EU launches clean fuel strategy; EU-wide standards of equipment and binding targets for infrastructure
The European Commission announced a package of measures to ensure the build-up of alternative fuel stations across Europe with common standards for their design and use. Policy initiatives so far have mostly addressed the actual fuels and vehicles, without considering fuels distribution. Efforts to provide incentives have been un-co-ordinated and insufficient, the EC said.
Clean fuel adoption is being held back by three main barriers, the EC said: the high cost of vehicles; a low level of consumer acceptance; and the lack of recharging and refueling stations. Refueling stations are not being built because there are not enough vehicles; vehicles are not sold at competitive prices because there is not enough demand; and consumers do not buy the vehicles because they are expensive and the stations are not there. The Commission is therefore proposing a package of binding targets on Member States for a minimum level of infrastructure for clean fuels such as electricity, hydrogen and natural gas, as well as common EU wide standards for equipment needed.
A consistent long-term strategy on alternative fuels has to meet the energy needs of all transport modes and be consistent with the EU 2020 strategy, including decarbonization. However, the alternatives available and their cost differ between modes. The benefits of alternative fuels are initially larger in urban areas where pollutant emissions are of great concern and in freight transport where alternatives have reached a sufficient level of maturity. For certain modes of transport, in particular long-distance road freight and aviation, limited alternatives are available. There is no single fuel solution for the future of mobility and all main alternative fuel options must be pursued, with a focus on the needs of each transport mode.
A strategic approach for the Union to meet the long-term needs of all transport modes must therefore build on a comprehensive mix of alternative fuels. All options need to be included in the strategy without giving preference to any particular fuel, thereby keeping technology neutrality.—“Clean Power for Transport: A European alternative fuels strategy”
The Clean Power for Transport Package consists of a Communication on a European alternative fuels strategy, a Directive focusing on infrastructure and standards and an accompanying document describing an action plan for the development of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in shipping.
|Coverage of transport modes and travel range by the main alternative fuels. Source: EC. Click to enlarge.|
The main measures proposed are:
Electricity. The situation for electric charging points varies greatly across the EU. The leading countries are Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Under this proposal a minimum number of publicly accessible recharging points (10% of the total number of recharging points) using a common plug will be required for each Member State, based on the number of electric vehicles planned in the Member States. The aim is to put in place a critical mass of charging points so that companies will mass produce the cars at reasonable prices.
The total estimated cost for the proposed development of electric charging points in the EU will be approximately €8 billion (US$10.7 billion).
A common EU-wide plug is an essential element for the roll out of this fuel. To end uncertainty in the market, the Commission has announced the use of the “Type 2” plug as the common standard for the whole of Europe.
(In response to the package, the CHAdeMO association requested the European Commission consider a dual charging system for DC fast charging with CHADeMO and CCS (combined charging system) that will allow use by the majority of current and future electric vehicles. From a cost point of view, the association argued, there are significant commonalities between the two devices of more than 80%, with the only difference relating to communication protocol and charging gun.)
Hydrogen. Germany, Italy and Denmark already have a significant number of hydrogen refueling stations although some of them are not publicly accessible. Common standards are still needed for certain components such as fuel hoses. Under this proposal, existing filling stations will be linked up to form a network with common standards ensuring the mobility of Hydrogen vehicles. This applies to the 14 Member States which currently have a Hydrogen network.
Biofuels already have nearly 5% of the market. They work as blended fuels and do not require any specific infrastructure. A key challenge will be to ensure their sustainability.
Natural Gas (Liquefied (LNG) and Compressed (CNG). LNG is used for waterborne transport both at sea and on inland waterways. LNG infrastructure for fueling vessels is at a very early stage, with only Sweden having a small scale LNG bunkering facility for sea going vessels, with plans in several other Member States. The Commission is proposing that LNG refueling stations be installed in all 139 maritime and inland ports on the Trans European Core Network by 2020 and respectively 2025. These are not major gas terminals, but either fixed or mobile refueling stations. This covers all major EU ports.
Liquefied natural gas is also used for trucks, but there are only 38 filling stations in the EU. The Commission is proposing that by 2020, refueling stations are installed every 400 km along the roads of the Trans European Core Network.
Compressed natural gas is mainly used for cars. One million vehicles currently use this fuel representing 0.5% of the fleet—the industry aims to increase this figure ten-fold by 2020. The Commission proposal will ensure that publicly accessible refueling points, with common standards, are available Europe-wide with maximum distances of 150 Km by 2020.
LPG. No action is foreseen for liquefied petroleum gas as the core infrastructure is already established.
Member States will be able to implement these changes without necessarily involving public spending by changing local regulations to encourage private sector investment and behavior, the Commission suggested. EU support is already available from TEN-T funds, cohesion and structural funds.