Climate targets cannot be achieved without synthetic fuel

The first batch of Audi ?? e-petrol ?? has been produced by cooperation partner Global Bioenergies.

Comment from Peter Schwerdtmann

The climate targets cannot be achieved without synthetic fuels. The speakers at the 15th Berlin Automobile Dialog, which was hosted today by the Central Association of the German Motor Vehicle Industry (ZDK) as an online discussion, are in agreement with this view. Since a possible ban on new registrations of internal combustion engines would only have a minor impact on the fleet of existing vehicles reached by then, the expansion of so-called e-fuels is urgently required.

The blinker-like focus of large parts of the car industry on the electrification of the model series was therefore criticized with varying intensity, but unmistakably. The combustion engine definitely has a future, it was generally said that it only had to be operated with climate-neutral fuels. The production technology required for this is fully developed, the only thing missing is extensive production capacities. The laboratory prices currently circulating in public should not be used as a yardstick for the industrial scale. An example from the VW Group shows that there is still no uniform opinion among car manufacturers on the opportunities and prospects of e-fuels: while Audi is participating gave up on an e-gas test facility in Werlte, East Frisia, recently surprised Porsche by participating in a project in Chile where, together with Siemens and other partners, renewable electricity is to be used to generate climate-neutral, synthetic fuel.

It could be used in new cars as well as in existing vehicles with internal combustion engines. According to Ralf Diener, managing director of the "eFuel Alliance", which includes car manufacturers and suppliers, the first thing to do is to influence the political framework so that from the production of Climate-neutral fuel could also become a viable business model for providers. On the one hand, even an electric car that runs on 100 percent coal-fired electricity is currently considered climate-neutral and eligible because it emits zero grams of CO2. On the other hand, the taxation of carrier media is still based on their energy density and not on the actual CO2 balance, which is why there is a lack of balanced and fair regulation by the European Union.

Various chemical reaction processes are necessary for the production of Audi e-diesel. Photo: Audi AG

Since Germany plays an important role in the EU and other states are orienting themselves towards Germany's stance in terms of energy policy, the upcoming federal elections are of great importance with regard to desirable changes not very effective on a global scale. Increasing mobility needs in other parts of the world made a complete disappearance of the combustion engine seem unrealistic. SPD member of the Bundestag Andreas Rimkus sees a "gigantic value creation potential" in the expansion of the e-fuel economy, for which he wants to "remove barriers and hurdles". According to Elmar Kühn, one of the main problems is not the generation of clean energy, because in many regions of the world there is more than enough wind and sun. Rather, their distribution must be better organized, says the managing director of the Federal Association of Medium-Sized Mineral Oil Companies.

His association is also committed to the increased use of synthetic fuels, the use of which could both help secure jobs in the conventional drive systems industry and create new jobs. In his opinion, there is no climate advantage of battery electric vehicles when all factors are taken into account. Because the existing fleet ensures sustained demand and the existing tank infrastructure enables reliable distribution, he also sees synthetic fuel as competitively priced. According to calculations by Robert Bosch GmbH, up to four fifths of vehicles registered on the road will still be equipped with an internal combustion engine by 2030.

“The time spent on the market is very long,” says Björn Noack, Bosch Director of Sustainable Mobility Strategy. This makes sense because the technology used is durable and the manufacturing quality is high. These "old vehicles" require around 200 million tons of fuel annually. The aim is to gradually replace this amount with e-fuels. Without synthetic fuels, according to Noack, “the climate targets cannot be achieved.” Against this background, it seems incomprehensible why products that have already been developed are refused official approval for large-scale use. A climate-neutral fuel used internally by Bosch, for example, was refused approval due to an allegedly inadmissible proportion of palm oil. (aum / afb)

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