It’s official. The European Union has presented the provisional agreement of the Fit for 55 packagereached by the Council and the European Parliament to toughen the CO emission reduction targetstwo for new vehicles in which, as expected, a reduction of CO emissionstwo 100% in 2035. Or in other words, the sale of everything that is not electric cars – battery or hydrogen – and therefore diesel, gasoline and hybrids will be prohibited.
But the surprise and the real bombshell of the European Union lies in the fact that there will be an exception. The exception we have been talking about for a long time. The solution that you can afford by selling diesel and gasolinecars with any type of internal combustion engine, beyond 2035, it is none other than neutral synthetic fuels.
The European Union will allow diesel and gasoline cars to continue to be sold, if they work solely and exclusively using neutral synthetic fuels.
The European Union will accept the sale of cars with an internal combustion engine beyond 2035, if they use neutral synthetic fuels
The solution that will allow you to continue selling diesel and gasoline
Neutral synthetic fuels are those that, first, and as synthetic, do not have a fossil origin, but are produced at an industrial level using different raw materials. Second, and as neutral, they are fuels in which the COtwo generated in its combustion has been compensated in its production. These fuels are produced using renewable energy and, depending on the raw material used, we could define two types of neutral synthetic fuel, those produced with residues that when used to create fuel allow a saving of COtwo generated to the atmosphere by the treatment they require, those produced by CO capture technologiestwo.
The former can be produced using waste whose treatment generates COtwo. For example, we have seen how synthetic fuel can be produced using paper pulp. If the COtwo that is saved by transforming it into fuel is equivalent to that generated in its combustion, it is considered that its carbon footprint is zero and, therefore, that it is a neutral synthetic fuel.
The latter are perhaps the most interesting. CO capture technologies are being developedtwo which, as its name suggests, allow CO to be capturedtwo from air. If the COtwo captured to produce a fuel is at least the same that will be generated in its combustion, it can be said that we are dealing with a neutral synthetic fuel.
The COtwo captured or saved in the production of synthetic fuels must be greater than that generated in their combustion so that they are considered truly neutral fuels
The solution proposed by the European Union
At the end of June, we anticipated the possibility that the European Union would consider neutral synthetic fuels as a valid option beyond 2035 and to allow cars with internal combustion engines to continue to be sold, as long as they guarantee that they will work solely and exclusively using this type of fuel.
In the document itself Fit for 55 proposal it is established that the measure has been carried out after the consultations carried out with the interested parties. And that, from now on, how this rule is implemented should be assessed, which, among other things, should define exactly which fuels are considered neutralattending to the two casuistry to which we pointed out in the previous section.
For example, the European Union has already defined what is considered sustainable aviation fuel. And in this specific case, sustainable fuels will be considered those that use minimum proportions of fuels that originate in waste treatment, or in biofuel, ranging between 2% and 85%, in objectives that will be implemented between 2025 and 2050.
They have already overcome the regulatory challenge, but now they must ensure that neutral synthetic fuels can be produced in industrial volumes and at a cost that allows them to be viable
Will it be the salvation of diesel and gasoline?
Neutral synthetic fuels have overcome their first challengethat of being accepted as a solution with a zero carbon footprint that, therefore, would not impact the calculation of CO emissionstwo. But it still has to face many other challenges, starting with reaching industrial production volumes and putting its cost in figures that make it a viable solution. The production of neutral synthetic fuels is expensive, both in economic and energy terms. And even reaching large volumes, it is not expected that as much synthetic fuel can be produced as that obtained from fossil origin, nor that its price can be comparable to that of fossil fuels.
This same year, Porsche, one of the manufacturers that is promoting these synthetic fuels the most, stated that they expect the cost per liter to reach 2 dollars per liter. In any case, synthetic fuels are not expected to be a massive and generalized solution, but rather an alternative to continue marketing special, sports, or limited series cars.
In fact, the European Union hopes that all these measures will make electric cars, at some point, cheaper than cars with internal combustion engines. But as we are already seeing, with the increase in car prices, everything indicates that this turning point will occur not because of the cheaper electric cars, but because of the increase in internal combustion. And it is that the European Union will introduce sanctions of €95 per gram of COtwo/kilometre and per car sold, the excess of average emissions, above the objectives, reached by the manufacturers that market their cars in the European Union.