By Robby Kile
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Transportation is the cornerstone of modern society. People are not always where they need to be. Goods are commonly produced where it is cheapest to produce them, not where they are most needed. Evidently, people and things need to go places for society to work. Transportation today is dominated by fossil fuels, making it a strong contributor to climate change. In order to continue transportation at current levels, something must be done to decarbonize movement of people and goods. Many exciting possibilities for carbon-neutral fuels exist, ranging from hydrogen fuel cells and synthetic fuels to electric cars charged using clean energy sources.
Both personal and commercial transportation represent fundamental needs of the modern world. According to the American Automobile Association, the average American drives 17,600 minutes per year, reaching around 10,000 miles annually. Whether going to work, visiting family over the holidays, or taking a cross-country road trip with friends, personal transportation is an essential facet of modern life. Personal travel barely scratches the surface of transportation. The more than 7 billion people living on the planet consume food, use tools, and drive vehicles produced around the globe, requiring shipment of raw materials and parts before products can be assembled and themselves transported. In the increasingly interconnected world, transportation will become ever-more important.
The benefits of and need for transportation are readily apparent. Unfortunately, transportation is also almost entirely powered by fossil fuels. The United States Energy Information Administration reports that 95 percent of all transportation energy is derived from fossil fuels, primarily petroleum.
Figure 1: Energy Sources used in Transportation, courtesy of the United States Energy Information Administration
A growing trend in the vehicle market today is the use of electric vehicles (EVs), which have gone up in number four-fold since 2013. The 2 million EVs