Technological watch

EU Parliament vote on internal combustion engine ban

In their open letter to the EU Parliament, 183 signatories from a wide range of scientific disciplines support the current call from the scientific community and large sections of industry to vote against a ban on internal combustion vehicles on 7 June 2022. Especially since, as co-initiator Prof. Dr. Thomas Willner emphasizes, misleading assumptions and incorrect calculations are being used.

“It is the task of politics to set goals and to stimulate a technology-open competition for the best solutions to meet them,” emphasizes the Hamburg- based process engineer. What has helped the European economy to its current strength is now being recklessly put at risk by the one-sided focus on e-mobility, which is not based on physics but on ideological assumptions. The key words here are, for example, the measurements of the CO2 footprint of battery-electric vehicles, which have been exposed by the scientific community as being wrong in many ways. Officially, only the regular electric power mix is used as a basis for calculation. However, it is correct to take into account the fossil marginal power in the charging current. According to that the actual CO2 footprint of the charging current is much higher than the official estimate. The incorrect assessment of e- mobility culminates in multiple counting of the supposedly “green” charging current on the climate targets, he said.

“In 2030, it will probably unfortunately become apparent that climate protection will fail in this way,” also warns biotechnologist Prof. Dr. Matthias Brunner from Saarbrücken, since the targeted CO2 reduction in the transport sector of 55 percent can only be achieved in conjunction with a defossilization of the huge existing vehicle fleet. Sustainable biofuels and waste-based synthetic fuels and e-fuels, including gaseous variants such as methane, hydrogen and others, are indispensable for this, he said.

In many cases, these are already on the market today, as shown by the example of the up to 90 percent climate-neutral diesel substitute fuel HVO. Thanks to its favorable energy balance, it can also be produced in our latitudes – and with a share of 33 to 100 percent in diesel fuel, it is already available at more than 7,700 filling stations in Europe.

“Such waste- and residue-based fuels, in combination with e-fuels, will be available in large quantities in eight years,” predicts Prof. Willner.

By then, the superfluous discussion about the high energy requirements of e-fuel production will also have long since come to an end. On the one hand, waste-based e-fuels require significantly less electricity per kilometer driven than average e-cars, and on the other hand, pure e-fuels will then be produced in wind- and sun- rich regions, making the energy requirement irrelevant thanks to surplus resources.

After all, synthetic fuels would burn very cleanly and thus immediately improve the climate and environmental balance in the entire fleet, including old vehicles.

“Against this backdrop, demonizing the internal combustion engine is just as absurd as suggesting that anyone who advocates a balanced transport mix in the interests of a sensible transformation is against e- mobility and refuses to support progress,” state both scientists.

Climate protection and the energy transition urgently need technological diversity in order to avoid dangerous dependencies, to increase resilience to unforeseeable crises, and to give all technologies a chance in the competition for the best solutions. Politicians are advised to seek dialogue with the scientific community instead of prescribing technical approaches to solutions, they said. “For policymakers, assessing which innovations will come in which technology field with which performance potential in the future is a difficult undertaking. Bans stifle innovation and deprive us of valuable options for action,” the scientists appeal to the EU parliamentarians.

A ban on internal combustion engines and the associated focus on electromobility would be a serious strategic mistake, the scope of which the European Parliament is hopefully aware of in view of the associated risks, damage and problems. No other continent is about to make this mistake of one-sided electrification of the energy, heat and transport sectors. Outside Europe, it has long been recognized that one-sided electrification does not help the climate, causes gigantic raw material problems and environmental damage, creates dangerous dependencies, becomes an increasing security risk, destabilizes the power grids, hinders the energy transition, and is highly unsocial.

“All the risks and consequences mentioned have been scientifically proven and documented to the EU bodies,” states Prof. Willner.

Incidentally, the G7 ministers for climate, energy and the environment also emphasized in their current communiqué of 27 May 2022, that they want to avoid the risks listed by the science initiative at all costs.

Who are the scientists from Germany, the EU and the world?The 183 signatories come from a wide range of scientific disciplines, from engineering sciences such as process and chemical engineering, biotechnology, mechanical engineering, vehicle and propulsion technology, aeronautical engineering, energy technology and electrical engineering to pure natural sciences such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, and applied natural sciences such as thermodynamics, economics, computer science, agricultural, forestry and environmental sciences, atmospheric chemistry and climate research. Remarkably, it also includes researchers and developers of electromobility who have scientifically recognized that electromobility alone cannot solve our problems.

Publication date: 10/06/2022

Author: Marion Kupfer

Bio-based News


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.