Clean Energy

Clean Transportation


Clean transportation encompasses the production and use of fuels derived from renewable sources in order to move people and products. These renewable fuels include sources of energy produced through bio-chemical processes, through electro-chemical extraction or conversion, through the use of multiple parallel systems to increase energy efficiency in transportation, and through the storage and mobile use of energy. At present, these clean transportation technologies can replace almost all traditional fossil fuel-derived transportation systems.
As of 2013, transportation accounted for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions[1]. This proportion continues to increase into the foreseeable future as developing economies have begun to meet increased domestic demand for foreign-made goods. However, the impact of current clean transportation technology is yet to be determined, and in many places around the world, these new technologies have exceeded expectations.

Scale of Resource

In Peru, the resources available for the development of clean transportation technologies and fuels are practically untouched and untapped. These include, as will be described below (Technology Types), the production of renewable petroleum products like bio-diesel, ethanol and renewable natural gas, and the use of renewable electricity either stored in batteries, used to convert and create other renewable fuels or used in a hybrid system. In all of these cases, Peru has an impressive array of potential resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and leverage exciting new transportation technologies.

Technology Types

Renewable Petroleum Products – Bio-Diesel and Ethanol

Bio-diesel and Ethanol are created through the process of combining plant-derived fats and oils with various forms of alcohol to produce renewable liquid hydrocarbons. These fuels can be derived from a variety of organic waste products, as well as an array energy crops like maize and sugarcane.
On of the most exciting aspects of bio-diesel production is in the ability to leverage as a renewable source of energy something that would otherwise be discarded as waste or ignored as a potential source of energy. Input products include used cooking oil, soybean oil and other refined vegetable oils, as well as grasses like switchgrass and sorghum[2]. Even more encouraging, waste-derived bio-diesel often accounts for lower life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and higher energy efficiency compared to energy crops[3][4]. Many countries with robust domestic production of bio-diesel have even mandated blends with petro-diesel to improve domestic fuel production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, mandates have been put in place for ethanol blends with gasoline as a way to increase renewable fuel use in passenger/light-duty vehicles.
Brazil, for example, is a global leader in the production of sugarcane-derived ethanol, which provides as much as half of the fuel for the domestic vehicle fleet[5]. Sugarcane ethanol has a fuel energy balance of 8 to 1. The fuel energy balance describes the difference in energy inputs to produce a fuel against the energy outputs of the use of the fuel. Accordingly, the higher the ratio, the better. This has allowed vehicle manufacturers in Brazil to access a large domestically-sourced fuel to sell their products, a significant advantage compared to countries where vehicle fuel must be imported. Compared to other types of ethanol production, such as from corn, which has a much lower fuel energy balance ratio of just 1.3 to 1, it is clear that some renewable sources are better than others[6].

Compressed Natural Gas

Renewable fuels derived from sustainable Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) production are yet another tool to improve transport fuel economics and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) can be used as a stand-alone fuel or blended with fossil fuel-derived CNG in a similar fashion to bio-diesel and ethanol fuels. And RNG is also derived predominantly from organic waste.
Photo below: Freight vehicle that uses CNG as fuel

Refined biogas is particularly well-suited for conversion into a transportation fuel for several reasons. First, surplus organic waste is found most often in urban settings where waste management infrastructure is most likely to exist. Second, local government entities closely associated with waste management entities have vehicle fleets of their own that could be made to utilize CNG as a fuel. And Finally, the economics of RNG favor local use compared to establishing a long-distance arrangement between production and utilization. This means that, as a strategy for increasing the production and utilization of RNG as a transportation fuel, local governments and municipalities can play a key role. Additionally, studies have shown that waste-derived RNG account for negative greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuel-derived CNG[7].
Photo below: CNG/RNG refueling station at the Dane County Landfill in Madison, Wisconsin.

Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Hydrogen used as a transportation fuel is most often achieved through the use of a hydrogen fuel cell. Energy from fuel cells is leveraged through an electrochemical reaction that converts the chemical energy, in this case of hydrogen, into electricity. Different from a battery, fuel cells rely on sustained source of fuel and oxygen (mostly from air) in order to function[8].
Hydrogen can be derived from a variety of sources and methods, but one of the most accessible options in Peru, given the sizable solar energy resource, is through electrolysis, using electricity as a catalyst to separate chemical elements. A source of hydrogen could include biogas or renewable natural gas (CH4) using electrolysis to free the hydrogen from the carbon.
Hydrogen fuel cells are becoming available for light-duty passenger vehicles and are expected to become available for heavy-duty vehicles in the coming years.

Hybrid Systems

These transportation systems involve the use of multiple systems in parallel to improve the overall energy efficiency of a vehicle. Most commercially prominent is the use of a traditional gasoline-powered generator alongside an electric drive-train. These hybrid systems have nearly doubled the fuel efficiency of light-duty vehicles and have recently seen success in heavy-duty vehicles.
Vehicle manufacturers have produced several models of hybrid vehicles, including Toyota’s Prius and GM’s Volt. In recent years, manufacturers have improved on the hybrid concept by introducing plug-in hybrid vehicles. As of 2010, nearly all major car manufacturers across the world were offering a hybrid model of their own.

Electric Vehicles

The most energy efficient transportation technology currently available is found in electric vehicles. Fully electric vehicles utilize a bank of batteries to provide stored power to an electric drivetrain. These systems, at present, are currently limited by the economics and performance of the onboard battery pack. However, as the cost of battery production decreases and the energy density increases, the cost of electric vehicles is expected to drop in the coming years. Many vehicle manufacturers are striving to be the first to offer a true consumer-level electric vehicle at a widely accessible market price that maintains a level of high performance. But it is not just price of the vehicles that is limiting electric vehicle adoption.
Photo below: Tesla Model S and BMW i3 at ACT Expo 2016 in Los Angeles, California

Refueling or charging infrastructure is still lacking in most places in the world, including in Peru and across Latin America. It is important to note that charging infrastructure could be setup to utilize the existing electricity grid, but in many places, including Peru, the existing electricity grid is powered by fossil fuels. The inclusion of these sources of energy diminishes the efficiency and emissions gains possible through the utilization of electric vehicles.
As is the case with the production of RNG, local governments and municipalities can play a key role in the build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure by making initial investments in these transportation systems. Public transport is a particularly attractive option for local governments to invest in electric vehicles. As recently as April of 2018, a project was launched to operate an electric bus in Lima, Peru[9]. This initial step is incredibly important to see more widespread exposure to and adoption of this new and promising technology.

Existing Infrastructure

Currently, Peru’s transportation fuel economy is dominated by petroleum industries, which remains a sizeable challenge for the country’s emissions profile but also for human health. Peru was ranked 12th among 98 countries included in a “Pollution Index” analysis, the highest of any country listed in the region[10]. Policymakers should, therefore, include the higher cost of health care in Peru necessary to treat illnesses that arise from poor air quality, which in Peru is predominantly (80%) a result of emissions from transportation[11].
Accordingly, there is very little clean transportation infrastructure currently in operation in Peru. The first CNG refueling station opened only in 2014 in Trujillo[12], a law mandated a 7.8% ethanol blend and a 5% bio-diesel blend in national fuels by 2010[13], and there is currently no information available on hydrogen refueling or electric vehicle charging stations.


Given the low build-out of clean transportation infrastructure, it is a great opportunity for Peru to develop an effective network of refueling and charging stations. And with the development of renewable energy systems like biogas systems and solar energy in key regions of the country, CNG fueling and electric vehicle charging could be considered an additional potential use of the energy resource to generate revenue for a project.
Particularly with the predominance of public transportation in Peru, and the relevant renewable energy resources available in and around urban areas, local governments could find a sizable renewable energy resource to tap into to transform their city’s public transportation infrastructure. This would serve as an important investment in not only clean energy in Peru but also in improving public health.


[1] Center for Climate and Energy Solutions –

[2] Dale, Bruce E. – “Grassoline in your tank: Why Cellulosic Ethanol is Nearer than You Think”

[3] Sam, Yoon Ki, et al. “Effects Of Canola Oil Biodiesel Fuel Blends On Combustion, Performance, And Emissions Reduction In A Common Rail Diesel Engine.” Energies (19961073) 7.12 (2014): 8132–8149. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. –

[4] Muralidharan, K. K.; Vasudevan, D. D. (2011). – “Performance, emission and combustion characteristics of a variable compression ratio engine using methyl esters of waste cooking oil and diesel blends” –

[5] Agência Brasil –

[6] Sanders, Robert – University of California-Berkeley –

[7] Argonne National Laboratory, Energy Systems Division – “Well-to-Wheels Analysis of Landfill Gas-Based

Pathways and Their Addition to the GREET Model”

[8] Khurmi, R. S. –

[9] Ermelinda Maglione, APRIL 23, 2018 – Living in Peru – “First Electric Bus Made in Peru will Serve Lima Very Soon”


[11] Peruvian Times – “World Health Organization Says Lima has Worst Air Pollution in LatAm”

[12] NGV Journal – “Peru: first compressed natural gas station opens in Trujillo” –

[13] Global –