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Energy to 2050, Scenarios for a Sustainable Future, 2003

Energy to 2050, Scenarios for a Sustainable Future, 2003


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Published by: i-people on Mar 28, 2008
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In the transport sector enormous efficiency improvements can be extracted
even from the internal combustion engine, not to mention continuously
improving diesel engines (IEA, 2001b). Hybrid vehicles (using electric
storage and conventional engines) would also dramatically cut energy
consumption. Fuel cell vehicles, using hydrogen, bio fuels or fossil fuels
would have rather high efficiencies too. The future described in this SD
Vision scenario assumes a continued variety of transport technologies –
with a much more diversified fuel mix than seen at present. While later in
the scenario horizon a growing portion of fossil fuels or biomass would be
transformed into hydrogen and used in fuel cell powered cars, an important
fraction would be still used as liquid fuels (diesel oil, gasoline, synfuels from
coal, bio fuels) and used in advanced ICEs, diesel and hybrid vehicles.

For the first two decades of the period considered, increased experimentation
by the automotive industries with different engine concepts and different
fuels must be encouraged, so that different approaches can be tried and
tested and a clear set of winning technologies can emerge. By 2025, it
should become clear what type(s) of technology and fuel(s) is (are) likely to
dominate the new transport market – and only at that point it will become
apparent whether a totally new infrastructure will need to be created to
support that technology or whether adjustments to existing infrastructure
will suffice.

Fuel cell technologies for transport would, at early stages, use carbon-based
fuels either directly (with a reformer) or indirectly (hydrogen). For the latter,
efficient ways to concentrate hydrogen, to increase its energy density, and
to store it for fairly long periods (days or months) would be needed.

Some of the bottlenecks to the adoption of challenger technologies in the
transport sector are already clear. For example, for electric vehicles, the
uncertainty lies in whether electricity will be supplied by batteries or
produced on board in a fuel cell powered by hydrogen. Research work on
electricity storage in on-board batteries would be necessary to increase the


3.A Normative Scenario to 2050: the SD Vision Scenario

energy density of battery packs, so as to give electric vehicles an operative
range comparable at least to that of present day gasoline cars.

In general, new technologies could be nurtured in niche markets, and the
winner is likely to be determined based on the speed at which costs decline
for that technology and on the comparative simplicity and convenience of
its use. Of course various types of hybrid solutions could emerge. It is also
possible that certain technologies would prove better suited to an urban
environment and others for long-haul intercity transport.

Advanced technology hedging strategies must be accompanied by a
parallel strategy for conventional transport technologies. Fuel efficiency
standards would likely be needed everywhere (first in developed countries
and later in developing countries) and periodically tightened to achieve
better performances. Energy taxes (or alternatively externality taxes) could
be used especially on fuels of fossil origin, in combination with efficiency
standards, in order to reduce the rebound effect. But a more
comprehensive approach to the transport sector may also be desirable, as
dependence on oil as a fuel and increasing GHG emissions are only two of
transport-related problems. The health impacts of polluting emissions from
transport vehicles are very serious and increase with population in urban
environments. Traffic congestion (and parking space limits) increases the
time spent commuting; noise pollution is a growing nuisance and possible
health hazard; occupancy of public spaces by cars restricts other activities.
In urban environments the problem of mobility could be addressed
through appropriate public transport planning and development, which
would reduce the amount of resources used (energy, space, time) and of
pollutants emitted. While system planning is key to finding and
integrating good solutions, new and more efficient public transport
technologies are needed too, in order to significantly decrease transport
energy needs and polluting emissions. However, a more flexible set of
solutions to transport services may become available thanks to the
diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICT).

Air transport deserves a separate discussion. This segment of energy
demand has seen the most rapid increase of any part of the transport
sector over the last two decades. Increasing incomes make this form of
transport more accessible for a growing number of people while
simultaneously changes in attitudes and of social standards make long
distance travel for tourism and vacation routine for a wider segment of the
population. Decreasing the energy demands of this form of transport, and
the pollution it originates, without reducing mobility is a challenge that


3.A Normative Scenario to 2050: the SD Vision Scenario

requires improved load management, much more efficient aircraft
technologies and materials, and ultimately innovative engine design and
fuels. Hydrogen could be one such fuel, but certainly it will not be viable
very soon.

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