Impact of Emerging Clean Vehicle System on Water Stress
While clean vehicles (i.e., vehicles powered by alternative fuels other than fossil fuels) offer great potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline-based vehicles, the associated impact on water resources has not yet been fully assessed. This research provides a systematic evaluation of the impact of a fully implemented clean vehicle system on national and state-level water demand and water stress. On the national level, based on existing policies, transitioning the current gasoline-based transportation into one with clean vehicles will increase national annual water consumption by 1950–2810 billion gallons of water, depending on the market penetration of electric vehicles. On the state level, variances of water efficiency in producing different fuels are significant. The fuel choice for clean vehicle development is especially crucial for minimizing water stress increase in states with already high water stress, high travel demands, and significant variations in water efficiency in producing different alternative fuels. Current development of clean vehicle infrastructure, however, has not reflected these state-level variations. This study takes an optimization approach to further evaluate impacts on state-level water stress from a fully implemented clean vehicle system and identified potential roles (fuel producer or consumer) states may play in real world clean vehicle development scenario. With an objective of minimizing overall water stress impact, our optimization model aims to provide an analytical framework to better assess impacts on state-level water resources due to clean vehicle deployment.