European Commission at ‘full throttle’ for clean fuel targets

The European Commission has today proposed a package of binding targets on Member States to invest in infrastructure for alternative fuels such as electric charging points for road transport and liquefied natural gas (LNG) refuelling points for ships.

According to the commission, policy initiatives thus far have mostly addressed the actual fuels and vehicles, without considering fuel distribution.

This strategy is aimed at overcoming a number of obstacles which mean refuelling stations are not being built because there are not enough vehicles and vehicles are not sold at competitive prices because there is not enough demand.

Some of the measures in the package include requiring each member state to install a minimum number of recharging points and to use a common plug.

In addition, the mobility of hydrogen vehicles will be addressed by requiring the 14 member states that currently have hydrogen refuelling stations to link up in order to form a network with common standards.

European Commission vice president Siim Kallas said: “Developing innovative and alternative fuels is an obvious way to make Europe’s economy more resource efficient, to reduce our overdependence on oil and develop a transport industry which is ready to respond to the demands of the 21st century.

“Between them, China and the US plan to have more than 6 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020. This is major opportunity for Europe to establish a strong position in a fast growing global market.”

NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) cautiously approved of the proposal describing it as “a small but largely welcome step.”

T&E director Jos Dings explained the proposals could be a solid starting point.

“Achieving 70% emissions reductions by 2050 requires many measures, and moving away from today’s liquid fuels is surely one of them. Clean electrification is one important option and obliging member states to roll out electric charging infrastructure is one step towards it.

“With this proposal in place, we should move full throttle in setting ambitious CO2 standards for cars and vans for 2020 and 2025, so that carmakers will actually make the vehicles that will use this infrastructure,” he said.

The move comes the day after a report by the Energy Saving Trust found that businesses which switch to electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles could reduce their fleet fuel costs by 75%. 

Conor McGlone

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