In an expert interview on the website of the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation (br.de), Thomas Koch, Head of the Institute for Piston Machines at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and Falko Ueckerdt, Energy Researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, discuss the role of e-fuels in the energy transition. E-fuels are synthetic fuels produced from renewable electricity, water, and CO2. They are considered CO2-neutral because CO2 is removed from the atmosphere during their production and stored in the fuel. Another advantage is that e-fuels can be introduced into the existing vehicle fleet without major technical modifications.
Challenges in the introduction of e-fuels
However, there are also challenges in the introduction of e-fuels. A major disadvantage is their production costs, which are still several times higher than the costs of fossil fuels. In addition, the production of e-fuels requires a lot of renewable electricity, which can hinder the production of renewable energy if there is not enough capacity. There is also the problem that e-fuels are not necessarily CO2-neutral because large amounts of energy are needed for their production, which must come from renewable energy sources to be CO2-neutral.
Opinions on how important e-fuels are for the energy transition vary widely. Some see them as essential to make the transportation sector CO2-neutral and achieve climate goals, while others see them as too expensive and inefficient and instead focus on expanding electromobility and the use of hydrogen as a fuel.
Experts agree, however, that there cannot be only one solution for the energy transition and that various technologies and approaches must be combined. E-fuels could play an important role in this, especially in industries where the use of electromobility is difficult or not feasible.