E-Fuels Argued as Alternative to Electric Batteries

March 24, 2023
E-fuels are being argued by many as an alternative to EVs: most recently by Germany in opposition to the EU's future ban on gas cars.

The decision by the European Union to “end sales of CO2-emitting cars in 2035” has faced opposition from Germany, which argued that ICE vehicles should continue to be sold if they run on e-fuels–though much discussion still surrounds the viability of utilizing them in passenger car fleets, Reuters reports.

E-fuels are created by way of “synthesizing captured CO2 emissions and hydrogen produced using renewable or CO2-free electricity,” similar to “e-kerosene, e-methane, or e-methanol.” These fuels still release CO2 when used by an engine, but are equal to the amount of CO2 taken to produce the fuel: making it “CO2-neutral overall.”

These e-fuels can be used in contemporary ICE vehicles and are able to be transported through “existing fossil fuel logistics networks.” Arguments in favor of e-fuels assert that they can help to cut CO2 emissions without having to replace entire vehicles with EVs.

Criticism of this plan points out that creating e-fuels is “very expensive and energy-intensive.” The amount of energy required to use e-fuels in an ICE vehicle is “about five times more” than it would take to power an EV, a 2021 paper in the Nature Climate Change journal stated.

Some policymakers have argued that e-fuels should instead be utilized for modes of transportation that are unable to use electric batteries, such as “hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as shipping and aviation.”

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