Oil majors investing 8 times more in biofuels than hydrogen: T&E

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Europe’s oil majors’ ‘big bet’ on hydrogen as the transport fuel for the future is not so big in reality, according to a new study by Transport & Environment (T&E).
The NGO argues that investments in biofuels refining are eight times bigger. T&E accuses oil producers of not being serious about investing in genuinely clean fuels, but are choosing the unsustainable biofuels option.
Where Europe’s oil giants Shell, BP, Total, ENI and Repsol are investing in hydrogen, only part of this is truly ‘green’. Most of their investments are going towards decreasing the carbon intensity of their refinery operations, not for developing green transport fuels, the study shows.
Geert Decock, electricity and energy manager at T&E, said: “Oil producers are promoting hydrogen as their big bet for the future, but in reality their investments in green hydrogen are pitiful. Instead they are focusing their new refining capacity on biofuels which cannot sustainably supply the world’s transport needs. This is not an industry pushing the boundaries of clean technology.”
Oil demand for road transport in the EU will fall by almost a third in 2035 as more cars switch to electric, the study shows. From 2035, demand for petrol will continue to drop 5% year on year.
Much current refining capacity will need to close or, to avoid becoming stranded assets, be converted into processing alternative fuels.
Of the refining sector’s €39 billion in planned investments for alternative fuels up until 2030, almost 75% will go towards increasing biofuels production. €2 to €3 billion will be invested in new advanced biofuels (HVO) plants alone, doubling production capacity to 10 megatonnes by 2030.
This is four times higher than what can be sustainably sourced in the EU, according to T&E’s analysis. This will likely lead to limited ‘waste’ products like animal fats being taken from other industries, as well as mass imports of dubious used cooking oil from abroad.

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