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News announcement26 May 2021

Low-emission alternative energy for transport: state of play of research and innovation funding in the EU

A JRC study analyses R&I in low-emission alternative energy for transport in Europe excluding energy and fuel production.

Transition periods and proper use of various alternative fuels are important because new technologies need time to be developed.
Transition periods and proper use of various alternative fuels are important because new technologies need time to be developed.
© chokniti, stock adobe 2021

About 2.3bn euro has been invested in research and innovation (R&I) for low-emission alternative energy for transport focusing on tank-to-wheel emissions and therefore excluding energy and fuel production, between 2007 and 2020. Road transport has received more funding than any other transport mode.

The recently published report of European Commission’s Joint Research Centre analyses R&I in low-emission alternative energy for transport in Europe excluding energy andfuel production, focusing on selected EU funded projects from TRIMIS with end dates from 2019 onwards.

The Transport Research and Innovation Monitoring and Information System (TRIMIS) is the European Commission’s (EC) instrument for mapping transport technology trends and research and innovation capacities.

Main findings

  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) refuelling stations (25 projects and €380.8 m) followed by biofuels for road transport (31 projects and €236.9 m) and alternative aviation fuels (10 projects and €373 m) are among the researched technologies with the highest investments. This specifically involves tank-to-wheel energy and emissions (i.e. the analysis excludes well-to-tank).
  • Hydrogen receives the largest share, with 67 projects and the total project value exceeding €1.2 bn. Methane based fuels (e.g. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), LNG) receive the second greatest attention concerning the number of projects (60) and the level of funding (€944 m), whilst there are only seven research projects still ongoing relating to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
  • New technologies and changes need time, therefore transition periods are very important along with proper use of the various alternative fuels available.
  • The fuels with the highest economic potential are already on the market (e.g. Methane based fuels and LPG), but they have a limited overall environmental advantage over conventional fuels (petrol and diesel). On the other hand, renewable fuels with a higher potential to decarbonisation are are either not available in sufficient quantities (e.g. low indirect land-use change risk conventional biofuels) or still not commercially viable (e.g. Advanced Biofuels, Hydrogen and Synthetic Paraffinic Fuels), and there is not enough infrastructure for their deployment across Europe.
  • Alternative fuel policies should take into account the current state of the art of low-emission alternative energy for transport. They should evaluate all potential impacts to set realistic targets that ensure the decarbonisation of the transport sector at the highest possible speed to achieve the EU’s climate objectives. The Horizon Europe (2021-2027) research and innovation funding programme will promote forward looking technologies and avoid lock-in into fossil infrastructures and technologies.

Related Content

Research and innovation in low-emission alternative energy for transport in Europe

Details

Publication date
26 May 2021