The great European fuel shift?

(EurActiv, 26 Feb 2018) Europe’s electricity industry appears to have come to terms with the reality that wind and solar power will be central to a shift away from fossil fuels, especially coal-fired power generation. Now policy makers in Brussels are swivelling the spotlight towards transport, and the biggest fossil fuel of all: oil.

Changes in policy and public sentiment are already driving a shift away from diesel to petrol cars. Now Europe’s fuel suppliers face the prospect of a seismic shift in market dynamics, one which could see consumers in their hundreds of thousands abandon the internal combustion engine altogether.

That, at least, is what European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič envisages. He said as much on Tuesday, at the launch of a new report examining the potential impact of a dramatic move away from oil: that he would like to see every third car running on electricity by 2030. “And we are willing to work very closely with our car manufacturers to make this happen,” he added.

Šefčovič was speaking in Brussels at the launch of a report commissioned by the European Climate Foundation (ECF), which seeks to add to momentum driven by concerns over climate change and air quality with a clear cut economic case for moving away from oil.

The ‘Fuelling Europe’s Future‘ report was the result of a collaboration that involved, among others, the giant Renault-Nissan automotive alliance and BMW.

With 89% of the oil used in Europe imported from abroad, the study argues that replacing imports with domestically produced energy could keep an annual €49 billion circulating in the domestic economy instead of being handed to Russia and unstable Middle Eastern states.

This is based on a model where a quarter of new vehicle sales in 2030 are zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) – plug-in, battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles – and a further quarter are fully hybridised, that is combining the above technology with a back-up internal combustion engine.

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EurActiv, 26 Feb 2018: The great European fuel shift?