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Eco-fuels and electric cars: two feasible options to decarbonise the transport sector

Industry majors commit to the fight against climate change
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The energy transition has become a key item on the agenda of many countries and large companies due to the detrimental effects of carbon emissions on the environment. With this in mind, companies in the energy sector have begun to make plans to develop options to address climate change. Within this great global challenge, the transport sector plays a key role due to its large share of total CO2 emissions.

With the aim of presenting some alternatives, the Pons Foundation hosted a conference entitled 'Energies for the mobility of the future'. Participants also debated the options presented to decarbonise the mobility sector. 

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Carlos Martín, technical and environmental secretary of AOP

Carlos Martín, technical and environmental secretary of AOP, and Rafael del Río, technical director of AEDIVE, took part in this space for dialogue moderated by Víctor García Nebreda, coordinator of Energy and Environment at Madrid Foro Empresarial, an institution that collaborated in the event.

The AOP (Spanish Association of Oil Product Operators) is associated with large companies in the sector, such as BQ, Cepsa, Galp and Repsol. For some years now, due to the current situation, the AOP has been committed to the fight against climate change. This commitment, as Martín explained, "are not empty words", but "go beyond mere declarations".

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Rafael del Río, technical director of AEDIVE

The association has developed a strategy to move towards eco-fuels, proposing a progressive replacement of oil with other materials that do not produce so many CO2 emissions. According to Martin, the transport sector accounts for 25% of CO2 emissions. Of this percentage, a quarter corresponds to road transport. For this reason, "it is necessary to involve it in the energy transition", Martín said. However, several measures have already been taken. In the last 10 years, 46 million tonnes of CO2 have been reduced, although this great effort "is not enough, it does not comply with the European pact".

"The economic crisis and the uncertainty caused by the pandemic have anaesthetised the purchase of new vehicles in Spain," explains the AOP representative. Martin points out that 66% of vehicles sold last year were more than 10 years old, while only 3% of vehicles were electric. This is where eco-fuels come into play, a key alternative for decarbonisation

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'Energies for the mobility of the future'

Martín listed several options, such as biofuels; synthetic fuels, created from renewable hydrogen; technology capable of transforming plastic waste into clean, recycled waste; and advanced biofuels, made from waste from the agri-food industry. Raw materials from this sector can be transformed into eco-fuel. In fact, AOP is already producing biodiesel in a synthetic fuel production plant in Bilbao.

This commitment to energy transition has also led Repsol to establish a refinery in Cartagena, the first advanced biofuels plant. One of the objectives is to reduce 900,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. On the other hand, air transport has received its first batches of biokerosene

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Carlos Martín, technical and environmental secretary of AOP

Martin, in addition to demonstrating AOP's commitment, outlined the advantages of biofuels. In addition to the significant reduction of CO2, this project boosts the circular economy, promoting quality industrial employment and creating new job opportunities in rural Spain.

With regard to raw materials, Martín reveals that there are sufficient assets. "There is more than enough sustainable biomass, not only for its transformation but also to meet other energy needs," he explained.

"Ecofuel is a feasible and efficient option to decarbonise the entire transport sector," Martín stressed. "We will continue to defend eco-fuels as an option for the decarbonisation of transport," he said. 

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Rafael del Río, technical director of AEDIVE
There is a great lack of knowledge about electric mobility 

It was then the turn of Rafael del Río, who presented various data related to electric vehicles in Spain. AEDIVE (Business Association for the Development and Promotion of Electric Mobility) encompasses the entire electric mobility sector, from lithium mines to the electricity companies involved, including consumers and suppliers.

The vehicle market in Spain represents only 8%. Why aren't more cars being sold? Del Río is clear: the big problem is lack of knowledge. "The lack of infrastructure is relative. There are places and we have to take advantage of all the opportunities," he said.  In this sense, he explained that, for example, the company Shell uses electricity from cities to create recharging points. 

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'Energies for the mobility of the future'

The AEDIVE representative assures that it is not difficult to set up a charging point in a garage. "There is a lot of information that this is not the case", he pointed out. Likewise, Del Río stresses that electric vehicles are 100% renewable, while providing 70% efficiency.

However, Del Río acknowledges that a lot of energy is generated in battery production. In addition, most of it is produced in China, so much of it "generates pollution because the country uses coal", he explained. For this reason, the EU has been criticised because, in addition to polluting, European industry loses competitiveness. Del Rio proposes that the batteries should be manufactured in Europe.