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05 November 2010

EU looks to alternative fuels for 'green' cars

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The EU needs a long-term strategy on alternative fuels to decarbonise its transport sector by 2050, according to a draft report from the European Commission

A draft report by the European Expert Group on Future Transport Fuels assesses Europe's options for substituting oil in the transport sector.

The group, comprising industry associations, NGOs and Commission officials, was put together by the European Commission to provide advice on developing political strategies for alternative fuels.

The transport sector is currently heavily dependent on oil, but concerns over projected rise in demand and spiralling greenhouse gas emissions have led to the search for viable alternative fuels.

The report identifies electricity via battery or hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels as the main options for substituting oil in transport.

In addition, natural gas and bio-methane could be used as back-ups, while synthetic fuels could bridge the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, it says. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) could supplement the energy mix with a market share of up to 10% by 2020.

Biofuels and synthetic solutions would technically be able to fuel all transport modes, but feedstock availability and sustainability considerations would in practice put constraints on their availability, the paper argues.

Alternative fuels generally tend to be less energy-efficient than fossil fuels, but they also reduce CO2 emissions from transport. They will be promoted in the European Commission's upcoming White Paper on Transport, expected in December, which is scheduled to launch an EU strategy for transport policy in the next decade.


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