribution and use of biodiesel and E85, an 85-percent ethanol blend, to reduce transportation-related emissions in the 24 North Carolina counties that do not meet national air-quality standards. With $6.2 million in funding from the N.C. Department of Transportation, the third phase of the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) project will include grant opportunities for biodiesel and E85 infrastructure. Past funding has supported E85 dispensers at retail and government locations, as well as biodiesel-blending equipment at a petroleum terminal and the expansion of B100 at biodiesel co-ops. A call for applications for a new round of projects is anticipated before the end of 2013.

Another exciting endeavor is the Alternative Fuel Implementation Team (AFIT) project, a collaborative effort between the N.C. Solar Center, North Carolina’s three Clean Cities Coalitions, and coalitions in Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the two-year project will lead the development of an alternative fuel-implementation toolkit for fleet managers, which will include chapters on biodiesel and E85. To that end, the coalition in Asheville organized a biodiesel charrette, also sponsored by the Biofuels Center of North Carolina and attended by 29 stakeholders, which identified actions to be undertaken by the AFIT team to expand biodiesel use. These barrier-buster activities include establishing a workgroup to review educational materials and a partnership between local biodiesel producers, vehicle technicians, and auto dealers to help dispel persistent myths about biodiesel’s performance and use. On 19 November 2013, the Solar Center will host a half-day charrette in Raleigh to identify specific actions that support E85 use. The Solar Center will also host the Southeast Alternative Fuels Conference and Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center on 22-24 October 2014.

To learn more, visit www.cleantransportation.org.