Why wait? Why hesitate? Biofuels today present a market-ready and cost-competitive alternative to fossil fuels in transport. Increasing the use of biofuels in transport can lead to substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions in the short to medium term.
“Scania has demonstrated that it is possible to operate trucks and buses in Sweden on biofuels and reduce environmental impact cost-effectively. To further strengthen the business case we need a stable regulatory framework,” Björn Westman, Scania’s Head of Engine Development, said at a seminar in Brussels yesterday. “Unfortunately, however, there is currently no level playing field for biofuels in terms of taxation and political support giving a competitive advantage to fossil fuels.”
Stable legislative framework
Scania underlined that a long-term stable and ambitious legislative framework for transport fuels up to 2030 is needed for sustainable biofuel deployment and uptake. This could take the form of a renewable energy sub-target for transport for 2030.
A recent study by the European Climate Foundation concluded that by 2030, 16 percent of transport fuels could be sustainably replaced by advanced biofuels from waste and residue materials. Björn Westman argued that even using crop-based biofuels is without risk. “Biofuels in general open for a strong substitution of fossil fuels that are much worse for the climate.”
Renewable ethanol, for example, is a relatively low-cost alternative fuel and is proven to be one of the most cost-effective carbon abatement tools in transport. Renewable ethanol based on local resources can be produced sustainably. On average, European ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent. With continuous sustainable intensification, double cropping and higher frequency of harvesting, significant and increasing amounts of conventional ethanol could be produced sustainably in Europe without negative impact. “However,” Björn Westman added, “we cannot focus on a single fuel, we must use and develop all the commercially available alternatives.”
Combined low carbon action
The road ahead towards a low carbon, or even totally fossil fuel free, road transport sector depends on a successful combination of three pillars, according to Scania.
“We need to improve energy efficiency of engines, whole vehicles and driving strategies,” said Björn Westman. “We need to make transport smarter with better management of logistics on roads. We need better route planning and better fill rates on the trucks. When we have done that, we have saved perhaps 50–80 percent of the energy that is used today. But we still need to substitute a lot of fossil fuels. That is why we need renewable energy.”