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Ricardo: e-fuels better focused on aviation and shipping rather than road

A new Ricardo report finds that the use of synthesized e-fuels should be prioritized for shipping and aviation ahead of road transport where other forms of electrification are more effective.

The report, Renewable electricity requirements to decarbonize transport in Europe with electric vehicles, hydrogen and electrofuels, was produced on behalf of transport campaign group Transport & Environment. The purpose of the report is to investigate whether a number of potential decarbonization pathways are achievable within the limits of supply-side constraints such as the renewable energy generation potential of the European Union.

The following were among the key messages for policy makers concerning specific modes of transport.

  1. Direct electrification should be the focus for road transport, wherever possible, as it is the most efficient path to decarbonization.

  2. Road transport will decarbonize more rapidly than shipping and aviation to 2030, but to decarbonize shipping and aviation will require significantly more renewable electricity to produce the required levels of e-fuels by 2050 (projected to be 30% of the total).

  3. Policy decisions about zero-emission heavy-duty trucks in the early 2020s will have significant ramifications for electricity demand by 2030 and 2050.

  4. Small changes to the fuel mix of light road vehicles has a large impact on electricity requirements.

  5. The renewable electricity requirements to decarbonize aviation are relatively insensitive to fuel choice because all scenarios considered rely heavily on e-kerosene as a synthesized liquid fuel.

The EU has the renewable electricity potential to achieve economy-wide decarbonization, but the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. The choices we make today could have massive repercussions on power demand in the future.

—Geert De Cock, electricity and energy manager at T&E



Synthetic fuels for aircraft with hybrid turbine engines.


Renewably produced electricity for flight. Small planes of 8-20 passengers based on VTOL electric supersonic jets. The physics works. No large planes, no large airports. Take off from anywhere, land anywhere, cross the continent in a fraction of the time.

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