The Challenge
“The transport sector is in a critical transition … measures to increase efficiency and reduce energy demand must be deepened and extended”
– International Energy Agency (IEA)
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Decarbonising transport

Transport is responsible for around 23% of all human CO2 emissions, increasing at a faster rate than any other sector. Experts agree that reducing the impact of transport will be critical in combatting climate change. This our mission at Green Fuels.

Transport now most polluting sector

UK Government figures from 2016 show that transport emitted more greenhouse gas (GHG) than electricity or any other sector. UK transport emissions have fallen by only 2% since 1990, while overall emissions are down by 41%.

Most transport emissions still come from OECD (developed) countries, but most recent growth has come from Asia. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), use of motor transport is closely linked to growth in GDP and rates of CO2 growth since 1990 have been highest in the fast-growing economies of Asia.

 Dominance of fossil fuel

In 2010, 94% of transport energy demand came from fossil fuels, according to the IEA. Despite the clear need to reduce carbon emissions, global oil production is still increasing. Exploration by oil and gas majors added more than 12 billion barrels to oilfield reserves in 2019. “50 years’ worth of oil, and looking for more,” reported Forbes in January 2020.

It is recognized by some in the oil and gas industry that an “energy transition” needs to happen, but evidence for action is often lacking. One oil major is reported to have invested $25bn into exploration in 2018, more than 80 times as much as in its carbon offsetting schemes.

Climate change

Climate change caused by humans is real and is happening now. Its effects are already clear in melting glaciers and sea ice, in extreme weather events and in rising sea levels. According to the IPCC, “continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes … increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” Climate change will likely be the defining challenge of our generation and our children’s, and we believe we have a duty to act.

Carbon and the climate

There is more GHG in the atmosphere than at any time in the last 800,000 years. CO2 levels have increased by 40% since the pre-industrial era and are rising faster than ever before. About half of this increase has happened in the last 40 years, according to the IPCC.

Burning fuel releases CO2. It’s critically important to ask where the carbon in that CO2 has come from. Biogenic carbon – from biomass grown in recent years – makes no net contribution to the atmosphere because the carbon released from biomass was recently absorbed. Fossil fuels release carbon absorbed 300 million years ago and can only increase GHG levels today, even if captured and re-used.

Meeting the challenge

Sustainable fuels are a key part of any strategy to decarbonise transport

There is no single answer to reducing the climate impact of transport, and no perfect solution. Alongside technology improvements, behavioural changes will have to happen. These may be easy, like doing more shopping online, or working from home; they may be more difficult, like reducing the amount we fly. What drives us at Green Fuels is ensuring that sustainable, net-zero-carbon fuels are included in the mix, which will mean that we can continue to move goods, to travel, to make the world a small place, providing we do so responsibly.

Vehicle technology

Improvements in drive-train design, aerodynamicsweight reduction have significant potential to improve fuel economy of all types of vehicle 

New propulsion systems

Hybrid and fully-electric propulsion systems, together with renewable power generation, give high carbon savings  

Low-carbon fuels

For existing vehicle fleets, for heavy freightor where EV infrastructure does not yet exist, sustainable fuels allow immediate carbon savings

Aviation

Aviation is an important application for sustainable fuels, because the energy needed to move a large jet long distances can only be supplied by a liquid fuel. No current battery comes close to having enough energy density. 360 million tons of fuel were consumed by the aviation industry in 2019; only a very small amount of sustainable fuel is used by the industry. There are several approved routes to make sustainable aviation fuel, and Green Fuels is very active in this area, with our proprietary SABR technology giving us the ability to supply fully waste-derived sustainable aviation fuel.

Shipping

Moving goods by sea is efficient on a tonne-kilometre basis, but the volume of marine traffic means that this sector accounts for around 3% of CO2 emissions. Efficiencies in vessel design are possible – but ships are expensive, long-lived assets, so it will take a long time to upgrade the world’s fleet. Electrification is not a viable option for large ships on long routes. Most ships today use marine diesel or heavy fuel oil, and substituting these with sustainable alternatives could make an important contribution to decarbonization, and this is an important part of our strategy at Green Fuels.