Streamlining the transition to EVs and alternative fuels
The transportation industry is in the early days of a dramatic and revolutionary change. New powertrain technologies and fuel sources from electric to hydrogen and CNG are not only fundamentally reshaping how vehicles are produced, but fundamentally reshaping the infrastructure required to unlock everyday use in the environment around us.
OEMs, fleets and especially utilities have a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape this new frontier.
While it is still early days, the electric vehicle is here to stay. To capture the benefits this technology brings – from reduced emissions that protect human health and the environment to reduced operating costs with greater efficiency, the public and public institutions that underpin the supply chain must reinvent themselves – and quickly.
Utilities hold the rights to electricity, the fuel source for this next generation or vehicles, but the challenge has flipped from a grid that must account for distributed energy resource supply to reconciling significant new demand centers from EVs. A utility must be able to confidently dissect the nuances of each transportation segment and the vicarious scales and behaviors of enterprises operating within them to make accommodating infrastructure investments accordingly. At the same time, transportation operators must gain confidence in how to approach electric conversion plans at all stages of the process; from long-term strategy, near-term capacity mapping, depot planning and electrical upgrades to equipment selection that spans new OEMs for vehicles, chargers and networking – all of which must closely match existing duty cycles. ADL is here to help each key player best integrate with this new ecosystem.
Beyond electric, where heavy duty vehicles face the largest barriers to adoption, alternative fuels present an opportunity for fleets to achieve lower operating costs and make sustainability impacts faster.
As a fossil fuel, the high carbon footprint of natural gas is well documented, especially when extracted through intensive methods like fracking. By contrast, RNG is equivalent to biogas as it is derived from the decomposition of organic matter. As it can be collected from biological operations like landfills, sewage treatment plants and food waste, RNG is a pipeline quality, net-zero alternative to conventional gas products that can fuel combustion engine fleet vehicles with minimal equipment conversion.
Similarly, green hydrogen can be produced using electrolysis powered by clean generation sources like hydro, solar and wind. The resulting fuel can be used to power EV drive trains using fuel cells (FCVs). Because RNG and green hydrogen can both utilize existing natural gas distribution systems, there are massive efficiency gains in leveraging existing infrastructure.
All told, whether its electric, green hydrogen or RNG, the future of transportation and mobility will increasingly be based on these technologies and offer first movers a chance to be more sustainable and efficient while creating massive new growth opportunities at each stage of the supply chain.
ADL Clean Transportation Leadership
Chris wears a CMO hat with ADL Ventures and leads its energy and utilities practice. A serial entrepreneur, Chris previously worked in energy and transportation strategy consulting and helped launch the product marketing function at EnerNOC (now Enel X), where he was responsible for demand response and energy supply procurement. Chris has an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and an MBA (with honors) from the University of Chicago (Booth).
Frank Yang is a Partner at ADL Ventures and the Founder / CEO of Liatris, an advanced insulation materials startup which is developing the only fully non-flammable insulation board in the industry, and has an easy-to-install, robust technology well-suited to modern construction practices. Frank became inspired to help scale up ADL’s open innovation offerings after Liatris went through the ADL’s US DOE-funded Building Materials Challenge as an applicant, and currently leads ADL’s DOE-related activities, in particular the ABC Collaborative. Frank previously spent 10+ years in the solar industry as a co-founder of Stion, a US solar panel manufacturer and systems integrator. He ran all commercial operations for the company, raising >$500M in funding and selling out a 150 MW annual capacity production line. Frank received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Economics from Amherst College.
Tod Hynes is an energy entrepreneur focused on solving one of the most immediate and challenging problems in energy – our dependence on petroleum for transportation. He has core expertise in assessing alternative energy opportunities and forming and guiding cross discipline teams to solve complex problems. Tod is committed to reducing emissions and reliance on fossil fuels through fostering energy innovation.
Nigel is a strategy specialist that transforms innovation into execution. He has founded and scaled early stage companies in energy and agriculture, concentrating on operations and product development. Nigel was part of the founding team at several startups including Flow Kana, Qorax (“Qor-ah”) and Brightfields, where he developed and commissioned 60MW of utility-scale solar projects. He is an Echoing Green Climate Fellow and was named a National Geographic Energy Innovator. Nigel received his BA from Amherst College and studied Photovoltaics at the Smith College Picker Engineering Program.
Case study: Spinning Out a New Business Model from a Leading Public EV Company
How to streamline operations to create near-term revenue while eliminating distractions and preserving the upside of early progress on new divisions.
Electric Vehicles: Cost Savings Perspective
With transportation accounting for the largest portion of US annual greenhouse gas emissions, electrifying the sector is a critical step to reducing U.S. emissions at scale. In a previous article, we calculated the major cost savings associated with EV ownership but dissected existing barriers to widespread EV adoption such as high upfront costs and range anxiety. Given unprecedented shifts in the transportation sector during the pandemic and post-IRA passage, this article presents the updated economic calculus of substituting an ICE vehicle for an EV.
Repurposing Natural Gas Lines: The Hydrogen Opportunity
Call it a crisis or call it an opportunity – but it’s clear that the gas supply chain faces strong winds in its future. The winners in the energy transition will be those who shift their sails early and catch the winds blown by shifting regulations, policies and customer preferences.