False solutions

Biofuels, e-fuels and fossil gas are often falsely touted as climate solutions to decarbonise new trucks. Yet each of these fuels still cause environmental harm, with biofuels and e-fuels also facing scarcity issues as other sectors rely on them to decarbonise.

45%of the hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) currently consumed is made from palm and palm derivatives

50% moreRefuelling a truck with e-fuel (synthetic diesel) would cost 50% more than driving a battery electric truck in 2035

Biofuels

Growing crops to produce biofuels causes biodiversity loss, increased GHG emissions from deforestation, and threatens food security. Producing advanced biofuels from waste and residue feedstocks has the potential to bring emissions savings, provided that stringent sustainability criteria are met. However, only small quantities of advanced biofuels can be produced when strong sustainability criteria are applied. 

For example, 45% of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), a so-called ‘renewable diesel’, currently consumed is made from palm and palm derivatives. HVO made from waste or residues (e.g. used cooking oil or animal fats) is only available in very limited volumes and expected to be primarily used to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Biomethane is the other main biofuel generating interest from the trucking sector. It can only be sustainably produced in limited quantities, which would mean that no biomethane would be left for the power, buildings and industry sectors where its abatement potential is badly needed.

E-fuels

Producing e-fuels is a highly energy-intensive process which makes inefficient use of renewable electricity. Refuelling a conventional truck with synthetic diesel would cost 50% more and emit three times more GHGs than driving a battery electric truck in 2035. Production volumes will remain low for the foreseeable future, and would not suffice to meet demand from aviation, shipping, and the chemical industry, which have no alternatives to decarbonise.

Fossil gas

Compressed or liquified natural gas (CNG or LNG) is just another fossil fuel. It offers only negligible greenhouse gas savings and no air quality benefits when used in trucks. But most importantly, producing and transporting fossil gas for the use in trucks emits high amounts of methane along the wheel-to-wheel supply chain. The significantly higher global warming potential of methane over 20 years, compared to a 100-year timeframe, means that increasing the number of LNG trucks on European roads today would actually lead to an increase in global warming over the next few decades compared to the alternatives.

In the context of the HDV CO2 standards, the inclusion of e-fuels and biofuels would create regulatory loopholes as truckmakers have no control over how trucks will be refuelled over their lifetime. So, they cannot guarantee emissions savings. Relying on bio and e-fuels to decarbonise trucks shifts the responsibility for and costs of the transition away from manufacturers and onto fuel suppliers and fleet operators.