Review of electrofuel feasibility—prospects for road, ocean, and air transport

To meet climate targets the emissions of greenhouse gases from transport need to be reduced considerably.

Electrofuels (e-fuels) produced from low-CO2 electricity, water, and carbon (or nitrogen) are potential low-climate-impact transportation fuels. The purpose of this review is to provide a technoeconomic assessment of the feasibility and potential of e-fuels for road, ocean, and air transport.

The assessment is based on a review of publications discussing e-fuels for one or more transport modes. For each transport mode, (a) e-fuel options are mapped, (b) cost per transport unit (e.g. vehicle km) and carbon abatement costs are estimated and compared to conventional options, (c) prospects and challenges are highlighted, and (d) policy context is described.

Carbon abatement costs for e-fuels (considering vehicle cost, fuel production and distribution cost) are estimated to be in the range 110–1250 € tonne−1 CO2 with e-gasoline and e-diesel at the high end of the range.

The investigated combined biofuel and e-fuels production pathways (based on forest residues and waste) are more cost-competitive than the stand-alone e-fuel production pathways, but the global availability of sustainable biomass is limited making these pathways more constrained.

While the potential for e-fuels to decarbonize the transport sector has been discussed extensively in the literature, many uncertainties in terms of production costs, vehicle costs and environmental performance remain. It is too early to rule out or strongly promote particular e-fuels for different transport modes. F

or e-fuels to play a significant role in transportation, their attractiveness relative to other transport options needs to be improved. Incentives will be needed for e-fuels to be cost-effective and increased clarity on how e-fuels are linked to existing policies is needed.

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Last updated: 2022-11-02

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute has a wide environmental profile. We combine applied research and development with close collaboration between industry and the public sphere. Our consultancy is evidence-based, and our research is characterized by interdisciplinary science and system thinking.

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