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Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Clean Fuels

The following report was prepared and published by our sister platform SPEEDA—December 2022.

Overview

Despite Being a Solution for Hard-to-Electrify Sectors, Clean Fuels Still Have Limited Practical Applications

As the world races towards carbon neutrality, spurred on by the 2015 Paris Agreement, changes are also taking place in the transport sector, where the electrification of transportation vehicles—in particular, electric vehicles (EVs)—is on the rise. This move is driven by the transport sector’s high level of emissions, which accounted for accounted for 37% of global CO2 emissions from end-use sectors(*) in 2021, as per the International Energy Agency (IEA).
However, electrifying all transportation vehicles is not easily achievable, especially in developing markets where EVs themselves would be too costly and the charging infrastructure for them slower to roll out. While the demand for internal combustion vehicles is anticipated to decline, research has indicated that EVs are expected to comprise only around 30–50% of the global fleet in 2050. Moreover, batteries are heavy and require time to charge, and fossil fuels outperform them significantly in terms of energy-to-weight ratio. Trucks, ships, and aircraft thus face a higher hurdle in electrification compared to passenger cars—not only would these larger vehicles need significant quantities of batteries, but the charging time is also a deterrent for adoption as it decreases operation time.
As such, there is a growing need for clean fuels—alternative fuels that can be used in internal combustion vehicles instead of petrol or diesel and contribute to the goal of achieving net-zero emissions. Clean fuels can be seen as a step towards decarbonisation as they use non-petroleum feedstocks, including CO2 itself, waste oils and other sustainable raw materials, and biomass, a carbon-neutral source.

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