We need fuels from renewable sources to meet the EU’s climate goals for the transport sector. Even in a heavily battery-powered transport scenario, e-fuels will still account for more than 70 percent of the EU’s final energy consumption across all modes of transport in 2050. Although currently very expensive, e-fuels will become more affordable. These are the core statements of a study by dena and LBST presented for the first time today at VDA.
The study, 'E-fuels – The potential of electricity-based fuels for low emission transport in the EU' investigated the future energy requirements of Europe's transport sector and hence the consequent need to expand the capacity for generating renewable energy. The findings were used as a basis to analyse the level of investment required to achieve a 95-percent reduction in transport-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
“Our study shows that we have to significantly broaden and intensify our environmental and transport policy efforts if we are to meet the EU’s climate goals in the transport sector. And e-fuels will play a key role here, essentially as a low emission fuel for air, maritime and road freight transport. Looking ahead however, private passenger vehicles will also require carbon-neutral liquid and gaseous fuels made from renewable electricity if we are serious about the climate goals for 2030 and beyond”, says Andreas Kuhlmann, dena's Chief Executive.
According to the study, Europe’s technological potential for renewable electricity production is currently sufficient to satisfy long-term demand for transport energy and e-fuels. However, this assumes there will be a massive expansion of electricity production from renewable sources.
The projected demand for renewable electricity for the entire EU transport sector in 2050 is about seven to ten times higher than the EU’s current annual renewable energy production volume. And e-fuel production would account for a good 80 percent of this”, explained Uwe Albrecht, Managing Director of Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik. Mr Albrecht also stated that an e-fuels roadmap is urgently required at the national, EU and international level to ensure capacity is available in good time and on a requisite scale.
E-fuels do not contradict the ramp-up of electromobility. “Wherever technically possible and ecologically meaningful, transport should be electrified or partially electrified. E-fuels will however be essential for transport applications in those cases that, from our present vantage point, will not be able to use an electric powertrain. Future mobility will therefore require a mix of different technologies. As the cradle of the automotive industry, Germany should not shun or even prohibit any of these technologies. Policymakers must set goals, but not prescribe how we get there”, said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). He also emphasised that, “Synthetic fuels mean we can continue to use existing petrol stations and engines. In this way, e-fuels impact the EU's entire vehicle stock, and not just newly registered vehicles. This makes it an effective lever for CO2 reduction, while opening up new options for the combustion engine.”
The study points out that e-fuels are currently in the development and pre-market phase and therefore substantially more expensive than their fossil alternatives. At present, e-fuels cost up to 4.5 euros per litre diesel equivalent. But experts suggest that imports from regions with substantial sun and wind capacity mean that costs of around 1 euro per litre diesel equivalent would appear feasible from today’s perspective. Policymakers and industry should therefore draw up a strategic agenda for technology and market development and e-fuel regulation. A cross-industry e-fuel platform would help to initiate and coordinate this process in good time.
Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena)
Deputy Head of Communications
Tel: +49 (0)30 66 777 - 610
Verband der Automobilindustrie e.V.
Head of Department Press
Tel.: +49 30 897 842 - 120
Dr Uwe Albrecht
Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH (LBST)
Tel: +49 89 608110 - 0