The need for drastic measures if the Paris climate goals are to be achieved is out of question. In past December, the EU resolved that by 2030, new vehicles should emit 37.5% less carbon dioxide than planned for 2021. The respective figure for heavy-duty trucks, decided upon early this year, is set at minus 30%.
There is also a target for the German domestic transport sector: Reducing CO2-emissions from 170mio. tons in 2017 to less than 100mio. tons in 2030.
However, 98% of today’s energy consumption in transport is supplied by liquid sources – gasoline, diesel, and biofuels. And global road freight, aviation, shipping and petrochemical markets keep growing until 2040 and probably beyond. Due to its high intensity, liquid energy cannot be fully replaced in sea and air traffic as well as large parts of long-distance heavy-duty road transports even in the long run.
In order to reach the climate goals in transportation anyway, the use of low-carbon fuels is a “no-regret” measure. In the long term, at least 40% of these fuels will still be needed. For the rest, it will be a competitive option. Recent studies suggest a significant demand for renewable liquid fuels such as synthetic fuels or advanced biofuels.
The German and European refinery industries are on their way to a low-emission economy, as suggested in the strategy “VISION 2050”. The roadmap includes increased use of low-carbon feedstocks such as waste, and forming refineries into production centers for low-carbon liquids.
At start, these new fuels will be more expensive than conventional fuels. Therefore, the EU must overcome their one-sided support of electric mobility and adapt an e-fuels and biofuels political strategy. We need a stable political framework to ensure the investments necessary for a market breakthrough and at the end to meet the climate goals.