While physical logistics networks remain indispensable, electrification in local transport is already making an important contribution. However, widespread commercial use of electric drive on long-haul and heavy-duty routes is not yet feasible. This is where sustainable fuels play a crucial role as they could be pivotal in reducing the climate impact of transport emissions.
Deutsche Post DHL Group has now published a new study—Sustainable Fuels for Logistics—presenting the current status of trends and developments in the sector, comparing and evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of the respective drives, and sharing its experiences from practical application.
Today, the term “alternative” is used for all fuels that are not a part of the fossil fuel group—diesel, gasoline, heavy oil and kerosene. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) are considered alternative fuels. However, they still originate from fossil sources, making them non-sustainable as a result. Truly sustainable fuels come from renewable sources, have no negative impact on the environment when they are burned and do not produce emissions of greenhouse gas.—“Sustainable Fuels for Logistics”
In addition, experts from science, associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide insights into the possible uses and current limitations of sustainable fuels. At the beginning of October, Deutsche Post DHL Group reiterated the importance of sustainability as it announced its new “Strategy 2025”.
Our aim is to achieve zero-emission logistics by 2050. But this goal cannot be achieved with efficiency measures and a modern fleet alone. We also need to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to clean alternative energy sources. This is why, strong cross-border and cross-sectoral cooperation between the political, business and scientific communities is so crucial.—Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group
Key findings of the study:
E-mobility is the technology of choice in the transport sector. But its use is currently restricted to short-range transports.
Drop-in fuels are compatible with current technology and can replace fossil fuels.
Non-drop-in fuels require modified engines or new technology.
Second-generation biofuels and e-fuels are beginning to gain a foothold.
Biofuels and energy must come from renewable sources.
Production of plant-based biofuels should not lead to monocultures and the destruction of crop land and rain forests.
Progress can only be accelerated through dialogue and coordinated action.
A global knowledge base is needed if we are to develop common standards.
Economic incentives could remove barriers for companies.
Some of the alternative fuels available today can already help significantly reduce emissions with minor or no modifications to engines and infrastructures. Concerns about the availability and sustainability of biofuels are leading to a growing interest in what are known as e-fuels. These synthetic fuels can be produced from renewable energies and carbon dioxide.
There’s a lot to be said for e-fuels. They can be seamlessly integrated into existing vehicles and infrastructure. At present, however, they are not economically competitive. And, as with e-mobility, there is still not enough green electricity available to ensure that their production really is climate-neutral.
We believe synthetic fuels will reach mass market viability in the next five to ten years. In our view, progress will depend on a cross-border, cross-sectoral approach and the development of global standards to promote the production and use of sustainable fuels internationally.—Dr. Thomas Ogilvie, Labor Director and Board Member for Human Resources and Corporate Incubations at Deutsche Post DHL Group