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Sustainability Impact Assessment of Strategies Integrating Transport, Technology and Energy Scenarios

Both transport and energy systems contribute to an ever-increasing quality of human life. On the other hand, adverse environmental impacts and insecurity of fossil energy sources and supplies constitute major risks for sustainable development. TRIAS develops and assesses integrated scenarios to adapt the transport-energy system to make it more sustainable in the future.

Tags: Multimodal


Mobility becomes more and more important in today’s life. This is reflected by European citizens continuously increasing their travel demand or by the employment opportunities generated by transport, for example the 7.5 million people employed in the transport service sector of the EU-25. The downside of this development becomes obvious when looking at the growing proportion of transport emissions against total human greenhouse gas emissions, which is almost 30% today, and the almost total dependence of transport on fossil fuels as an energy source.

Given this current framework, the requirement for changes in the transport system becomes obvious. Both behavioural and technological changes will be necessary to alter the harmful trends and make transport sustainable, delivering support to social development and providing fairness, economic growth and environmental stability.

A major step in making the transport system more sustainable would be a shift towards alternative fuels like biofuels or hydrogen generated from various sources. This requires a symbiotic transition of the transport-energy system towards the supply and use of such alternative fuels. Scenarios for such a matched transition process are developed and assessed by the TRIAS project. The focus of TRIAS is then to provide an integrated and quantitative assessment of the transport-energy system adaptations and their economic, social and environmental impacts.


The strategic objectives of TRIAS are four-fold:

  1. Develop and test strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and noxious emissions from transport based on the trilogy (‘trias’) of transport, technology and energy scenarios. In particular, the introduction of biofuels and hydrogen as energy carriers for transport are analysed.
  2. Base the assessment on an integrated model-based approach looking at environmental, economic and social impacts (sustainability impact assessment). The use of integrated models enables quantifying the impacts of scenarios, deriving new sustainability indicators from the quantitative model variables and creating consistent scenarios where all the numbers fit together avoiding contradictions within a scenario. The four models applied are POLES (world-energy system), ASTRA (economy-transport-environment interaction), VACLAV (transport network impacts), Regio-SUSTAIN (regional environmental impacts).
  3. Provide an open field for both external scenarios and scenarios developed within TRIAS, by reviewing the scenario literature and providing interaction with stakeholders concerning scenario design.
  4. Consider the life-cycle implications of all strategies investigated. For example, the use of biofuels or hydrogen has underlying restrictions on the available land to produce biomass, so that for each technology path tested its full life cycle has to be considered.

Interactions of TRIAS models for scenario analysis
Interactions of TRIAS models for scenario analysis
Fraunhofer ISI

Description of work

The TRIAS project commences with an analysis of available scenarios from existing studies. Based on this knowledge the TRIAS scenarios are developed and these will be analysed in a final step.

A second starting point is the development of a technology database that provides the techno-economic data for alternative technologies related to biofuel and hydrogen use for transport. This data is required to update the applied models so that they dispose of the capabilities to simulate the technology diffusion and transition as part of the scenarios.

The four models, POLES, ASTRA, VACLAV and Regio-SUSTAIN, are upgraded to

  1. incorporate the new technologies
  2. extend their assessment capabilities, and
  3. provide linkages between the models.

The models will then calculate scenarios until the year 2030, with an outlook until 2050 by POLES and ASTRA.

The scenario results will be provided on a detailed level consisting of both the single indicators of the various models (e.g. presenting results, for either a country or region, at a sectoral level) and the aggregate indicators relevant to describe sustainability of the scenarios.


The main outputs of TRIAS are the significantly enhanced ability of developing and assessing scenarios of the future development of transport-energy systems, as well as the results of the assessment of the TRIAS scenarios concerning the introduction of biofuels and hydrogen into the transport-energy system.

Further output belongs to two groups: tools and databases, and written reports.

Tools and databases: POLES, ASTRA and Regio-SUSTAIN will enhance their capabilities to model transport-energy related impacts. Model linkages between POLES-ASTRA, ASTRA-VACLAV, POLES-Regio-SUSTAIN and VACLAV Regio-SUSTAIN will be either be improved on or newly established. A database to describe the techno-economic characteristics of various biofuels and hydrogen-related pathways has been set-up.

The following written reports will be available at the end of the project:

  1. External and internal scenarios for the socio-economic and transport-energy systems
  2. Technology trajectories for transport and its energy supply
  3. TRIAS outlook for global transport and energy demand
  4. Alternative pathways for transport, technology and energy to promote sustainability in the EU
  5. Final report of the TRIAS project.