E-fuel would be wasted on cars while it’s badly needed to decarbonise planes and ships – study
(Transport and Environment, 7 Dec 2020) Many car and truck-makers want to use e-fuels like hydrogen and e-diesel to clean up road transport, but new research shows that powering just a fraction of vehicles with e-fuels in 2050 would require new offshore wind-farms covering an area the size of Denmark.
The study by Ricardo Energy & Environment finds that electrofuels should be prioritised for ships and planes, most of which cannot use batteries to decarbonise and will generate huge demand for e-fuels.
Powering just 10% of cars, vans and small trucks with hydrogen and 10% with e-diesel would require 41% more renewables in 2050 than if they were electric vehicles running on batteries, according to the study. If half of heavy-duty trucks were run on hydrogen and half on e-diesel, they would consume 151% more renewables in 2050 than if they were directly electrified. Transport & Environment (T&E), which commissioned the research, said the figures show hydrogen and e-fuels need to be deployed first where there are no alternatives – in aviation and shipping.
Geert De Cock, electricity and energy manager at 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. For example, running just a fraction of vehicles on e-fuels would require offshore wind turbines covering all of Denmark. That doesn’t make any sense.”