Electricity and hydrogen instead of petrol and diesel

Emissions are to fall to 95 million metric tons per year by 2030, according to the federal Climate Protection Act. But vehicles with conventional drive technologies, i.e., gasoline or diesel engines, are widely used in the transport sector. However, many greenhouse gases are emitted during their operation – and this harms the climate.

Vehicle manufacturers are now developing and building more vehicles with new drive technologies. Demand, which is reflected in the number of new registrations, is also increasing.

Two approaches are being taken for decarbonization:

  1. Electrification: Electromobility involves cars, scooters, and other vehicles running on electricity or hydrogen instead of gasoline and diesel. The more electricity is generated from renewable energy sources, the more fossil fuels are displaced, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
  2. Because electrification is not possible everywhere, the substitution of fossil fuels with human-made (“synthetic”) fuels also plays an important role, especially in aviation and shipping. In the so-called power-to-X process, synthetic fuels are produced from (surplus) electricity from renewable energies.

The EWI researches and analyzes the decarbonization of transport and its interaction with other sectors.

  • Cost-minimizing vehicle mix
  • The impact of different support schemes
  • How the costs of individual technologies develop
  • Electromobility and smart charging

Using batteries from electric cars to benefit the overall system

However, the EWI is concerned with more than alternative drive technologies: With intelligent, data-driven approaches, the energy transition in transport can be designed to be system-friendly, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly. These approaches require a demand-oriented charging and network infrastructure. Simultaneously, charging processes must be controlled, taking into account both fluctuations in electricity production (for example, due to volatile wind and solar power) and capacity bottlenecks in the power grid, also known as “smart charging“. For example, an electric car battery can be optimally used as storage for renewable energies and even be used to serve the system.

Cost-minimizing vehicle mix

With the EWI’s total energy system model DIMENSION, the cost-minimizing vehicle mix to cover the annual mobility demand can be determined. Current political, regulatory, and technological framework conditions and interactions with other sectors are taken into account. The model accounts for supply costs for electricity, heat, and (synthetic) fuels across sectors. In the transport sector, passenger transport, light commercial vehicles, and heavy goods vehicles, among others, are considered.

The detailed mapping of the transport sector allows the analysis of sector interaction via electromobility (electricity) and applications of synthetic fuels (power-to-X) in different scenarios. This possibility enables, for example, the investigation of the effects of varying support regimes and cost developments of individual technologies.