EC Receives Report: Alternative Fuels Could Replace Fossil Fuels in Europe by 2050

| Europe

First comprehensive approach for transport sector

Alternative fuels have the potential to gradually replace fossil energy sources and make transport sustainable by 2050, according to a report presented to the European Commission by the stakeholder expert group, including NGVA Europe, on future transport fuels. The EU will need an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply for transport by 2050 due to the need to reduce its impact on the environment and concerns about the security of energy supply. The expert group has for the first time developed a comprehensive approach covering the whole transport sector.

Expected demand from all transport modes could be met through a combination of electricity (batteries or hydrogen/fuel cells) and biofuels as main options, synthetic fuels (increasingly from renewable resources) as a bridging option, methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuel, and LPG as supplement.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “If we are to achieve a truly sustainable transport, then we will have to consider alternative fuels. For this we need to take into account the needs of all transport modes.”

The Commission is currently revising existing policies and the report will feed into the “initiative on clean transport systems”, to be launched later this year. The initiative intends to develop a consistent long-term strategy for fully meeting the energy demands of the transport sector from alternative and sustainable sources by 2050.

According to the report, alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to decarbonise transport, by gradually substituting fossil energy sources. Technical and economic viability, efficient use of primary energy sources and market acceptance, however, will be decisive for a competitive acquisition of market share by the different fuels and vehicle technologies.

It also says there is no single candidate for fuel substitution. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will most likely require the use of a mix of fuels which can be produced from a large variety of primary energy sources. There is broad agreement that all sustainable fuels will be needed to fully meet the expected demand.

Different modes of transport require different options of alternative fuels. Fuels with higher energy density are more suited to longer-distance operations, such as road freight transport, maritime transport, and aviation. Compatibility of new fuels with current technologies and infrastructure, or the need for disruptive system changes should be taken into account as important factors, determining in particular the economics of the different options.

Report of the European expert group on future transport fuels:

This item primarily compiled using information supplied by the European Commission.

Comments from NGVA Europe

NGVA Europe, the only stakeholder for Bio Natural Gas vehicles out of 50 participating organisations, noted that the report contained nearly all its contributions. Emphasizing the fuel’s diversity the most important contributions include:

  • Methane can be used in established combustion engines and diesel/gas mix compression ignition engines.
  • Performances are fully equivalent to petrol or diesel units, but with improved environmental and technological benefits.
  • With minor modifications natural gas engines can reach EURO 6/VI emission level values.
  • LNG has applications for ships and heavy duty road transport vehicles, through dual-fuel and dedicated engine technology.
  • EU-wide road and marine fuelling infrastructure, with refuelling stations along all major highways and also in urban areas, and bunkering facilities in ports, is crucial for a broad market uptake.
  • Remote areas can be serviced by road transportation of CNG and LNG.
  • A 5% market share for CNG/LNG vehicles could be possible by 2020, with some 15 million vehicles, proving through 2030 and beyond.
  • A market share of 20 % of natural gas in transport fuels would allow a 5 % reduction of the CO2 emissions from all European vehicles; if 20 % of the gas used consisted of biomethane the CO2 reduction would increase to 7 %.

Additional comment available on the NGVA Europe website.

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