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Sustainability Impact Assessment of Strategies Integrating Transport, Technology and Energy Scenarios

Final Report Summary - TRIAS (Sustainability Impact Assessment of Strategies Integrating Transport, Technology and Energy Scenarios)

The TRIAS project is performing a quantitative 'sustainability impact assessment of strategies integrating transport, technology and energy scenarios' for the European Union. The project objectives to fulfil this task are:
- Develop and test strategies to reduce greenhouse gas and noxious emissions from transport based on the trilogy (trias) of transport, technology and energy scenarios.
- Base the assessment on an integrated model-based approach looking at environmental, economic and social impacts (sustainability impact assessment).
- Provide an open field for both external scenarios and scenarios developed in TRIAS.

- Consider the life-cycle implications of all strategies investigated.

The challenge of the project is to describe and model the symbiotic development of both the energy and transport system. Such a development has to overcome a number of 'hen-and-egg' problems where one action only appears to happen, after another action has happened, which in turn required the first action to have happened. In particular, this is valid for the introduction of new transport technologies that require adapted energy supply technologies like the introduction of hydrogen as a fuel for transport.

The project results achieved were an update of the POLES, ASTRA, Vaclav and Regio-Sustain models with new model elements required for the specific scenario analysis in TRIAS e.g. extending to the time horizon 2050, adding new technologies to the vehicle fleets, modelling of biofuels for the energy and transport markets as well as the new development of the Biofuel model. In particular, the ASTRA model made a large step ahead as during the course of the project it was agreed to actually modularise the software and to develop a tool that would merge it back to the integrated system dynamics model that incorporates the most important feedbacks between transport, energy, technology and the economy.

A further achievement was the improved linkage between ASTRA and POLES that enabled fast running of scenarios in an iterative manner and achieving convergence between the two models. Applying the improved models and using the newly established linkages between the models the eight scenarios could be tested and compared with the business-as-usual scenario.

The main conclusion is that all scenarios showed a positive impact on the economy, though in most of the scenarios the improvement remained quite limited. The two most effective scenarios were the first mover scenario for hydrogen and the introduction of CO2 emission limits, because the main driver for making scenarios positive were the additional investments induced by the policy and these were the scenarios with the highest investments. A further stimulus was the reduction of fossil fuel imports. It has clearly to be noticed that all scenarios were comprehensively specified such that e.g. to increase investments always either increased cost, increased taxes or government expenditures are specified that would keep the economic system closed.

Looking closer at the results for GDP and CO2 emission from transport it seems that European policy making goes into the right direction. In the shorter term setting CO2 emission limits will provide economic stimulus as well as it will reduce CO2 emission. This can be enforced by fostering biofuels, though it should be taken into account to limit the use of biofuels, because (1) overdrawn use of biofuels would lead to strong conflicts between the use of biomass for food and the use for energy, which seems not to be reasonable considering (2) that the impacts on economy and CO2 emissions of the biofuels policies remain limited.

In the longer term, hydrogen seems to be a suitable option to foster economic growth and to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts of transport. However, this presupposes that this hydrogen is mainly produced from renewable sources.

Finally, two issues should be taken into account:
(1) the policies analysed in TRIAS are designed rather conservative, and in particular concerning CO2 reduction targets until 2050 the policies have to be designed more ambitious, and
(2) the recent technology development of batteries, which was not considered in the TRIAS scenarios, could make that battery-electric vehicles will play a more important role than in the TRIAS scenarios.