Low Carbon Fuel Standard

Fuels and Transportation Division Emerging Fuels and Technologies Office


The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is administered by the California Air Resources Board. Established In 2007 through a Governor’s Executive Order, it uses a market-based cap and trade approach to lowering the greenhouse gas emissions from petroleum-based transportation fuels like reformulated gasoline and diesel.

The LCFS requires producers of petroleum-based fuels to reduce the carbon intensity of their products, beginning with a quarter of a percent in 2011 culminating in a 10 percent total reduction in 2020. Petroleum importers, refiners and wholesalers can either develop their own low carbon fuel products, or buy LCFS Credits from other companies that develop and sell low carbon alternative fuels, such as biofuels, electricity, natural gas or hydrogen.

The LCFS has several principal elements. First, it establishes a life cycle-scale assessment of the carbon content for each fuel used in the LCFS. This method captures the energy used to create each fuel from the initial point of extraction or cultivation, to transport, to refining, to distribution to the final point of sale. The GREET model, (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation) is used to calculate the carbon intensity value of each fuel. GREET was developed by the Argonne National Laboratory. This “carbon intensity value” is expressed in terms of grams of CO2-equivalent per mega joule of energy. The carbon intensity value has a direct emissions and indirect emissions component. All carbon intensity values are reported in the “LCFS Lookup Table,” which is available in their current regulation (California Code of Regulations, title 17, section 95480 and following) or on the LCFS website.

Second, the LCFS establishes an implementation schedule. 2010 was a reporting year, while 2011 was the first year of formal implementation where petroleum fuel producers and importers had to reduce the carbon content of their fuel by a quarter of a percent. The reduction requirements will increase steadily to the full 10 percent reduction in 2020.

The LCFS program also has a registry of alternative fuel producers who have submitted all appropriate documentation and are eligible to participate in the LCFS Credit Market and sell or trade credits for their low carbon alternative fuel products.

The ARB has initiated a Quarterly Report, which describes the carbon reduction obligation for the petroleum industry and describes the relative carbon debits and credits for the industry.

The University of California Berkeley and Davis campuses have played a major role in supporting the establishment and implementation of the LCFS.


Reports

University of California

A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California, Part 2: Policy Analysis - FINAL REPORT, University of California Project Managers: Alexander E. Farrell, UC Berkeley; Daniel Sperling, UC Davis. Posted: 8/2/07. (Acrobat PDF, 96 pages, 442 kilobytes)

University of California News Release. Posted: 8/2/07. (Acrobat PDF, 4 pages, 28 kilobytes)

A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California, Part 1: Technical Analysis - FINAL REPORT, University of California Project Managers: Alexander E. Farrell, UC Berkeley; Daniel Sperling, UC Davis. Posted: 5/30/07. (Acrobat PDF, 179 pages, 1.0 megabytes)

"Getting the Carbon Out", San Francisco Chronicle, Open Forum article by Alex Farrell and Daniel Sperling, Friday, May 18, 2007, page B-11. (PDF file, 3 pages, 80 kb).
Also available on S.F. Gate on line at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/18/EDGKOP3EFJ1.DTL&hw=Getting+the+Carbon+Out&sn=001&sc=1000


Energy Commission

(REVISED) Full Fuel Cycle Assessment: Well to Wheels Energy Inputs, Emissions and Water Impacts: State Plan to Increase the Use of Non-Petroleum Transportation Fuels - AB 1007 (Pavley) Alternative Transportation Fuels Plan Proceeding, REVISED Final Consultant Report #CEC-600-2007-004-REV. Original posted June 22, 2007; revised posted August 1, 2007. (PDF file, 165 pages, 1.5 megabytes)

Fuel Cycle Assessment: Well-To-Tank Energy Inputs, Emissions and Water Impacts - DRAFT CONSULTANT REPORT, publication # CEC-600-2007-002-D, posted February 16, 2007. (PDF file, 243 pages, 2.8 megabytes)

Fuel Cycle Assessment: Tank-To-Wheels Emissions and Energy Consumption - DRAFT CONSULTANT REPORT, publication # CEC-600-2007-003-D, posted February 16, 2007. (PDF file, 102 pages, 426 kb)

Full Fuel Cycle Assessment: Well to Wheels Energy Inputs, Emissions and Water Impacts - DRAFT CONSULTANT REPORT, publication # CEC-600-2007-004-D, posted February 22, 2007. (PDF file, 104 pages, 3.1 megabytes)

California Alternative Fuels Market Assessment 2006 - DRAFT CONSULTANT REPORT, publication # CEC-600-2006-015-D, posted October 6, 2006. (PDF file, 149 pages, 1.2 megabytes)