The expert group has for the first time developed a comprehensive approach covering the whole transport sector. Expected demand from all transport modes could be met through a combination of electricity (batteries or hydrogen/fuel cells) and biofuels as main options, synthetic fuels (increasingly from renewable resources) as a bridging option, methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuel, and LPG as supplement.
According to the Maltese National Statistics Office, transport in Malta is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels with only around 40 electric vehicles on the road in the fourth quarter of 2010.
NSO also revealed that there are 304,705 vehicles on the road in Malta when the current population is of 412,966 (according to a 2010 estimate). Of these, 76.7 per cent were private vehicles, while commercial vehicles accounted for 15.6 per cent.
Vice-President of the European Commission Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "If we are to achieve a truly sustainable transport, then we will have to consider alternative fuels. For this we need to take into account the needs of all transport modes."
The Commission is currently revising existing policies and this report will feed into the "initiative on clean transport systems", to be launched later this year. The initiative intends to develop a consistent long-term strategy for fully meeting the energy demands of the transport sector from alternative and sustainable sources by 2050.
According to the EU expert group report, alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to decarbonise transport, by gradually substituting fossil energy sources. Technical and economic viability, efficient use of primary energy sources and market acceptance, however, will be decisive for a competitive acquisition of market share by the different fuels and vehicle technologies.
There is no single candidate for fuel substitution. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will most likely require the use of a mix of fuels which can be produced from a large variety of primary energy sources. There is broad agreement that all sustainable fuels will be needed to fully meet the expected demand.
Different modes of transport require different options of alternative fuels. Fuels with higher energy density are more suited to longer-distance operations, such as road freight transport, maritime transport, and aviation. Compatibility of new fuels with current technologies and infrastructure, or the need for disruptive system changes should be taken into account as important factors, determining in particular the economics of the different options.