The recently published report of European Commission’s Joint Research Centre analyses R&I in low-emission alternative energy for transport in Europe excluding energy and fuel production, focusing on selected EU funded projects from TRIMIS with end dates from 2019 onwards.
About 2.3bn euro has been invested in research and innovation (R&I) for low-emission alternative energy for transport focusing on tank-to-wheel emissions and therefore excluding energy and fuel production, between 2007 and 2020. Road transport has received more funding than any other transport mode.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) refuelling stations (25 projects and €380.8 m) followed by biofuels for road transport (31 projects and €236.9 m) and alternative aviation fuels (10 projects and €373 m) are among the researched technologies with the highest investments. This specifically involves tank-to-wheel energy and emissions (i.e. the analysis excludes well-to-tank).
Hydrogen receives the largest share, with 67 projects and the total project value exceeding €1.2 bn. Methane based fuels (e.g. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), LNG) receive the second greatest attention concerning the number of projects (60) and the level of funding (€944 m), whilst there are only seven research projects still ongoing relating to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
New technologies and changes need time, therefore transition periods are very important along with proper use of the various alternative fuels available.
The fuels with the highest economic potential are already on the market (e.g. Methane based fuels and LPG), but they have a limited overall environmental advantage over conventional fuels (petrol and diesel). On the other hand, renewable fuels with a higher potential to decarbonisation are are either not available in sufficient quantities (e.g. low indirect land-use change risk conventional biofuels) or still not commercially viable (e.g. Advanced Biofuels, Hydrogen and Synthetic Paraffinic Fuels), and there is not enough infrastructure for their deployment across Europe.
Alternative fuel policies should take into account the current state of the art of low-emission alternative energy for transport. They should evaluate all potential impacts to set realistic targets that ensure the decarbonisation of the transport sector at the highest possible speed to achieve the EU’s climate objectives. The Horizon Europe (2021-2027) research and innovation funding programme will promote forward looking technologies and avoid lock-in into fossil infrastructures and technologies.
Alternative energy sources and fuels which have lower carbon emission rates for means of transportation are major tools in the fight against climate change. However it could be argued that the field is still in its 'infancy' stage, which also allows for much more exploratory research and potential for great transformation how we produce and use fuel sources. Therefore the report by JRC opens the door for Europe to become a leading actor in this change. ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network), with its partners, hopes and works for a major breakthrough in this field and we believe that an energy transformation, especially in means of public and mass transportation, can help the European Union reach its goal to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050 under the framework of the European Green Deal.
The Transport Research and Innovation Monitoring and Information System (TRIMIS) is the European Commission’s (EC) instrument for mapping transport technology trends and research and innovation capacities.
Source: European Commission Joint Research Centre Newsroom