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Renewable Electricity for Decarbonisation of Road Transport: Batteries or E-Fuels?


Road transport is one of the most energy-consuming and greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting sectors. Progressive decarbonisation of electricity generation could support the ambitious target of road vehicle climate neutrality in two different ways: direct electrification with onboard electro-chemical storage or a change of energy vector with e-fuels. The most promising, state-of-the-art electrochemical storages for road transport have been analysed considering current and future technologies (the most promising ones) whose use is assumed to occur within the next 10–15 years. Different e-fuels (e-hydrogen, e-methanol, e-diesel, e-ammonia, E-DME, and e-methane) and their production pathways have been reviewed and compared in terms of energy density, synthesis efficiency, and technology readiness level. A final energetic comparison between electrochemical storages and e-fuels has been carried out considering different powertrain architectures, highlighting the huge difference in efficiency for these competing solutions. E-fuels require 3–5 times more input energy and cause 3–5 times higher equivalent vehicle CO2 emissions if the electricity is not entirely decarbonised.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Italy

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