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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

Dissent emerges in Europe over unrealistic political favoritism given to EVs, hydrogen in heavy-duty vehicle CO2 standards


The European Waste-based & Advanced Biofuels Association, representing 55-plus stakeholders from the EU waste-based and advanced biodiesel supply chain, noted in early February that it has become apparent that several member states including Germany are considering not supporting the deal struck during the first trilogue Jan. 18 (the revised CO2 Emissions Standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles legislative file), with a likely blocking minority for the file.


Like many other organizations, EWABA considers the role of renewable liquid fuels as essential for the future of heavy road transport under the revised CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

 

“A fair number of member states support the important role of renewable fuels, citing the latest statistics published by Eurostat showing that even in 2022 most member states still did not fulfill the 10 percent transport target and will be struggling even more to meet the ambitious future targets of 14.5 percent emission savings or 29 percent share of renewable energy,” EWABA stated.

 

“Heavy-duty transport is a hard-to-decarbonize sector and will need significantly more time, effort and investments to reach large-scale electrification or the deployment of novel fuels such as hydrogen in significant volumes,” the organization continued.

 

Angel Alvarez Alberdi, the secretary general of EWABA, added, “A combination of technologies will be needed to efficiently decarbonize the transport sector, and especially road heavy-duty vehicles. Sustainable biodiesel is the best available and cheapest fuel solution not requiring any notable infrastructure investments. It should therefore be encouraged for further use in higher blends to decarbonize the heavy-duty road sector.”

 

EWABA pointed out that this is a crucial moment for the EU transport sector to move forward embracing technology neutrality and utilize the most efficient and sustainable fuels to cut emissions today.

 

Germany-based Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen e. V. (UFOP) noted Feb. 9 that the current hiccup over the vote to set stricter CO2 fleet limits for trucks and buses once again confirms the lack of coordination of a comprehensive strategy—not only at national but also at European level.

 

With this statement, UFOP criticized the inappropriate discussion in the German Federal Chancellery on the regulation of CO2 fleet limits for trucks and buses.

 

The organization, however, welcomed Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing’s adherence to a decarbonization strategy that is open to all technologies.

 

UFOP noted that “the vehicle industry itself has regrettably given up the fight for the combustion engine, which can be operated fossil-free with renewable fuels.”

 

As the governing party in Germany, the Free Democratic Party is “stepping on the brakes late, but still in time,” UFOP added.

 

“[UFOP] reminds us of the technological openness demanded by the vehicle industry in the past,” the organization stated. “The sudden cancelation of state funding for e-mobility—as much as 5.7 billion euros (USD$6.14 billion) in the period from July 2016 to June 2022—should be warning enough not to commit to one form of drive in the development and thus expected state funding.”

 

UFOP said it believes that the causes of “the current voting disaster in Brussels and Berlin are primarily to be found in the EU Parliament, where the mantra of e-mobility was discussed without taking into account the huge system costs for creating the infrastructure. Electricity prices are already too high and are likely to remain too high, especially if electricity has to be charged at public charging points. At the same time, the ramp up of capacity expansion for renewable electricity is lagging far behind the targets.”  

 

UFOP also said the organization finds it “incomprehensible that the fact that the entire energy requirement for the electrification of road transport and for heat supply via heat pumps cannot be met from German and European production of renewable electricity is being overlooked. The laws of physics are also sitting at the table in the Chancellery as a silent negotiating partner. UFOP recalls the discussion at the 21st International Conference on Renewable Mobility—Fuels of the Future, which was recently held in Berlin. The experts agreed that electricity converted into energy sources such as methanol must be imported. In view of the energy requirements for all modes of transport, the absolute electricity demand cannot be met from the socket in this country.”

 

As a component that has already been introduced to the market, biofuels are an important but only complementary contribution to the solution in this environment, UFOP stated.

 

“This is precisely why their targeted use in heavy-goods transport, with its high-power requirements in terms of route profile, is also of great importance in the future,” the organization stated. “UFOP is calling for a coordinated European drive and fuel strategy to be the best possible prerequisite for the framework for action and for a reliable long-term subsidization policy so that even more jobs do not run the risk of being relocated to third countries. This also applies to engine development.”

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