EcoEngineers on the Future of Green Fleet
As part of our “5 Questions on the Future of Green Fleet” series, we discussed the future of sustainable fuels with Shashi Menon, the Managing Partner for EcoEngineers, a Des Moines, IA based independent engineering/software firm that specializes in developing processes and technologies that result in more responsible environmental stewardship and energy independence from fossil fuels.
Q: Tell us more about EcoEngineers.
A: EcoEngineers is an independent engineering & software firm, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. We provide comprehensive compliance management, market data and facility planning services for biofuel companies operating under US regulations.
We have advised over 200 companies on compliance matters related to US environmental fuel credits (RINS) and registered them with the USEPA to participate in US markets. Our web-based software platform manages transactional data and compliance data for regulated parties. We offer a biofuel Quality Assurance Program – the first of its kind in the US – and currently qualify over 500 million gallons of biofuel plate capacity. Finally, we operate an index that offers a daily volume weighted average price of US environmental fuel credits (RINS). EcoEngineers’ value offerings fall within the following categories:
- Regulations & Policy: Compliance management, facility planning, federal liaison, policy guidance, new feedstock/pathways, verifying waste streams and waste to fuel processes
- Renewable Fuel Credits (RINs & LCFS): Quality assurance program (RINQAP), compliance software, price indexing and trends, CAGREET analysis
- Engineering: Design reviews, RFS reviews, process improvements, permitting and installation, feasibility studies
- Software Solutions: Traceability systems, Satellite imaging, GIS analysis, Compliance automation, Data management/warehousing
Contact us at the link above, or call us 515.309.1279.
Q: What do you see as the top 3 challenges to growing a sustainable fleet?
A: They are, in order:
- Keeping up with Information – Fleet managers need to know the latest available technology, federal and state policies incentives, availability of fuel and fueling infrastructure and much more.
- Making the case for sustainability- Sustainability should be part of the overall mission and goals of the company. Then it is easier to see how a sustainable fleet fits in with the overall goals of the company and to justify making any required capital expense.
- Calculating the proper ROI- The initial expense must be justified through a proper ROI calculation that minimally includes savings from technology or fuel changes, available carbon credits from federal and state regulations and any intangibles from green marketing. A thorough evaluation is very important.
Q: Between hybrid, electric, biofuel, natural gas, propane, and dual-fuel do you see a leader emerging?
A: It is difficult and counter-productive to pick winners at this stage. All of the above have their strengths and their niche markets. There is so much room for growth that we could see a scenario with multiple leaders. We are seeing a lot of growth in renewable fuel supply – renewable electricity, biofuel and renewable natural gas supply is growing due to federal and state policies that are driving investments into the supply side. The demand side will naturally grow in line with the increasing supply when it makes economic sense.
Q: 5 years ago, where did you expect green fleet and alternative fuels to be by now; and where do you see it in 3 years?
A: The sector is still in its infancy. Renewable fuel supply will continue to grow over the next three years and prices will drop. Only fuels that can sell at a discount to conventional fuels will make it in the marketplace. Liquid fuels that can be blended with or be a substitute for petroleum fuels have a distribution system already in place. Other distribution systems – charging stations, CNG stations, etc.are growing faster than ever. Auto makers will try to be first movers in providing alternatives to conventional fueling systems.
Q: How can politicians help or hurt the advances that green fleet has made so far?
Stable policy is crucial to the successful adoption of sustainable industry practices. Policy must understand the underlying drivers of change, must not pick winners and must be long-term in vision. Policy initiatives from the EPA and the IRS were both important in building ethanol and biodiesel production and distribution infrastructure. Similarly we are seeing growth in natural gas and electricity due to federal and regional policies. Policy stability and green credits are critical to successful projects.
Q: What is the one technology, issue, opportunity or problem that the industry is either under- or over-estimating?
A: The sustainable fueling industry needs to build better coalitions across stakeholders. Most stakeholders would agree on the same general common goals for sustainable growth: to lower emissions, to create jobs, to diversify our energy mix, to achieve fuel efficiency, etc. Nevertheless, different groups emphasize different aspects of these common goals to such an extent that their message becomes too narrowly defined, denouncing all alternative viewpoints. If we can agree upon a common framework to articulate the areas mentioned above, then we can develop better policies, evaluate new technologies faster and make progress more efficiently.Click here for reuse options!
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