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Investments needed to repurpose Europe's tank storage capacity - FETSA/UPEI study finds

The current tank terminal infrastructure will be critical to the energy transition as well as the strategic autonomy and resilience of the EU. Most of the existing fuel distribution infrastructure can be repurposed to accommodate renewable and low carbon fuels, a joint Federation of European Tank Storage Associations (FETSA) and Union Pétrolière Européenne Indépendante (UPEI) study finds.

The study explores only the part of the fuel supply chain located in Europe. The fuel production phase – refineries and other fuel production sites – is excluded from the scope. From primary storage, the scope covers the whole downstream part of supply chains, comprising transport and distribution of the finished products to the consumer (graphic courtesy Trinomics).

Commissioned by FETSA and UPEI, the study “Implications of the energy transition for European storage, fuel supply & distribution infrastructure” was carried out by Trinomics B.V, a leading energy, and economics consultancy. The trade associations represent European bulk liquid storage, and Europe’s independent fuel suppliers respectively.

The study shows that the current tank terminal infrastructure will be critical to the energy transition as well as the strategic autonomy and resilience of the EU. Specific investments will be needed to store many of the liquids of the future and our sector is already modernizing terminals, adapting infrastructure, exploring new trade routes, and updating handling and safety procedures to prepare, said Ravi Bhatiani, Executive Director of FETSA.

The study offers an in-depth assessment of the effect of substituting conventional fuels on concrete supply chains, through 11 case studies, considering spatial configuration, safety, equipment, and costs.

The study concluded that for most major supply chains, existing infrastructure would be compatible with the future lower carbon and renewable liquids that will be used to drive the economy in a climate-neutral Europe.

Although investments will be needed to adapt equipment, these are in line with normal expectations for upgrading equipment. For certain supply chains, related to clean hydrogen, for example, there are likely to be greater investments needed to adapt to new supply routes and product characteristics.

Ultimately, the expertise and know-how in handling energy products, as liquids or liquefied gasses, uniquely qualifies existing logistics businesses to continue and thrive into the low carbon and renewable future.

A key finding of the study is that most of the existing fuel distribution infrastructure can be repurposed to accommodate renewable and low carbon fuels, efficiently and cost-effectively bringing these solutions to final consumers, commented Cécile Nourigat, Secretary-General of UPEI.

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