The EU regulation is not yet legally binding, but several Member States do not welcome the planned phasing out of combustion engines from 2035. In particular, not allowing alternative climate-neutral powertrains, such as e-fuels in combustion engines, is seen by many as a major mistake. But is that really so?
Norway is generally regarded as the country of electromobility. However, when you take a closer look at the numbers, disappointment sets in.
At the end of 2021, a total of 2,893,987 passenger cars were registered in the far north, of which 460,734 were real electric vehicles. That is only 16 percent of the total number of vehicles. Through May 2022, the stock of electric vehicles has increased by 46 573 units to about half a million units.
More than 80 percent of passenger cars still have combustion engines. However, there is no doubt that Norway will have electrified the lion’s share of its private transport by 2035. But even there it will be difficult.
In Germany, the share of electric vehicles is even smaller. With 48.5 million passenger cars (CBA), there are currently less than 1 million genuine electric vehicles on German roads. No wonder. Germany also entered e-mobility much later, and delivery problems are currently holding back the faster growth of e-mobility.
Moreover, Germany was rather clumsy with subsidies and the so-called “environmental bonus”. For example, while Norway initially waived luxury tax and VAT on electric vehicles, the German bureaucracy was once again rampant.
The big goal is climate protection. How this is to be achieved, at least in Germany, is approached very differently than elsewhere. There they take a more pragmatic approach and try to reduce the CO2emissions as quickly as possible. This has worked quite poorly in Germany so far. Thanks to ideological narrow-mindedness and a rather mindless energy policy, CO . is rising2level in Germany currently instead of letting it fall.
SUVs and coal-fired power stations
In Germany, but also in Europe, it is mainly SUVs and larger combustion vehicles with a higher power that ensure that the average CO2emissions in traffic have been rising instead of falling for years.
Thanks to the misguided energy policy that the nuclear phase-out carried out before coal was phased out, the CO2content per kilowatt hour is currently also high; renewable energy sources or not. According to the portal “Stromauskunft”, most of the electricity in the first quarter of 2022 again came from energy sources that are harmful to the climate. In other words, here too, relief is brought only very slowly.
Raw Materials and Supply Crisis
And the next crisis is already looming. The expansion of renewable energy is faltering because both raw materials and finished solar panels come from the Far East, after the German solar industry went bankrupt in recent years due to cost or was driven to China. In addition, there is a lack of thousands of craftsmen for a faster transformation of the housing market. Not to mention the obstacles that politics throws up.
Abolition of internal combustion engines.
The conditions for success within the deadline in Europe are therefore very poor at the moment. Incidentally, Stellantis boss Tavares seized the opportunity of the EU’s announcement to leave the European car organization ACEA. Tavares is dissatisfied with the ‘lobbying’ of the union. Incidentally, this is currently led by BMW boss Oliver Zipse, who – and this is the spicy part – is the only purely German CEO to have warned against a premature phasing out of the combustion engine. His colleagues at VW and Mercedes-Benz are also very happy with the announcement. 2035 won’t be a problem for the OEMs, but it will be for the average consumer.
Zipse herself has repeatedly called for “openness to technology” in the past. This would not be entirely wrong for a rapid conversion of the European vehicle fleet with combustion engines to CO2-poor or CO2-neutral drive. E-fuels could indeed make the vast fleet of combustion vehicles cleaner. Provided that the synthetic fuel is produced from renewable energy sources and the necessary CO2 is extracted from the air.
And that is precisely the dilemma: European and especially German energy policy is counterproductive to the production of clean energy. Wind and solar energy alone will hardly be able to cope with all this in 2035, even though eco-activists continue to argue that they can. Physics (and bitter experience thus far) contradicts it.
Therefore, renewable energy generation can hardly be wasted on e-fuels. Because for a transformation, transport, industry and households have to switch from fossil fuels to electric variants. So EVs, heat pumps and electrification of industries (as far as possible). The demand for electricity will then not be less, but much greater than it is now. The squaring of the circle is lurking.
Certainly, the production of e-fuels is very energy-intensive and expensive. But the big goal, climate protection and the drastic reduction of CO2emissions, costs money, a lot of money, and has to stand on many legs. This can only be achieved through a joint effort of Europe and the world. E-fuels should not be produced in Europe, but where the wind blows, the sun shines and energy is cheap.
However, for all my pragmatism, I do not believe that this can be made possible by our current generation of politicians. They are too short-sighted in their decisions for that and the influence of certain climate activist lobby groups is too great.
Anyway, the solution that the climate activists have in mind is a different one. Roughly speaking, 90 percent of individual transport should not be electric in the future, but simply not at all.
Wonderful New World.
About this column:
In a weekly column, written alternately by Eveline van Zeeland, Derek Jan Fikkers, Eugène Franken, Katleen Gabriels, PG Kroeger, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla, Willemijn Brouwer and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins is trying to find out what the future will look like. These columnists, sometimes supplemented by guest bloggers, all work in their own way on solutions to the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all previous episodes.