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Global Futures Report 2013 - Transport

30 RENEWABLES GLOBAL FUTURES REPORT 02 INTEGRATED FUTURES: CHALLENGES AND POSSIBILITIES Transport Integration of renewable energy in road transport has so far involved the practice of blending 5–20% shares of ethanol and biodiesel with conventional vehicle fuels, and to a lesser extent, use of high-blend fuels with 75–100% biofuel shares. (High-blend ethanol requires specially designed or “flexible fuel” vehicles.) In total, biofuels supplied the equivalent of about 3% of global road transport energy in 2011, so the contribution of renewable energy to transport remains limited.50 In the future, there are several new vehicle technologies and fuel types possible that would greatly accelerate integration of renew- able energy into transport. These include advanced biofuels, electric vehicles (including plug-in hybrids), hydrogen or methanol fuel-cell vehicles, natural gas vehicles, and compressed air vehicles. In the cases of these new vehicle technologies, renewable energy could supply a much greater share of transport energy by providing the electricity needed for electric vehicles, and by using renew- ables to manufacture hydrogen or synthetic natural gas fuels.51, a (See also transport in Chapter 4 and biofuels in Chapter 6.) There are ongoing debates about the viability of all of these techno- logies. Debates about the future of electric vehicles involve battery cost, performance, and cycle life, and the prospects for continued battery technology improvement. Debates about hydrogen revolve around fuel-cell cost and performance, on-board hydrogen storage technology, and refueling infrastructure. Debates about natural gas vehicles revolve around refueling infrastructure and the efficiency of electrolyzer technology necessary for converting renewable elec- tricity into synthetic natural gas.52 Experts offered many diverging views on how serious these issues were and over what time frames they could be resolved. However, many were of the firm opinion that renewable-powered electric vehicles would eventually dominate transport, some believing that this would begin to happen before 2020, and others seeing a “take off” in the period 2020–2030.53 Key to integration of renewables will be much more efficient, light- weight vehicles that can be powered by smaller amounts of biofuels or that utilize smaller, lighter batteries or fuel cells for electric vehi- cles, emphasized some experts. Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute, in their book Reinventing Fire (2011), make the case for super-efficient vehicles that require only one-quarter to one-tenth the energy of vehicles today, while still providing conventional size, performance, safety, and convenience. Key elements of their vision are lightweight materials, notably carbon fiber (as used today in the Boeing 787 and Airbus 380), and advanced manufacturing tech- niques and design that make the transition from metal to carbon fiber roughly cost-neutral.54 Another key will be electric “micro-vehicles,” including small one- person or two-person commuter cars and two-wheeled cycles and scooters. In developing countries today, particularly India and China, markets for these micro-vehicles are already grow- ing rapidly, noted several experts, who thought that develop- ing country markets for such vehicles could become orders of magnitude larger than in developed countries. In general, many experts pointed to a growing diversity of vehicle types, sizes, and purposes, with more differentiated service niches, coupled with a wider array of ownership and mobility-service business models.55 (See business models in Chapter 3.) Conservative scenarios, particularly those by oil companies, gen- erally project the continued dominance of fossil fuels in transport, with modest increases in biofuels use, and electric vehicles pos- sibly making inroads by 2030–2040. For example, Shell says: “… biofuels are expected to play an increasing role in helping to meet demand for transport fuel. Shell predicts that their share of the global transport fuel mix will increase from 3% today to 9% by 2030.” BP says, “Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, and the use of compressed natural gas in transport is likely to grow, but without making a material contribution to total transport before 2030.” And ExxonMobil “expects to see growth in plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, along with compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas powered vehicles. However, these will account for only about 5 percent of the global fleet in 2040, their growth limited by cost and functionality considerations.”56 (See also transport shares in Chapter 1.) Moderate scenarios project significant use of electric vehicles after 2025–2030 and much greater use of advanced biofuels. For example, the IEA WEO (2010) says, “electricity used in electric vehicles or in plug-in hybrids plays an important role in meeting transport energy demand in all three scenarios, especially in the “450” scenario.” The WEO “450” scenario, the highest-renewable case, projects a 20 TWh aggregate battery capacity of electric vehi- cles and plug-in hybrids by 2035, representing hundreds of millions of vehicles. But the IEA notes that even in this case, only 45% of the electricity supplied to these vehicles would come from renew- ables, given the projected share of electricity from renewables in 2035. Thus, its “450” scenario puts greater emphasis on advanced biofuels.57 High-renewables scenarios project up to 50–80% of trans- port energy from renewables by 2050 from a mixture of electric vehicles (including plug-in hybrids), hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, and advanced biofuels. A 70% renewables share is projected in the a) Of course, electric vehicles charging from centralized grids use power from all sources, not just renewables, and the proportion of power from renewables depends on several technical and operational factors; see Endnote 51 for this chapter.

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