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Why so discouraged?

Why so discouraged?
Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance (photo courtesy eFuel Alliance).

Responding to the position adopted by the European Council on the Renewable Energies Directives (RED III), the eFuel Alliance asks "why (EU Energy Ministers are) so discouraged" when synthetic fuels could replace much of Russia's crude oil imports?

On June 27, 2022, European Council adopted its negotiating positions on the Renewable Energies Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive under the ‘Fit for 55’ package of proposals that were presented by the European Commission on July 14, 2021.

The position of the EU energy ministers on the reform of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED III) is disappointing. The decisions fall too short and show a lack of courage on the part of the ministers to take larger steps towards a more climate-friendly and diverse energy supply, said Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance.

In its REPowerEU strategy published in May 2022, the European Commission had proposed, among other things, increasing the share of renewables in the overall energy mix to 45 percent in 2030 in response to rising energy prices and the threat of supply disruptions from Russia.

EU energy ministers left it at the Commission’s original ‘Fit for 55’ proposal of 40 percent.

In addition to the climate crisis, we have also been confronted with a looming energy supply crisis since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February. In view of these challenges, greater ambition on the part of the member states for more climate protection and security of supply in the energy sector would actually be logical. In this regard, renewable fuels could replace up to 70 percent of Russia’s crude oil imports by 2030 if appropriate targets are set in RED III, said Ralf Diemer.

Similarly, the Commission had recommended increasing a sub-target for the use of renewable hydrogen and climate-neutral fuels based on it, so-called eFuels, in the transport sector from 2.6 percent in 2030 to five percent.

This is also how we see it at the eFuel Alliance. But here too, despite the pressing problems, the EU energy ministers are showing little ambition and only want to achieve an indicative target of 2.6 percent, Ralf Diemer said.

Although this sub-target can be statistically increased to 5.2 percent by 2030 through a possible double counting of eFuels – this does not help the climate, because it is not the statistics that matter, but the substances actually put on the market, Ralf Diemer pointed out.

The eFuel Alliance, therefore, calls for a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction quota for the transport sector of at least 20 percent and a sub-target for renewable hydrogen and eFuels of 5 percent in 2030.

It is all the more important now that the European Parliament, whose decision is still pending, moves forward more decisively. We must now set the course so that we can, on the one hand, reduce our dependence on energy imports from Russia pursue a more diverse import strategy for eFuels, and, at the same time, achieve our climate targets. After all, no one disputes that eFuels and hydrogen are a crucial key to solving the problem – but this would then also require the appropriate decisions for the right framework conditions, ended Ralf Diemer.

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