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Monday, December 7, 2020 

A report from UK consulting engineers Ricardo shows that the use of synthesized e-fuels should focus on shipping and aviation ahead of road transport where other forms of electrification are more effective.

The report, Renewable electricity requirements to decarbonize transport in Europe with electric vehicles, hydrogen and electrofuels, was produced on behalf of transport campaign group Transport & Environment. Its purpose is to investigate whether a number of potential decarbonisation pathways are achievable within the limits of supply side constraints such as the renewable energy generation potential of the European Union.

The following were among the key messages for policy makers concerning specific modes of transport. Firstly, direct electrification should be the focus for road transport, wherever possible, as it is the most efficient path to decarbonisation. Comparing different modes, road transport will decarbonise more rapidly than shipping and aviation to 2030, but to decarbonise shipping and aviation will require significantly more renewable electricity to produce the required levels of e-fuels by 2050 (projected to be 30% of the total). Policy decisions about zero-emission heavy-duty trucks in the early 2020s will have significant ramifications for electricity demand by 2030 and 2050. Small changes to the fuel mix of light road vehicles has a large impact on electricity requirements. Finally, the renewable electricity requirements to decarbonise aviation are relatively insensitive to fuel choice because all scenarios considered rely heavily on e-kerosene as a synthesised liquid fuel.

Geert De Cock, electricity and energy manager, T&E, said: “The EU has the renewable electricity potential to achieve economy-wide decarbonisation, but the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. The choices we make today could have massive repercussions on power demand in the future.”

Nick Ash, renewable fuels expert, Ricardo, added: “We’re proud to have been part of this project, as the research and report play an important role in helping to review the critical decisions that policy makers need to make today, if we are to realise the ambitions of a decarbonised transport sector by 2050. Ricardo is supporting governments and the private sector around the world through access to the scientifically robust information needed to understand how best to utilise electrification and e-fuels to develop clean, efficient products for global transport sectors.”

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