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LPG To Play Large Roles in European Fuels Future

In European efforts to move to fossil-free, carbon dioxide-free transportation fuels, natural gas and LPG will play key bridging and supplementary roles, according to a report presented Jan. 25 to the European Commission by its stakeholder expert group on future transport fuels.

Alternative fuels, said the report, have the potential gradually to replace fossil energy sources and make transportation sustainable by 2050. The EU will need an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply for transport by 2050 due to the need to reduce its impact on the environment and to concerns about the security of energy supply, said the commission's announcement. The EU's expert group has for the first time developed a comprehensive approach covering the entire transportation sector. Expected demand from all transport modes could be met through a combination of:

  • Electricity (batteries or hydrogen/fuel cells).
  • Biofuels as main options.
  • Synthetic fuels (increasingly from renewable resources) as a bridging option.
  • Methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuel.
  • LPG as supplement.

The commission is currently revising existing policies; today's report will feed into the "initiative on clean transport systems," to be launched later this year, said the announcement. "The initiative intends to develop a consistent long-term strategy for fully meeting the energy demands of the transport sector from alternative and sustainable sources by 2050," it said.

According to the expert-group report, alternative fuels are the "ultimate solution to decarbonize transport," by gradually substituting fossil energy sources. Technical and economic viability, efficient use of primary energy sources, and market acceptance, however, will be decisive for a competitive acquisition of market share by the different fuels and vehicle technologies, it said.

No single candidate for fuel substitution currently exists. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will most likely require the use of a mix of fuels that can be produced from a large variety of primary energy sources. The commission's announcement also said there is "broad agreement" that all sustainable fuels will be needed fully to meet the expected demand.

Different modes of transport require different options of alternative fuels. Fuels with higher energy density are more suited to longer-distance operations, such as road-freight transport, maritime transport, and aviation. Compatibility of new fuels with current technologies and infrastructure or the need for disruptive system changes "should be taken into account as important factors, determining in particular the economics of the different options."