Numerous analyses exist which examine the energy, environmental, and economic tradeoffs between conventional gasoline vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen produced from a variety of sources. These analyses are commonly referred to as "E3" analyses because of their inclusion of Energy, Environmental, and Economic indicators. Recent research as sought a means to incorporate social Equity into E3 analyses, thus producing an "E4" analysis. However, E4 analyses in the realm of energy policy are uncommon, and in the realm of alternative transportation fuels, E4 analyses are extremely rare.
This dissertation discusses the creation of a novel E4 simulation tool usable to weigh energy, environmental, economic, and equity trade-offs between conventional gasoline vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles, with specific application to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The model, dubbed the F uel Life-cycle Analysis of Solar Hydrogen – Energy, Environment, Economic & Equity model, or FLASH-E4, is a total fuel-cycle model that combines energy, environmental, and economic analysis methodologies with the addition of an equity analysis component. The model is capable of providing results regarding total fuel-cycle energy consumption, emissions production, energy and environmental cost, and level of social equity within a population in which low-income drivers use CGV technology and high-income drivers use a number of advanced hydrogen FCV technologies.
Using theories of equity and social indicators conceptually embodied in the Lorenz Curve and Gini Index, the equity of the distribution of societal energy and environmental costs are measured for a population in which some drivers use CGVs and other drivers use FCVs. It is found, based on baseline input data representative of the United States (US), that the distribution of energy and environmental costs in a population in which some drivers use CGVs and other drivers use natural gas-based hydrogen FCVs can be moderately inequitable. However, the distribution of energy and environmental costs in a population in which some drivers use CGVs and other drivers use solar-electrolysis-based FCVs can be extremely inequitable. Further, it is found that the method of production and delivery of hydrogen (i.e. centralized production or refueling station-based production) can have an impact on the equity of energy and environmental costs.
The implications of these results are interesting, in that wealthy people purchase FCVs that have high upfront costs and very low societal energy and environmental costs. Simultaneously, however, low-income people purchase CGVs that have low upfront costs and very high societal energy and environmental costs. In this situation, due to the high-polluting nature of CGV technology in relation to FCV technology, CGV drivers account for more than their equitable share of energy and environmental costs.
Scenarios are conducted which explore modifications of assumptions, such as the price of oil, price of natural gas, cost to offset emissions, consumer purchase price of FCVs, and the level of taxation on the cost streams. Among other findings, it is found that altering the purchase price of an FCV has the greatest impact on social equity whereas altering the cost to offset fuel-cycle emissions has the least impact, indicating that policy mechanisms aimed at incentivizing FCVs may have a more positive impact on social equity than policies aimed at mitigating emissions. Based on the results of the scenario analysis, policy recommendations are formulated which seek to maximize social equity in populations in which not all drivers use the same vehicular technology. The policies, if implemented as a single portfolio, would assist a systematic deviation away from the fossil fuel energy economy while ensuring that social equity is preserved to the greatest degree possible. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)