EU Science Hub

Sustainable transport and fuels

The European Commission is working towards forms of mobility that are sustainable, energy-efficient and respectful for the environment. Technical innovation such as electric vehicles, intelligent transport systems and smart grids, will contribute to achieving this goal. Alternative fuels like biofuels and non-polluting energy sources, notably hydrogen, are also pathways towards a more sustainable mobility.

The Commission Communication (COM(2010)186 final) sets out a European strategy on clean and energy efficient vehicles. ‘Decarbonising’ transport has been identified as a priority target for the development of a sustainable transport system. Priority areas for road transport are thus electric vehicles, alternative fuels and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Euronews Futuris series: Green energy: tomorrow's reality

/jrc/en/video/euronews-futuris-green-energy-tomorrows-realityeuronews futuris - Green energy: tomorrow's reality


The Directive on the Promotion of the Use of Energy from Renewable Sources (2009/28/EC) and the Fuel Quality Directive (2009/30/EC) are also of particular relevance to the transport sector. This EU regulatory framework sets environmental sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids, with a threshold of 35% savings of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; plus it excludes the use of specific land categories such as primary forest, grassland with high biodiversity, wetlands and peatlands.

The European Commission is furthermore working on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)  – combinations of communication, computer and control technology to improve transport safety, efficiency, mobility, … – which can be applied both to transport infrastructure as to vehicles.

In its efforts to establish a sustainable, environmental-friendly transport system, the JRC aims to play a key role in the shaping of standards and policy in the transport sector, including e-mobility, and in identifying and addressing EU priorities for research and innovation. Its research efforts target measurement of emissions and efficiency (Vehicle Emissions Laboratory (VELA) in Ispra), and performance and safety assessment of hydrogen and fuel cells in transport applications (Petten). New activities are being set up on electric vehicles, smart grids, battery performance and safety assessments. The JRC’s scientific activities on biofuels and bioenergy aim to address the most relevant and delicate policy questions. The research centre therefore analyses and tests sustainability criteria, including greenhouse gas emissions, indirect effects due to land-use change, the impact on and the availability of water and other resources. At the request of Commission’s policy Directorates-General, the JRC also operates a knowledge centre on the electrification of road transport.

More information

White Paper for Transport (COM(2011)144)

Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport's Clean Transport Systems initiative (CTS)


E-mobility – clean and environmentally friendly transport using electric vehicles – is based on an innovative, climate friendly technology with big growth potential. For this dynamic sector, standards and interoperability are becoming increasingly important as they provide a predictable framework that gives innovators confidence to bring their products to market.

More information

Interoperability and e-mobility

Smart Electricity Systems and Interoperability

Biofuels and bioenergy

Bioenergy is seen as an important contributor to meeting the targets set by the Renewable Energy Directive (20% share of renewable energy over total EU consumption by 2020), and therefore complementary to other low carbon energy alternatives. The European Commission has also proposed that 10% of the transport sector’s final energy consumption in 2020 should come from renewable energy sources. Biofuels are expected to play an important role to achieve this target.

More information

Biofuels and bioenergy

Alternative Fuels

Hydrogen and fuel cells

JRC research on fuel cells and hydrogen includes the Power Chain Integration and Testing project (FCPOINT), and supports the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (FCH JTI), tank testing, hydrogen storage and sensor testing.

More information

Hydrogen and fuel cells


JRC wide hidden block