The European Expert Group on Future Transport Fuels has published its second report: Infrastructure for Alternative Fuels. The text below has been taken from the report and does not necessarily reflect the Commission's views.
Transitions in fuel supply infrastructure and vehicles will be needed for all new transport fuels. These transitions may need to be encouraged or mandated throughout all EU Member States and coordinated at the EU level in order to drive the market forward.
Assuming a reduction of at least 60% of GHGs by 2050 with respect to 1990 in the transport sector, improvements in the energy efficiency of transport operations and vehicles will provide a period of several years to evaluate and develop the technologies for alternative fuel systems that will require major transitions in infrastructure and vehicle design. A timely decision on these major transitions can therefore be taken to ensure a long-term cost-effective and sustainable solution that is commensurate with adequate industrial lead-time.
In view of the scope of change required for a low carbon transport system, it would be recommendable to analyse the current regulatory framework and to identify the gaps and level of policy support required to enable this change, particularly with regard to infrastructure for alternative fuels.
There is a current lack of an EU-wide harmonised alternative fuel infrastructure due to differing levels of development in the Member States. Such fragmented development leads to high costs, hampers consumer acceptance, and prevents the economies of scale which the Single Market could provide. A specific strategy on alternative fuel infrastructure at EU level will be necessary for the short and medium term.
Member States have promoted different alternative fuel infrastructures, because they have opted for different priorities in their fuel choices with regard to the implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive and to the allocation of state support. But there is a clear lack of harmonized EU standards within the various types of alternative fuel refuelling equipment and storage systems.
During the last decade, policy actions have mostly addressed fuel and vehicle developments, neglecting an appropriate alternative fuel infrastructure build-up. Funding to build up alternative fuel infrastructure has also been insufficient. The initial costs for market-deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure are generally higher than for petroleum-based fuels due to i.a. the lack of initial economies of scale. Fuel suppliers (i.e. private spending) are investing in alternative fuels even if the revenue from fuel sold is not sufficient to pay back infrastructure and logistics costs.
The recently adopted White Paper "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a Competitive and Resource Efficient Transport System" announces that the Commission will develop "a sustainable alternative fuels strategy including also the appropriate infrastructure" (Initiative 24) and ensure "guidelines and standards for refuelling infrastructures" (Initiative 26).