In Focus
March 2021

Sustainable Fuels: Towards Sustainable and Clean Mobility in Europe

In this issue of our newsletter, ACFA would like to draw our readers’ attention to our European sister company Sustainable Fuels and their 2050 Vision, which outlines the pathway towards sustainable and clean mobility, as Europe strives to have a climate neutral economy by 2050.

Sustainable Fuels is dedicated to the responsible production, usage and promotion of clean, high quality, high-efficiency petrol components. Sustainable Fuels, formerly known as EFOA, the European Fuels and Oxygenates Association, was founded in 1985 as part of CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council. Sustainable Fuels has since established itself as a leading force in the liquid clean fuels advocate development arena in Europe, working closely with policymakers, regulators and wide variety of stakeholders.

Committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the association shares the European Union’s objective of achieving climate neutrality in Europe by 2050. To respond to today’s climate challenge, governments, industry and civil society need to work together to deliver for Europe and demonstrate leadership for the world.

In its vision statement towards a climate neutral economy in Europe by 2050, Sustainable Fuels identifies that the key challenge is drafting an economically viable path for transportation fuels, which is also affordable and sustainable. To achieve lifecycle climate neutrality, Sustainable Fuels has outlined a wide range of solutions, based on prevailing science.

More information on Sustainable Fuels and its work can be found on the association’s website.

Sustainable Fuels – “The challenge we share: A climate neutral economy by 2050”

The 2050 Vision statement acknowledges the importance of the importance of reducing the environmental footprint of the overall automotive and fuel industries. Transport currently accounts for almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, a percentage which is rising. However, and apart from protecting the environment, the association also highlights that mobility needs to remain affordable for every European.

Sustainable Fuels draws a 2050 pathway, in which climate neutral liquid fuels and electricity work together for a sustainable and affordable mobility system. The chemical and automotive industry are key foundation of a successful European future. Solutions such as high-octane fuels, advanced biofuels, 100% bio-ethers, bio-naphtha/biomass or waste to chemicals and e-fuels are some of the examples of a range of potential technical solutions, which can help in Europe’s path towards 2050.

Fuel ethers can facilitate the rapid shift to higher octane fuel, which will have an immediate and positive impact on air quality in Europe’s cities and CO2 emissions from the existing car fleet.

Climate neutral fuels can be blended seamlessly into the liquid fuel mix while being compatible with existing and future engine technologies. The association commits itself to help European governments fully achieve the goal of climate neutrality swiftly, while ensuring a socially fair transition for Europe’s vulnerable citizens.

The following chart summarizes the association’s view towards 2050:


Sustainable Fuels’ Vision of the Future: Lifecycle Climate Neutrality

In line with the wider vision of the chemicals and refining sectors, Sustainable Fuels draws up a future scenario in which climate neutral liquid fuels and climate neutral electricity work together to provide affordable, fair and sustainable mobility systems across all modes of transport on a well-to-wheel, lifecycle assessment basis.

Highly efficient hybrid engines with climate-neutral, liquid fuels complement fully electric vehicles in road transport, ensuring those who live in rural areas or need the range that liquid fuels offer are included rather than left behind. As early as the 2020s, a rapid shift to higher octane fuel using existing infrastructure and new hybrid engines brought sustainable transport to the mass consumer market. It had an immediate and positive impact on air quality in Europe’s cities and CO2 emissions from the existing car fleet, while limiting of job losses in the European automotive value chain. It demonstrated the benefits of the European Green Deal to citizens across the continent. It provided the political space for continued climate action into the 2030s as new electricity infrastructure spending took root and innovation in liquid fuel technology spilled over into aviation and marine fuels.

As the 2030 and 2040 vision scenarios progressed, European solutions were adopted across other parts of the world, particularly so in regions without extensive electricity networks, sought to find a cost-effective route to sustainable mobility. In Europe, the clean fuels industry continued to invest on the basis of a shared destination of climate neutral liquid fuels by 2050, with widespread adoption of e-fuels supplying a storage solution for excess renewable electricity, creating a coupling of the electricity and fuels sectors. New recycling technologies and the widespread adoption of bio-feedstocks placed the sustainable fuels industry at the nexus between the emergent European circular and bio-based economies.

The choices made by European policymakers and the innovation created by industry unleashed a new integrated, sustainable industrial base. It delivered climate neutral liquid fuels, an innovation-rich sector of a climate neutral economy aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and positioned Europe at the forefront of a reshaped global industry.

Future fuel blend solutions: climate neutral

In its 2050 vision Sustainable Fuels presents a range of different, potential and technical solutions to help the industry and society to reach the 2050 climate neutrality goals. The chemical and automotive industry are considered as key to lay the foundation of a successful European future. With the know-how of sector leading engineers in both industries and the vision of decision-makers, Europe is expected to lead the world on the journey to climate neutral liquid fuels.

The chemical sector believes that by 2050, it will be able to reduce its own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by a further 50% compared to current levels. This will require the right framework conditions and all technical solutions, including changes to the feedstock and to how to process and use fuels. Solutions such as

  • High-octane fuels
  • Advanced biofuels
  • e-fuels,
  • 100% bio-ethers,
  • bio-naphtha/biomass or waste to chemicals

are some of the examples of a range of potential technical solutions that could help industry and society to reach 2050 climate goals.

In order to accomplish the 2050 goals, Sustainable Fuels has identified the following areas where it will focus on in order to maximise the contribution to the vision:  

  • Rapid lowering of emissions in a cost-efficient manner
  • Cost-effective and practical methods of storing energy from renewables
  • Preservation of the resilience of Europe’s energy supply
  • Advancements in sustainable hybrid fuel technology building on existing industrial base and applications
  • Continued utilisation of chemical waste as the feedstock for fuel ethers

Sustainable Fuels wants to work with all stakeholders to deliver on this vision. In order for Europe to achieve a carbon-neutral target in 2050, it is seeking a mix of solutions: electric vehicles, carbon neutral liquid fuels, hybrid options, e-/bio-based fuel ethers, as well as changes to how we produce and use these fuels. The pathway is quite clear, although some of the technological solutions need further development or scaling up.

Sustainable Fuels is offering its help to European governments and regulators to fully achieve the goal of climate neutrality, ensure a socially fair transition for those most affected by the changes, and accelerate the pace of change.

The model put together by Sustainable Fuels focuses on conducting and enabling a solution for climate neutrality under the following aspects:

  • Increased range of adaptive technology pathways and a more flexible road transport system that work for all, providing better travel range whilst ensuring sustainability
  • Rapid lowering of emissions in a cost-efficient manner
  • Cost-effective and practical methods of storing energy from renewables
  • Preservation of the resilience of Europe’s energy supply
  • Advancements in sustainable hybrid fuel technology building on existing industrial base and applications
  • Continued utilisation of chemical waste as the feedstock for fuel ethers

The 2050 vision statement concludes by suggesting a possible course of action in order to accomplish the 2050 climate neutrality, reaching out to:
  • Find a common understanding with European policymakers that by 2050, climate neutral liquid fuels will be a key enabler of sustainable mobility as part of the European Green Deal;
  • Work with policymakers to identify and enact policies that enable the deployment of climate neutral liquid fuels by 2050, starting with the measures identified in the European Green Deal Communication:
    • over a lifecycle assessment, transport should become drastically less polluting, especially in cities,
    • more stringent air pollution standards should be introduced for combustion-engine vehicles;
  • Collaborate with the automotive industry, parts’ suppliers, refiners, chemicals and agricultural sectors to develop and promote solutions for road transport;
  • Begin discussions with interested parties from the aviation and marine transport sectors about how Sustainable Fuels can contribute to the achievement of climate neutral liquid fuels for their modes of transport;
  • Support research and research networks that further improve our understanding of the technologies available now and in the future to deliver climate neutral liquid fuels.


The European Green Deal is an ambitious, forward looking vision which sets the foundations of a sustainable future for Europe; a future which must now be delivered. The recently published Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy confirms that the transport sector will inevitably need to play its part in these efforts. Road transport, which proved its fundamental role during the current pandemic, will thus require a deep transformation in order to align with the climate agenda.

Europe can look to many paths when it comes to drawing a roadmap towards a climate neutral transport sector. The structural realities of the sector mean that full electrification, while an essential element of our transition, cannot deliver full decarbonisation alone. Therefore, diversification of energy supply for the transport sector constitutes an essential vector for achieving climate neutrality. Alternative solutions in parallel to electrification is a path worth further supporting as it will ultimately help Europe achieve its climate targets.

In this regard, climate neutral liquid fuels provide numerous advantages for Europe’s transport sector. They can help provide a wide array of options to offer a more flexible road transport system that meets our efficiency and sustainability ambition. Liquid fuels such as bio- and e-fuels exist and offer viable routes for the progressive reduction of transport emissions. Fuels including high-octane fuels, advanced biofuels, e-fuels, 100% bio-ethers, bio-naphtha/biomass or waste-to-chemicals have a strong potential to be blended seamlessly into the liquid fuel mix and their compatibility with existing and future engine technologies, including hybrid, supports their claim to play a role in the transport energy mix.

Thus, a shift to better performing and cleaner liquid fuels while taking full advantage of innovative, more efficient engines can make sustainable transport an economic reality. In this regard, the uptake of cleaner liquid fuels is expected to support a rapid lowering of emissions in a cost-efficient manner and provide technical solutions that will allow Europe to reach its 2050 targets.

Furthermore, the social aspect of the environmental transition also needs to be accounted for. In fact, the transport sector further encompasses a social dimension which supports connectivity and jobs, two essential metrics in Europe’s economy.

Hybrid engines with climate neutral liquid fuels can help ensure a fair transformation of our transport systems. This includes providing essential transport solutions to those most likely to be left behind and supporting the resilience of the European automotive value chain.

We strongly believe Europe can be climate neutral by 2050. This ambitious target will however require that the right framework and conditions are in place and that all technical solutions, are supported and considered. These include investment in research, changes to the feedstock and new ways to process and use our transport fuels. While ensuring that Europe retains its leadership in the transport sector, we aspire to intensify our work with policymakers in order to identify and enact actions that support an increasing share of climate neutral liquid fuels.

These include most notably an important improvement in the reduction of transport pollution over a lifecycle assessment, the implementation of more stringent air pollution standards for combustion-engine vehicles, as well as ongoing and continued collaboration with the automotive industry, parts suppliers, refiners, chemicals and agricultural sectors to develop and promote sustainable solutions for road transport.

As decarbonisation of the transport sector will require a holistic approach, we also aspire to cooperate with the various actors of the aviation and marine transport sectors about how climate neutral liquid fuels can support the decarbonisation of these difficult to abate fields of the economy. This outreach will also include continued support to research and innovation networks which further help improve the availability of innovative technologies that deliver climate neutral liquid fuels.

As an industry, we support the European Union’s ambition of achieving climate neutrality in Europe by 2050. To respond to the climate challenge, governments, industry and civil society need to work together to deliver for Europe and to demonstrate leadership for the world. We remain committed to this goal.”

A full copy of the Sustainable Fuels’ 2050 Vision statement: “Sustainable mobility for all: climate neutral liquid fuels”, together with complementing video clips can found here.                            

If you are interested in what’s happening in Europe with regards to liquid fuels, follow Sustainable Fuels on Twitter: @SustainFuels_EU and LinkedIn.

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