E-FUELS CRUCIAL TO SUSTAINABLE
SEPTEMBER 23, 2020
E-fuels can reduce CO2 emissions from long-distance truck transport, aviation and shipping.
Synthetic fuels produced from electricity, or e-fuels, will play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions from long-distance truck transport, aviation and shipping. For long-distance freight transport and shipping, synthetic methanol, diesel and LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) are the most attractive options; for deep sea shipping, synthetic ammonia is also an important option. For aviation, only e-kerosene is feasible.
Even though green hydrogen is needed to produce e-fuels, its applicability as a fuel in heavy transport is limited. This is demonstrated by a recently completed study by VoltaChem, TNO and SmartPort, together with market parties, of over a year, into the most promising e-fuels for heavy transport applications and their deployment.
“The transport sector is responsible for 23% of global CO2 emissions. Almost three-quarters of this comes from road transport. Aviation and shipping account for about 10% of the transport sector’s emissions each. In order to meet the climate goals, these emissions will have to be reduced by 95% by 2050. Shipping, aviation and heavy road transport are currently lagging far behind when it comes to contributing to sustainable mobility. They must therefore become drastically greener and e-fuels offer a way out as long as stakeholders from the entire value chain will take the necessary steps and increase production and investments in the related infrastructure”, says Richard Smokers of TNO, one of the authors of the whitepaper.
E-FUELS DIFFERENT FOR TRUCK TRANSPORT, SHIPPING AND AVIATION
The study looked into the possibilities for green hydrogen, and the e-fuels e-methanol, e-diesel, e-ammonia, e-LNG and e-kerosine from a user perspective. These e-fuels, like green hydrogen, hardly produce CO2 emissions because they are produced with electricity from renewable sources and circular carbon dioxide
The whitepaper shows that for truck transport green hydrogen can only be used for shorter and medium distances. For long-distance truck transport e-fuels are the most attractive options because of their high energy density requiring smaller, cheaper tanks. Hydrogen is also likely to be more expensive to use than synthetic methanol, diesel and LNG due to the high costs of refuelling infrastructure and vehicles.
E-ammonia is currently considered too dangerous for road transport. For shipping, hydrogen is only an interesting option for short distances and ferries. E-ammonia is particularly interesting for deep sea shipping (sea transport over long distances). Synthetic methanol, diesel and LNG are interesting options for both inland and sea shipping.
For aviation, e-kerosene appears to be the only feasible option. All fuels deviating significantly from kerosene are unacceptable due to a too high loss of passenger and load capacity and because of the need to invest in completely new aircraft and engine designs.
ACTION NEEDED THROUGHOUT VALUE CHAIN
In order to scale up the deployment of e-fuels in such a way that climate goals are realized, steps need to be taken at a global, EU, national and regional level and throughout the entire value chain. “In the long term, governments should promote the use of synthetic instead of fossil fuels alongside biofuels. This can be done, for example, by taxing CO2 emissions throughout the value chain and through the mandatory blending of renewable fuels. In addition, ports should explicitly include the production and supply of synthetic fuels in their land use planning and in their international import and export strategy” says Richard Smokers.