Since Porsche is investing several Millions into an eFuel pilot plant the discussion is lively.
2021 the Porsche company announced their investment into a pilot plant for eFuels in Chile, South America, where they want to be the first integrated and commercialized plant for synthetic and climate neutral fuel. This project is accompanied by Siemens Energy and other international companies (energy companies Enel and AME as well as ENAP, a mineral oil company).
But what exactly are eFuels?
eFuels are as mentioned before synthetic and climate neutral fuels. They get produced by converting water and existing CO2 from the air combined with neutral energy from sun or wind. The big advantage is that it can be used in already existing combustion engines in cars, planes and container boats making them neutral through a simple switch of fuel. Therefore also the whole distribution infrastructure could be used.
eFuels make renewable energy storable and transportable by using the “Power-to-Liquid” process.
For a smooth transition in the different sectors until the eFuel production network is able to provide enough fuel they are easy to mix with existing fuel types.
The diagram shows that over the next decades it will be possible to increase the percentage of eFuel and simultaneously decrease the production prices resulting into a totally CO2 neutral usage.
Why is this relevant for the Generation Z?
First and foremost it gives hope. eFuels open up a possibility to turn heavy industries with high investments into engines and energy supply into a climate neutral production. It also means that we won’t need to compromise in travel or globalization. But this doesn’t mean that our consumption can stay as it is. Until eFuels find their way technically, meet the supply and are implemented seamless into our infrastructure every CO2 reduction counts. We have to find a good compromise between technical solutions and consumption reduction. In the end technical inventions and innovations will make the CO2 shift possible if we work on them and give them the chance they deserve.
What does this mean for the automotive industry?
In my opinion in the very long run eFuels won’t have an effect on the automotive industry. There are other industries in which the technology will be much more effective since planes or even a tanker for example will be hard to be equipped with batteries. In the short run eFuels will give the possibility to bridge the gap from solely combustion engines to electric vehicles in areas where the charging infrastructure takes longer to build up or in the area for sport cars/ old timers. Strategically an investment into eFuels could give the automotive manufacturers the freedom to concentrate their resources onto the development of a perfect BEV product range without loosing customers on the way who can’t afford BEV’s yet or can’t comply their car usage with the infrastructure for the next 5 years.
Looking at the complex automotive industry the manufacturers will always be able to find a way for the usage of eFuels somewhere in their supply chain. Be it at the extraction of production materials, in the production process, in transportation or for the end costumer. An investment into research as well as production nearly can’t go wrong for the automotive industry according to my knowledge today.
Written by: Maxime Schönberg
Image sources: www.newsroom.porsche.com; efuel-alliance.eu;