‘Whilst commercial production is not a turn key solution, internal combustion fuel engines are ready to roll’
Supporters of e-fuels argue that they offer a means to reduce the CO₂ emissions of the existing passenger car fleet without the need to replace every vehicle with an electric one. However, critics highlight that manufacturing e-fuels is currently very expensive and energy-intensive. It requires about five times more renewable electricity to power an ICE vehicle with e-fuels compared to a battery-electric vehicle.
Governmental and Regulatory Position on E-Fuels
The European Union recently passed a landmark law aiming to end sales of CO₂-emitting cars by 2035. However, Germany and several other countries have opposed this law, demanding that new cars with internal combustion engines running on e-fuels be allowed after 2035. This opposition has temporarily halted the implementation of this ambitious climate policy.
In response to this opposition, the European Commission has proposed a compromise that would allow carmakers to register new cars in the EU only if they can run on climate-neutral e-fuels. The draft proposal also includes requirements for technology that prevents the use of non-carbon-neutral fuels, emphasizing the importance of decarbonizing the transportation sector.
Industry Support for E-Fuels
Major players in the automotive industry, including Bosch, ZF, Mahle, and carmakers like Porsche, Piech, and Mazda, have shown support for e-fuels. These companies are members of the eFuel Alliance, an industry lobby group, demonstrating their commitment to exploring and developing this technology. Porsche, for instance, has invested in e-fuel producer HIF Global, emphasizing the potential of e-fuels as a sustainable solution for transportation.
Conclusion: Driving Toward a Sustainable Future
In conclusion, while electric vehicles undoubtedly offer inherent efficiency advantages over combustion engines powered by synthetic or e-fuels, it is crucial to acknowledge that a significant number of internal combustion vehicles will still be on the road after 2030. E-fuels have the potential to make these vehicles greener, bridging the gap during the transition to fully electric transportation.
Dr. Karl Dums, Porsche's head of e-fuels, believes that economies of scale and technological advancements could make e-fuels competitive with fossil fuels by the end of the decade. Additionally, e-fuels offer a means to store surplus renewable energy and facilitate its export using existing infrastructure. This is especially relevant in regions like Chile, where renewable energy production can exceed demand.
Ultimately, consumers are driven by the desire for sustainable outcomes while recognizing the need for a just transition that is pragmatic rather than tumultuous. Synthetic fuels, including e-fuels, have the potential to serve as a bridge in this journey toward a more sustainable and affordable future for all.