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New funded research in Collaboration with IIASA, Vienna, Austria: The Interplay Between Consumer Preferences for Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Energy Supply

Future mass deployment of Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFV) requires investment in infrastructure and technology. To prepare for the penetration of the different technologies and their adoption, one would have to understand consumer behavior, demand patterns, and the factors affecting the transition to using such vehicles. The purpose of the proposed study is to examine the diffusion consequences for various AFVs in Israel and their implications on energy and the environment. These vehicles include electric, hydrogen and natural gas technologies. A key focus of the research will be to analyze the future natural gas system and examine the implications of using natural gas directly in private vehicles versus converting it to synthetic liquids, electricity or hydrogen for use by other vehicles. The theoretical framework of the research is based, on the one hand, on methodologies for identifying consumer preferences using stated preferences choice modeling to better estimate demand, and on the other hand, the use of integrative energy models, in this case the MESSAGE model that Israel began to implement in cooperation with IIASA. This will allow understanding the significance of demand from private transportation on the energy and technological supply side. 

This research is possible thanks to the generous support and cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection.



Electric vehicles in private transportation


The Israeli transport sector in general is responsible for about 19% of the energy consumption, which is based to large extent on imported fossil energy sources, such as oil and refined petroleum products. For strategic, economic and environmental reasons, the state of Israel has decided to diversify its sources of energy for transportation

The new gas discoveries in Israel, along with the technological development worldwide, allow switching transportation to alternative energy sources such as electricity and gas which become viable options. While there is a vast knowledge around the world on the environmental impact of energy production and consumption for transportation, policy makers in Israel face luck of information in the Israeli context. Moreover, anticipated future usage of natural gas can impact the great debate taking place in Israel these days on the possibility of exporting the natural gas resources recently discovered. In this research we made adaptation of published literature worldwide in this field to the Israeli case study.


The research examined different environmental impacts of various energy alternative sources for private transportation in Israel. Using ‘Life Cycle Assessment’ methodology we compare Electric Vehicle, GTL and Methanol85 fuel cycles versus traditional petrol and diesel. We examine the full life cycle from the primary energy source along the life cycle of fuel and vehicle value chain, also known as ‘Well to Wheel’ approach. Our analysis addresses a number of elements such as energy efficiency, use of water resources, land use, waste generated, GHG emissions and other air emissions. These quantitative values are further translated into economic values.


We identified real trades-off between alternatives. Our results revealed that with the current Israeli electricity mix, for the EV option, although its better energy efficiency, the GHG emission are still close to emissions from the existing supply chain of petrol and diesel. Nevertheless, shifting the energy production in Israel towards more renewable energy will reduce GHG emissions significantly. However this option requires more land use. As for methanol and GTL, it was found that the future supply chain planned to be built will be very energy intensive and therefore will cause relatively high GHG emissions.


By translating our results into economical values, we could identify the total external cost of the different fuel alternatives and to prioritize them according to minimum environmental impact. In addition, LCA analysis enabled us to identify critical points in the production process and recommend on technological changes that improve the results.


Implementation of our recommendations will lead to more efficient use of energy resources in general and transportation resources in particular. The results help to formulate and implement policy proposals concerning transport infrastructure, energy and environmental protection, hence minimizing environmental damage in the long term. It is anticipated that the results of our research will be integrated into the energy master plan for Israel.


Spatial and Topological Diffusion of Electrical Vehicles in Urban Environments


This study proposes a theoretic agent-based model to support analysis and decision making regarding the success of EV diffusion in urban spaces. The model captures interactions between consumer agents that make the actual adoption decision, vehicle provider agents that influence the supply and demand of these vehicles and the infrastructure provider needed to create the charging infrastructure, and can be used to simulate EV diffusion in different contexts and locations. It integrates personal, social and environmental considerations, complex behavior at the individual and system level, and produces an output of resulting environmental and spatial impacts. The Israeli case study of EV diffusion is also presented as a possible implementation of the model.



The accelerated rate of car purchase in low income countries and worldwide has turned the transportation sector to one of the central culprits to global GHG emissions and air pollution. According to its protagonists, electrification of the urban bus system offers an opportunity to promote the three main strategies for sustainable transportation, and to integrate it within a new sustainable energy grid: Electric buses incentivize a more public transit oriented urban design, encourage a more widespread use of the public transport system instead of individual cars, and eliminate tailpipe emissions while facilitating the transformation to renewable energy production (UITP). 


However, in its initial stages, electric bus technology requires active efforts among policy makers, bus operators, planners and the public in order to gain equal standing as a viable alternative to existing bus fleets on the one hand, and to private transport investment on the other.


National and local governments are expected to facilitate new vehicle purchase, install charging stations or feed-in infrastructure, plan and authorize changes in the built environment as well as codes and regulations, and support academic and commercial research and development initiatives. While such efforts have been evident globally, China presents an interesting case in point, as its government has been planning for a massive electrification effort in its public transport fleets in 2010-2020, as a precursor for private plug-in electric vehicle market penetration thereafter (Luo et al., 2011).


Furthermore, the bus industry has proven over the years to be a convenient test bed for new fuels and power technologies, as it led to the adoption of new solutions such as compressed natural gas. Bus fleets’ centralized storage, maintenance and powering and its regular routes facilitate planning and implementation of vehicle replacement and infrastructure installation. While they often face budgetary constraints, especially in municipal arenas, subsidies from national governments supported by the public and environmental agencies can encourage innovation and experimentation with electric power drives (Ealey, 2008).


In fact, electric powered vehicles (EVs) are already an integral part of public transportation systems around the world, albeit in different forms: Battery electric buses, trolley buses, trams, metro, and light rail are all in use, varying in infrastructure, technologies, costs and capacity (Barrero, 2008). 


The research describes the first steps in modelling the bus electrification process through an agent based model. The model is based on two distinct case studies: New electric bus fleets in the Netherlands and In Israel. The model aims at gaining insights that may help policy makers in local and national government, as well as public transport operators, in their decision to embark on the electrification process. It focuses on the economic, environmental, and operational aspects of their multi time-step decision, and estimates the impact of different institutional settings and policy tools on system performance, expansion and impact.


Furthermore, the model ventures into new territory in agent based modelling by incorporating the policy process within the model rather than as an exogenous factor that produces given outputs. This requires an interdisciplinary analysis, bringing together theories and methodologies from political science (Kingdon, 1984; Lindblom & Woodhouse, 1993; Ostrom, 2007); consumer behaviour (Azjen, 1991), and technological diffusion (Kiesling et al., 2012), building on recent innovations in institutional analysis in agent based models (Ghorbani et al., 2013). 


The research on electric mobility was possible thanks to the generous support and cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Energy.


Papers and Reports

Tchetchik A., Zvi L., Sigal Kaplan S., Blass V. “The joint effect of driving hedonism and 'trialability' on the choice between internal combustion engines, hybrid and electric vehicles: the hidden segment of environmentalist-hedonists”,  available online December 19, 2019,  in Technological Forecasting and Social Change journal.


Blass V. and Portugali Y. (2016). “Diffusion of Mass E-Mobility in Urban Areas”, Final research report number MONI - RD-27-16 submitted to the Israeli Ministry of Energy, Israel  

Blass V. and Portugali Y. (2017). “Electrifying Public Transport In Complex Urban Systems: The Case Of Buses In The City”, Final research report number MONI - RD-21-17 submitted to the Israeli Ministry of Energy, Israel 

Encarnacao S., Santos F.P, Santos F.C, Blass V., Jorge M. Pacheco J.M., and Portugali J. 2018. “Paths to the Adoption of Electric Vehicles: An Evolutionary Game Theoretical Approach”, Transportation Research Part B 113: 24-33

Conferences & Lectures

Blumenfeld-Lieberthal E., Blass V., Ofeck E., Mahler U., Portugali J.” Spatial and Topological Diffusion of Electrical Vehicles in Urban Environment”, European Conference on Complex Systems, Lucca, Italy, September 2014


Benzion R., Blass V., Shiftan Y. “Energy Resources for Transportation in Israel 2020”, Intentional Society for Industrial Ecology 2015 conference, UK, July 2015.

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