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A pathway to climate neutrality

We, EU Fuel Manufacturers, have developed a potential pathway showing how we can contribute to reaching climate neutrality in the European Union by 2050.

We demonstrate how low-carbon liquid fuels can decarbonise transport, enabling all new and old road transport vehicles to be climate neutral by 2050, and securing the availability of these fuels for the aviation and maritime sectors.

Based on the work of our industry to date, we are ready to hit the ground running.

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This pathway will require an estimated €30 to €40 billion investment between 2020 and 2030, including the creation of advanced biofuel and e-fuel plants, increasing the production of low-carbon liquid fuels up to 30 Mtoe/y in 2030. Major investments could start in the next years, with first-of-a-kind biomass-to-liquid and e-fuel plants coming into operation at an industrial scale no later than 2025.

By 2050, the total investment needed is estimated between €400 and €650 billion, enabling the availability of 150 Mtoe of low-carbon liquid fuels.

Add Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) for the capture of emissions in low carbon fuels production, and, in combination with electrification and hydrogen technologies, the transport sector could reach near climate neutrality.

Our pathway is ambitious. The good news is our transformation has already begun. Our success will however depend on broad multi-stakeholder partnerships and investor confidence, as well as on political vision. We need everyone on board.

With low-carbon liquid fuels, EU Fuel Manufactures are ready to contribute to climate-neutral transport.

Scientific and technology background

This pathway was developed by Concawe, the fuel manufacturing industry’s scientific and technical body, as part of a series of studies under the Low Carbon Pathways programme. This programme aims at exploring the potential, both in quantitative terms and over a reference timeline, of the production of low-carbon liquid fuels until 2050, their effective contribution to the decarbonisation of transport and the scale and cost of the required industry transformation.

The assessment carried out by Concawe is using the European Commission’s Communication ‘A Clean Planet for All’, and more specifically the 1.5°C TECH scenario, as a reference for 2050. Aligned with the EU’s Paris Agreement commitments, this ambitious scenario achieves climate neutrality in 2050.

The assessment also:
• Investigates opportunities to achieve significant reductions in the carbon intensity of future low-carbon fuels, compared to a 100% fossil fuel reference, from the production to the end-use stage following a Well-to-Wheel (WTW) approach.

• Evaluates the potential deployment of the most promising technologies starting today and towards 2050, with a focus on sustainable food-crop-based biofuels, biomass & waste-to-liquid (BTL), hydrogenation of vegetable oils/waste & residues, and e-fuel technologies, with a view to replace fossil CO2 by either biogenic (potentially including Direct Air Capture) or recycled CO2 from industrial sites.

• Includes other key mitigation technologies (key enablers) such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Clean Hydrogen applied in refineries to reduce the carbon intensity of produced fuels as from today, and with clear synergies with alternative feedstocks.

• Considers investment levels as best estimate of the order of magnitude of technologies still in development.

As a result of the above methodology and based on the European Commission’s plans, as well as on the accelerated development and scaling-up of the low-carbon fuel technologies identified, we estimated the amount of liquid fuels required and potentially available by 2035 and beyond.

Sufficient feedstock to support an ambitious low-carbon liquid fuels strategy

The potential availability of sustainable biomass is more than enough to allow advanced and waste-based biofuel to contribute, together with e-fuels, to the decarbonisation of EU transport in line with the 2050 climate neutrality objective. This is the conclusion of an Imperial College London Consultants study commissioned by Concawe.

After allocation of biomass feedstock to bio-based products and power, industry and residential sectors, based on the European Commission’s estimate, the total share of biomass available for transport in 2050 is estimated sufficient to support the production of up to 135 Mtoe of biofuels. Considering biomass imports to the EU, the production capacity could reach up to 175 Mtoe.

The biomass sustainability criteria applied by experts from Imperial College London Consultants are those defined by the Commission under RED II, and traditional biofuel crops (first generation) are not included.

Moreover, biodiversity has also been carefully considered in the study. Based on two key principles, conservation of land with significant biodiversity values and land management without negative effects on biodiversity, the study concludes that the available feedstock will have no negative effect on biodiversity.Together with electrification and hydrogen, low-carbon liquid fuels will enable EU transport to reach its 2050 objective without leaving anybody behind. Find more about the study here.

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