Transport in the EU still mainly depends on oil for its energy needs. To reach the Paris Agreement, and limit global warming to preferably 1,5 ˚C, the fossil CO2 emitted by road vehicles will have to be reduced to nearly zero over the next three decades. While Europe is accelerating the transition towards low- and zero-emission vehicles, around half the vehicles that will be on the road in 2030 have already been sold, most of them with gasoline or diesel engines. So, even with electric and hydrogen vehicles picking up momentum, these legacy vehicles will also have to play their part in cutting CO2 emissions. One way to achieve this is with alternative synthetic fuels (e-fuels).
The advantages of synthetic fuels compared to direct electricity use lie in their high energy density, their good storage capacity and the distribution infrastructure, some of which is already in place. However, its production involves high energy conversion losses: from 100 kilowatt hours of electricity, only 13 kilowatt hours remain to be used for locomotion in a combustion car.
Therefore, biofuels and e-fuels should be considered not as an alternative to e-mobility, but as an addition for specific use cases where they offer benefits and can’t be replaced by existing assets. Climate-neutral fuels are a true alternative, especially for aircrafts and ships where electric propulsion is not an option.