Being mobile is one of our basic needs. Mobility on foot or by bike, with a private car, by bus, train and airplane enables us to enjoy individual freedom and organise our leisure time as well as to get to work and to take part in social life. Despite demographic change and due to the increasing flexibility of the labour force, the need for mobility is more likely to increase than decrease. This is true for Germany and Europe and even more at a global level. We expect to see significant growth in freight transport, in particular, but also in air transport. Forecasts predict that the global vehicle population – currently about 1.2 billion vehicles – will reach four billion by 2050. Global air traffic might increase 4.5-fold by 2050. Against the background of these developments, it is obvious that the energy supply for transport and the reduction of climate-damaging emissions will be among the major transport policy challenges of the 21st century.
With the energy strategy and the transformation of our energy system, Germany will not only phase out nuclear power but also move away from oil to renewable sources of energy. At present, the entire mobility sector still depends on oil to a large extent. This is set to change. The Federal Government’s energy strategy therefore aims at reducing the final energy consumption of the transport sector by 10 percent against 2005 levels by 2020 and by 40 percent by 2050, thus making a major contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.
At international level, it was agreed to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 to 95 percent across all sectors by 2050. This means that the transport sector, too, must reduce its absolute CO2 emissions. For this reason, the Federal Government is pursuing a policy that promotes technological solutions without favouring any specific technology. Existing drivetrains must be further improved. An efficiency potential of about 25 percent is still waiting to be unleashed in this area. At the same time, the activities to evolve electric mobility in the form of battery and fuel cell powered vehicles will continue. In addition, a mobility and fuels strategy will be developed within this parliamentary term. It is only the sum total of the individual measures which will succeed in facilitating efficient, environmentally friendly and climate-friendly, quiet and clean mobility. Transport thus also plays an important role in the transformation of our energy system. Without the transport sector’s contribution, this transformation will not succeed.
What lies behind the strategy?
The Mobility and Fuels Strategy will identify the fuel options, the corresponding drivetrain technologies as well as the necessary infrastructure which are most likely to contribute to an increase in efficiency and a reduction of CO2 emissions. The Mobility and Fuels Strategy is to become the key platform of discussion for sustainable mobility.
Specifically, a whole bunch of issues need to be addressed, such as: How much energy saving potential can still be unlocked in traditional internal combustion engines? What is the significance of natural gas, especially for modes of transport which so far have been exclusively dependent on oil, such as shipping? What about the roll-out of battery powered cars and the prospects for fuel cell powered vehicles, especially in the HGV sector? How do we provide the vehicles with “green” electricity or hydrogen and how much energy and CO2 emissions can Germany save in doing so?
The role of biofuels will also be a key issue. So far, we have positive experience with the E5 blend (petrol) and B7 blend (diesel). When Super E10 fuel was introduced, however, it became clear that uncertainties still exist and problems of acceptance must be addressed. Biofuels should always be part of the solution, not of the problem. They are therefore seen in the overall context, putting aside the euphoria which prevailed a few years ago. As part of the Mobility and Fuels Strategy, the potentials of biofuels will be identified. Also, the difficult question will be addressed as to whether the use of biofuels should be reserved for sectors or modes of transport which have no major technical possibilities to reduce energy consumption, such as road haulage or aviation.
Up to now, different energy options and technologies, numerous players and partners as well as different ongoing programmes and strategies have existed in parallel. All of these aspects will now be consolidated and discussed under one roof. The 2004 Fuels Strategy will serve as an important basis for this. However, the aim is not to organize a one-off event but rather to initiate a consistent and adaptive process whose conclusions are updated continuously. Also, it is to include not only passenger cars but all modes of transport. All players will be involved in order to ensure maximum transparency and participation and to achieve a broad-based consensus for the outcomes of the process.
Dialogue with industry, academia and civil society
Like the phase-out from nuclear power, the decision to move away from oil and the associated dependencies and uncertainties is backed by a large majority of the German population. The challenges of environmental protection are right at the top of the agenda in the mobility sector, too.
With our Mobility and Fuels Strategy, we aim to put this resolve of the population at large into action. A comprehensive workshop programme, which starts in April 2012 and will involve 400 businesses, associations and experts from society, industry and the scientific community, is to identify what options for action and strategies exist, where the different modes of transport see a need for action, which technologies and concepts are likely to succeed and what shape a programme of measures could take. This dialogue with expert players from the entire transport sector is to make it possible to draw the right conclusions for the Mobility and Fuels Strategy.