In a joint letter, 223 associations, companies, and scientists call on the EU Commission to include a voluntary crediting system for sustainable renewable fuels in the carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards regulation for new vehicles."Synthetic fuels are currently still being treated very unfairly," says Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance, one of the signatories of the joint call.
The joint letter illustrates how competition between all existing technologies in European road traffic is severely distorted by different policy measures. The carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards regulation for new vehicles weighs most heavily.
Here, automotive manufacturers must comply with a certain limit on average emissions for all vehicles sold. However, these emissions are only measured at the tailpipe with no consideration over the entire life cycle.
This the signatories point out, leads to the absurdity that an electric car is credited with 0 g/km even when charged with fossil-derived electricity, whereas a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE) is by default credited with the fossil emission value – even if it demonstrably uses 100 percent carbon-neutral renewable fuels.
Under the current regulatory design in the Commission’s “Fit for 55” package, automobile manufacturers could never achieve the CO2 targets with electro-fuels (e-fuels).
Synthetic fuels are currently still being treated very unfairly. We are convinced that electrification will play a major role in road transport. But we think, it’s wrong to put all our eggs in one basket and rule out complementary solutions, said Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance, one of the signatories of the joint call.
An appropriate crediting system for renewable fuels needed
Therefore, vehicles whose CO2 footprint has been demonstrably offset by renewable fuels over the entire life of the vehicle should be recognized as “climate neutral” in the CO2 emission standards regulation in the same way as electric vehicles.
A proposed system for crediting renewable fuels was developed in 2020 by Frontier Economics on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.
The signatories highlight that the system has the following advantages:
- It is voluntary. This means any manufacturer can use renewable fuels if customers want or targets are missed but do not have to.
- Only additional quantities of renewable fuels count. This provides even more climate protection.
- It sends clear investment signals to the fuel industry.
- The existing limits and strict sustainability criteria of conventional biofuels must be respected. This excludes the possibility of a crediting system increasing the share of conventional biofuels. On the contrary, investments will flow into advanced biofuels and e-fuels.
- The crediting of renewable fuels is an additional safeguard for the automotive industry should unexpected risks arise during the ramp-up of e-mobility. These could include political problems arising from a dependency on rare raw materials, unexpected electricity price increases, recycling issues, customer acceptance issues, infrastructure problems, etc.
Establishing a hydrogen economy without government subsidies
In order to be able to achieve the climate protection goals, the replacement of fossil fuels must be accelerated. This can only succeed if, in addition to the expansion of electromobility, the use of climate-neutral fuels is also promoted, and if e-mobility and regenerative fuels complement each other through a technology-open discussion and binding framework conditions.
The signatories of this letter are clearly against a distribution discussion of hydrogen and e-fuels. There is enough renewable energy potential worldwide, and e-fuels enable the storage and transport of these additional amounts of energy.
We reject the significance of efficiency losses in the production and use of eFuels. The better site conditions, especially in sparsely populated regions of the world, completely compensate for the efficiency losses. A wind turbine in Chile produces four times as much energy each year as a wind turbine in Germany, said Ralf Diemer.
To achieve the climate goals, the hydrogen economy needs to ramp up as quickly as possible. Every sector that can make a decisive contribution through its high willingness to pay without subsidies should be considered.
To this end, the crediting of renewable fuels in the CO2 fleet regulation must be made possible, now the signatories say.