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The road to a greener transport sector does not run via one type of fuel

23 Sep 2014

In 2050 urban traffic in the Netherlands has to be largely electric. Liquefied (bio)gas will be increasingly important for long distance road transport, while air and shipping transport will increasingly use biofuels. Improving energy efficiency is important for all modes of transport. These are main points contained in the fuel vision created under the guidance of a knowledge consortium of TNO, CE Delft and ECN.

The Fuel Vision has been created by more than a hundred stakeholders from industry, social organisations, central and local authorities and knowledge institutions. All parties agreed on one thing: the route to a greener transport sector will not run via any one type of fuel. Cars will be largely electric powered by 2050 but this is not an option for heavy trucks that have to cover long distances. Liquefied gas – based on conventional natural or bio gas or as an alternative made from hydrogen and carbon – is an option, however. Biofuels for aircraft and shipping will help the sustainability drive. But for all vehicles, energy-efficiency is key. 'Better efficiency is a key pillar in the whole vision,' says Gertjan Koornneef, coordinator of the project at TNO. 'That will reduce emissions as well as solve other problems. The range of the electric car, for example, will be extended.'

Adaptive policy

The document was only produced after a series of six rounds of negotiation, supported by a knowledge consortium of TNO, CE Delft and ECN. The participants did not agree on everything, such as the future availability of biomass. But that is not a problem since the Fuel Vision is based on adaptive policy. 'The route we have planned is based on what we know now,' Koornneef explains. 'If, in the passage of time, it becomes apparent that technological progress on biomass lags behind the plans, then we can focus more on alternatives.'

European dimension

Now that the main strategies are in place, the parties will be drawing up a concrete step-by-step plan over the coming six months. The knowledge consortium, coordinated by TNO, will verify the scientific and technical viability of these steps. However, the plan also needs to take on a European dimension, Koornneef says. 'More European discussion is needed on the route we have to take. Individual countries, for instance, often lack the scale to develop hydrogen or electric drive by themselves. The rollout of refuelling stations and charging points also has to be tackled jointly because traffic does not stop at the border. The Fuel Vision is a consequence of the European climate targets. To date many countries have been making plans in isolation.'

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