Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


The European Community may provide a potential market for about 245 MTOE/year of synthetic fuels in the early part of the 21st century. The major potential outlets will be as fuel for road and air transportation and as feedstock for the petrochemical industry. A broad range of light hydrocarbon liquids will be required to meet these needs. Synfuels of the type required could be produced from coal or from indigenous biomass. In general the processes starting from coal are more efficient and are much closer to economic viability than are the processes starting from biomass. This situation is unlikely to change within the time frame considered by this study. Analysis in terms of the Commissions R&D Policy shows that synfuels from coal is a more promising subject for R&D in Europe than is synfuels from biomass. The expected future needs for synfuels can be met only by coal and the contribution from biomass will at best be marginal. Processes to produce synfuels from coal are in general more efficient which, inter alia, leads to lower production costs. Thus synfuels from coal would more effectively promote industrial competitiveness. Not only are synfuels from biomass likely to be expensive but they probably offer less added value than the alternative uses for land in Europe and as such may not be the best way to promote agricultural competitiveness. Community involvement in synfuels from biomass could, however, be usefully directed towards aiding developing countries which are naturally strong in biomass and could offer some limited advantages in terms of protecting the environment and safeguarding human health. Synfuels from coal have considerably more promise overall when viewed within the scope of this study and this preference is reflected by the actual spending of the Member States on synfuels R&D. Spending by the Commission, however, on synfuels R&D has been minimal to date and has been characterized by a relatively heavy emphasis on synfuels from biomass. A redirection of R&D effort towards synfuels from coal is suggested. This can best be achieved by confining future R&D under the much reduced New Energy Vectors (NEV) subprogramme to synfuels from coal. Of the 10 MECU available to the NEV sub-programme it is recommended that about 9 MECU be spent on R&D on synfuels from coal and that the balance be spent on studies which will help to orient coal research and which will address a limited range of general topics on synfuels from both coal and biomass.

Additional information

Bibliographic Reference: EUR 10486 EN (1986) MF, 33 P., BFR 150, BLOW-UP COPY BFR 200, EUROFFICE, LUXEMBOURG, POB 1003
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