Electricity can be used to reduce road transport emissions both through the direct electrification of vehicles and through the production of so-called e-fuels, liquid and gaseous fuels produced via electrolysis. Although direct electrification is far more energy efficient on a well-to-wheel basis, long charging times and heavy batteries mean that e-fuels are expected to be used to decarbonise some heavy transport applications in particular in the period to 2050.
Low expected future costs for renewable generation development in Norway and Sweden mean that sites in these countries have the lowest estimated costs for e-fuel production. As a result, sites in these areas are heavily represented among the most attractive sites regionally, with all of the top 15 sites located in either Norway or Sweden. That said, opportunities to export oxygen or heat to neighbouring facilities, for example iron, steel or cement manufacturers, can boost the attractiveness of specific sites in higher power price areas.
In total, 232 Nordic emissions sites were assessed. The project looked, in particular, at existing industrial CO2 emissions sources in the Nordics, such as, for example, combined heat and power generation, steelworks, cement factories, as emissions from these sites can be captured and then used in the production of e-fuels.
The most important determinants of e-fuel production costs are a low power price, the potential to sell excess oxygen and heat locally, and the total size of the e-fuel production facility (economies of scale). Greenhouse gas emission savings, infrastructural conditions and water availability were also assessed as part of the work.
The production of e-fuels from renewable electricity in the Nordics could contribute to greater domestic renewable fuel production and to the realisation of national emissions targets for the transport sector. The report makes clear that e-fuels produced in the Nordics are likely to meet the minimum requirement of reducing emissions by at least 70% relative to conventional fuels, and therefore could potentially contribute to the mandatory minimum levels for advanced renewable transport fuel use imposed by EU targets.
The work was conducted for Nordic Energy Research in partnership with CIT Industriell Energi and VTT Technical Research Centre.