Source: Euractiv, S. G. Carroll
A new study claims that the low production levels associated with e-fuels, a hydrogen-derived fuel source advertised as a green solution for combustion engine vehicles, means that the alternative will only be able to cover 2% of the EU’s vehicle fleet.
The analysis, carried out by clean mobility NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), predicts that e-fuel production will still be in its infancy by the time the draft EU ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars is enacted. Due to the theoretically carbon-neutral status of e-fuels (CO2 is captured for production), fuel manufacturers and automotive industry figures have pushed for the official classification as a petrol/diesel green alternative by European lawmakers.
Essentially, this would extend the sell-by date of combustion engine vehicles beyond the current 2035 EU deadline. However, as suggested by the T&E study, this is not a viable alternative – just 5 million cars out of the EU’s fleet of 287 million could fully run on synthetic fuel in 2035.
Yoann Gimbert, an e-mobility analyst at T&E, rejected claims that e-fuels represent a clean solution for cars, calling synthetic fuels a “Trojan Horse for the fossil fuel industry”.
“E-fuels are presented as a carbon-neutral way to prolong the life of combustion engine technology. But the industry’s own data shows there will only be enough for a tiny fraction of cars on the road,” he said.
On the other hand, the FuelsEurope trade association has referred to the analysis as “disingenuous and deeply misguided“. John Cooper, FuelsEurope Director General, argued that focusing on e-fuels only misses the trade association’s larger point, which is that a range of technologies and feedstocks can be deployed to decarbonize road transport beyond 2035, leading to a broader and more stable approach.
Negotiations are currently underway between EU institutions to finalize CO2 emission standards for cars and vans, with the next round of discussions set to take place on 27 October, and the role of e-fuels sure to be a hot topic. Read the full Euractiv analysis here.