The European commission is backing the development and increased use of synthetic fuels as part of an integrated approach to future energy supplies.
Addressing leading automotive manufacturers and fuel companies in Brussels on Tuesday, EU industry chief, Gunter Verheugen said synthetic fuels needed to quickly break into the EU’s fuel markets.
“I hope to see the wide-scale introduction of synthetic fuels soon…its success will be measured by the speed and extent of (its) market penetration.”
“In the long-term, it is also my hope that Europe will be able to use its experience with these fuels as a stepping stone towards a wider use of renewably-produced hydrogen,” said Verheugen.
The commission vice-president was speaking at the launch of a new industry partnership to promote synthetic fuels, the alliance for synthetic fuels in Europe (ASFE).
Alliance members, including Renault, Royal Dutch Shell, Sasol Chevron, Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler believe that developing synthetic fuels – from natural gas, biofuel and coal – can help to meet some of Europe’s concerns over energy security and diversity of supply.
“Synthetic fuels can reduce petroleum dependency and provide a cost effective, realistic development path between today’s fuels and longer term renewable energy,” said Royal Dutch Shell’s Rob Routs.
“Synthetic fuels can deliver a cleaner fuel future,” according to Sasol Chevron’s George Couvaras, who added that the new fuels could meet “concerns about security and diversity of supply.”
“Synthetic fuels can deliver real emissions reductions today and this will improve even more as the technology develops,” said Couvaras.
Austrian EU presidency minister for environment and agriculture, Joseph Proell called the development of synthetic and bio fuels a “win-win situation.”
“It’s an undeniable fact that road transport is a major cause of emissions…Europe needs the cleanest and safest vehicles,” said Proell.
“Energy demand in the transport sector is almost entirely oil based. We need to curb this dependence, and renewables provide the key.”
Increasing the market share of synthetic fuels, particularly those derived from biomass is a key priority for Austria, said Proell.
Brussels agriculture chief, Mariann Fischer Boel has said she intends to take another look at the EU’s biofuels directive later this year, in a bid to stimulate demand.
Both Verheugen and Proell said they favoured fuels derived from biomass, so called biomass-to-liquid fuels over those derived from gas and coal.
“From what I know about the characteristics of different synthetic fuels, it appears that the Biomass-to-Liquid fuels offer the greatest potential in terms CO2 benefits,” said Verheugen.
“This is also in line with the conclusions of the CARS 21 high level group and the recommendations of the recently adopted EU Biofuels strategy.”
They both recommend that the development and market introduction of second generation biofuels should be given as much support as possible.”
Energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs was also scheduled to address alliance members later on Tuesday evening, ahead of the launch of his much anticipated green paper on energy, on Wednesday.
Source: EUPolitix.com March 07, 2006.