The energy transition cannot be fully implemented by 2050 without their support, scientists and engineers state in a recent position paper published by ProcessNet, the German platform for process engineering, chemical engineering and technical chemistry.
One of the main reasons for the indispensability of alternative liquid fuels is that a complete electrification of the road transport and heating sector is not feasible by 2050. For this, the share of regenerative electricity would have to be increased at least sevenfold; that is unrealistic. It would also require huge investments for changes in infrastructure. Moreover, some transport sectors are very difficult to electrify, such as aviation, shipping and heavy truck transport.
According to the authors of the position paper, all relevant studies indicate that even after 2040 liquid fuels will play a dominant role in the transport sector, despite all efforts in the area of electric, natural gas and hydrogen mobility. Minimizing the production costs of advanced biofuels is therefore of great importance, especially in times of low oil prices. Europe still has the chance to become a technological leader in this area, but is likely to be overtaken by other countries outside the EU.
The following recommendations for action have been derived from these facts:
- Expand the resource base on biomass, waste and residual materials as well as CO2, and approve the following resources as a basis for advanced alternative fuels (gaseous and liquid): biogenic waste and residual materials (e.g. straw, waste and construction timber, sewage sludge, waste grease and other food wastes), secondary raw materials and by-products from waste treatment (e.g. plastic and rubber waste, lubricants recycling residues, solvent residues), hydrogen from renewable resources, and CO2 from biogenic and non biogenic processes as well as from the air;
- Approve co-processing to accelerate the raw materials change, for example: allow fats and fatty oils, waste fats, plastic waste and residual materials to be co-processed together with fossil raw materials in refineries or biomass, waste and residual materials together with fossil raw materials in gasification and liquefaction processes;
- Pay greater attention to the production of advanced alternative liquid fuels in advanced biorefinery concepts;
- Identify synergies of processes for the production of advanced alternative liquid fuels from surplus electricity (Power to Gas or Power to Liquid);
- Intensively support research and development with the aim to accelerate the market introduction of advanced alternative liquid fuels and create reliable legal frameworks with a perspective beyond 2020.
The complete position paper can be downloaded from UFOP website (link below).