Renewable fuels play a crucial part in reducing traffic emissions
The world needs traffic now and in the future, but it needs to be handled in a sustainable way. The development of fuels plays a significant part in reducing traffic emissions. One reason for this is the long service life of vehicles. If a new car model is introduced today, it will be still manufactured even after 2020. These cars will be used in traffic until 2035-2040.
“We need a number of solutions to resolve traffic emission challenges, and we should develop technologies accordingly. We need developments in combustion engines and renewable fuels, as well as gas, electric and fuel cell solutions,” says Lars Peter Lindfors, Neste Oil’s Senior Vice President in Technology at the ‘What will our cars run on in the next decades?’ seminar organized by Neste Oil.
“Future solutions should be selected, regardless of the technology, in terms of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and competitiveness by measuring emissions following the well-to-wheel principle. Sustainably produced renewable fuels offer efficient means that are already available to us. They are suitable for existing cars and distribution systems,” Lindfors says.
The renewable NEXBTL diesel, based on Neste Oil’s own technology, can be used to replace fossil diesel because their chemical compositions are alike. It can also be mixed with fossil diesel without any limits. NEXBTL is an HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) diesel product that is manufactured by treating a variety of vegetable oils and waste raw materials with hydrogen.
Renewable fuels produce low life cycle emissions
Usually, debate regarding traffic emissions revolves only around emissions produced by cars, i.e. tank-to-wheels. Calculated according to this principle, the carbon dioxide emissions of an electric car are zero. When reviewing the entire fuel life cycle, the situation changes.
A survey conducted by the EU Commission, the automotive industry and the fuel industry in spring indicates that the carbon dioxide emissions of a car running on bio-based fuel are actually lower than those of an electric car, depending on the method used to produce the electricity.
According to the survey, the average carbon dioxide emissions of an electric car are 57 grams per kilometer, calculated using the average emissions of electricity production in Europe (well-to-wheels). The total emissions of renewable fuel can be as low as 24 grams per kilometer. These emissions originate from fuel production and transportation. The carbon dioxide released when driving circulates back to plants.
The reductions in carbon dioxide emissions brought by renewable fuels are real and current. Neste Oil’s renewable NEXBTL diesel produced in 2013 serves to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by a volume equaling some 40 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions of Finnish traffic.