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Long-term developments in the transport sector – comparing biofuel and hydrogen roadmaps
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 7-6-2007
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-M--07-075 Conference Paper
Number of pages: Full text:
14 Download PDF  (353kB)

Presented at: ECEEE 2007 Summer Study, La Colle sur Loup, France, 4-9 juni 2007.

In view of climate change and rapidly declining oil reserves, alternative fuels for transport meet ever-increasing attention. Two promising options are biofuels, of which the market penetration has already started, and hydrogen, which, when used in fuel cell cars, could lead to zero-emission vehicles. This paper draws on the results of two ongoing EU projects - Refuel and HyWays – in which roadmaps are being developed for respectively biofuels and hydrogen . An analysis of synergies and possible conflicts between these road maps indicates that their most important potential conflict lies in competition for biomass as a feedstock. In this context, the hydrogen-fuel cell route has the advantage of a higher efficiency (in terms of km driven per ha or tonne biomass) than biofuels. Furthermore, hydrogen is more flexible in feedstock, since it can also be produced in a climate-friendly way from fossil resources such as coal. The key technology development synergy between biofuels and hydrogen is in gasification technology. This technology is required both for biomass-to-liquids, one of the more promising biofuels, and for hydrogen production from biomass and/or coal. The transportation sector will need both options in the long term: while hydrogen may become dominant for passenger cars, greening of long-distance heavy duty transport will become dependent on a bio-based diesel substitute. Finally, although both options are policy-dependent on the short term, policies will be more crucial for hydrogen than for biofuels since the former has a more disruptive character.

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