Valuation of US Infrastructure Assets Related to Liquid Hydrocarbons and Transportation: With implications on the decarbonization of mobility and the grid as of Sept 2019

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Simmons, Richard A.
Metz, Keri
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In this brief report, we summarize existing asset values and investments for U.S. infrastructure related to liquid hydrocarbon transportation systems. This includes primarily assets in the hydrocarbon fuel supply chain as well as the engines and equipment that consume hydrocarbon fuels. The motivation prompting this effort is generally stated as a desire to better understand near-, medium-, and long-term pathways to decarbonize transportation. As such, this particular effort was a part of a broader scoping effort in which researchers with Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute sought to compare the economic viability of renewable hydrocarbons as a substitute for petroleum-derived fuels. This includes both biofuels and synthetically produced alternative fuels. Doing so is believed to help facilitate a more direct and holistic comparison of renewable fuels with other forms of sustainable transportation, such as electric vehicles (EVs). In short, the US hydrocarbon (HC) sector, broadly defined, comprises a large investment, upwards of 8.4 trillion dollars, out of a total U.S. infrastructure investment of about $37 trillion . Our HC infrastructure estimate excludes the parts of the transportation system that could be used with other vehicle propulsion systems, such as roads, but includes the petroleum refining industry, as well as publicly and privately owned vehicles in the U.S. fleet that rely on internal combustion engines. So called “upstream” or “supply side assets” are defined to liquid hydrocarbon support infrastructure (e.g., refineries, pipelines, storage assets). These account for about 40% of the total. So called “downstream” or fuel consuming devices are defined to include engines and the broad category of equipment that uses them. This segment account for the remaining 60% of HC sector assets. Separately, initial estimates suggest that the replacement value of the U.S. electric grid is about 4.8 trillion dollars.
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