Tuesday, March 23, 2021

EU Insiders Look Towards a Low Carbon Fuel Policy for Road Haulage

Action Needed to Stay on Track
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – EUROPE – A week before the UK announced potential forthcoming revisions to its Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) policy, industry and research representatives at the Messe Frankfurt Expo spoke at the second edition of its 'Energy4Mobility Expert Talk' series, in cooperation with the Representation of the State of Hessen to the European Union.

The speakers agreed that a long-term strategy for low-carbon liquid fuels is needed at EU level to design the required policy framework and unlock the full potential of these types of fuels to support the EU’s climate neutrality ambitions. Now it just needs the EU to actually do something positive. Prof. Thomas Koch, Head of the Institute for Piston Machinery Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie said:

"European policy for road transport has become really focused on replacing the internal combustion engine, whereas in fact, decarbonising transport is about replacing fossil fuels. This distinction is key if we do not want to lose credibility."

The European Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, introduced the European Commission’s plans for establishing a long-term regulatory framework for aviation and maritime fuels saying they would play an important role, but Jan-Christoph Oetjen, Member of the European Parliament, called for a low-carbon liquid fuels strategy that embraces a well-to-wheel approach, whereby carbon emissions are assessed throughout a fuel’s full life cycle.

This would help to ramp up production and use of low-carbon liquid fuels in the road transport sector, with a view to use them later on in those sectors which are more difficult to decarbonise. Laurianne Krid Director General Region I, Fédération International de l’Automobile (FIA) said that low-carbon liquid fuels could play a role in the transition, but they are currently hampered by their scarcity and their cost. Should they be made available to consumers easily and in an affordable way, they should definitely have a role to play in the medium term.

Low-carbon liquid fuels are sustainable fuel alternatives from non-petroleum origin. They can contribute to reaching carbon neutrality, as no or very limited CO2 emissions are released during their production and use. Time is nonetheless of the essence in fleshing out the strategic way forward for low-carbon liquid fuels in Europe, with demonstration at scale required in this decade for these fuels to deliver the greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

First blended with conventional fuels, low-carbon liquid fuels have the potential to progressively replace traditional fuels, alongside other innovative mobility solutions, such as electrification, hydrogen and further emerging technologies. However, proponents say unlike some alternatives, low-carbon liquid fuels largely rely on already available infrastructure, and do not require the replacement of the existing vehicle fleet.

Ultimately, by providing a further choice next to other low-carbon technologies, these types of fuels are also making sustainable mobility options available for a wider group of consumers. John Cooper, Director-General at FuelsEurope, commented:

“While there is no single technology which will address the challenge of decarbonising the entire transport sector, renewable and low-carbon liquid fuels represent a complementary, no-regret solution, across land, air and sea. A long-term European strategy would help drive demand for low-carbon liquid fuels in all three transport sectors.”