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Technology Opportunities and Strategies towards Climate-friendly trAnsport

Final Report Summary - TOSCA (Technology opportunities and strategies towards climate-friendly transport)

Executive summary:

Intra European Union (EU)-27 transport sector-related lifecycle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased from around 900 million tons in 1990 to nearly 1 200 million tons in 2010, a growth by about 30 %. The TOSCA scenarios suggest that these emissions may continue to rise by up to nearly 60 % by 2050 in the absence of new policy intervention. If also including half of intercontinental air transportation, the EU-27 transport sector lifecycle CO2 emissions could more than double by 2050.

TOSCA's technoeconomic assessment suggests that energy use per unit passenger-km or ton-km can be reduced by 30-50 % for most transport modes using technologies that could become available during the 2020s, compared to the average new technology in place today; natural fleet turnover would then translate these new vehicle-based reductions into the entire fleet by mid-century. The only exception to these opportunities are state-of-the-art medium and heavy-duty trucks, which are already comparatively close to the technological fuel efficiency limit and thus offer a lower potential for reducing energy use. In addition, Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) could reduce energy use by another 5-20 %, depending on the transportation mode. And these reductions in CO2 emissions can be further complemented by second generation biofuels and electricity from low carbon sources. A more electricity-based transport system also offers ancillary benefits in terms of reduced energy import dependence.

However, exploiting the potential of these opportunities requires policy intervention. Many of the critical automobile, narrow-body aircraft, and (some) ITS technologies and second generation biofuels rely on substantial (EU-wide) Research and development (R&D) investments in order to be produced at large, commercial scale. In addition, a carbon price of around 150 per tonne of CO2 would be required for the proposed narrow-body aircraft technologies to become cost-effective and this price would need to be more than twice for advanced automobile technologies, unless the new technologies are regulated into the market. Moreover, industry would need to be encouraged to make the capital-intensive investments to manufacture these technologies and fuels. Realising these opportunities thus requires predictable market conditions that need to be ensured by technology and climate policy. Realising these opportunities also requires society to prioritise climate change mitigation over other needs, as these policy interventions will lead to additional public expenditures (and thus to higher taxes or cuts in other government budgets at times of a public finance crisis) and / or to higher prices and thus decreased mobility.

Importantly, given the continuous growth in transportation demand, even assuming very optimistic adoption levels of promising technologies and fuels, it is unlikely that European Commission (EC)-27 transport sector lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be reduced to significantly below 2010 levels by 2050, unless affordable and vast amounts of low-carbon biofuels and electricity can be supplied. Hence, it appears that technological measures alone cannot produce large enough reductions in transport GHG emissions to be compatible with EU climate goals, at least by 2050. The question then is better understanding the potential for behavioural measures to mitigate transport sector GHG emissions, which include reducing the need for transport and shifts toward low-emission modes.

Project context and objectives:

Intra-European transportation generated nearly 25 % of all energy-related EC-wide GHG emissions in 2010, up from 17 % in 1990. With ongoing integration of the EC economy, this share is likely to continue to increase. At the same time, such growth in transportation-related GHG emissions is likely to jeopardise the EC's political goal of keeping the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees.

The main objective of the TOSCA project is to identify the most promising technology and fuel pathways that could help reduce transport related GHG emissions through 2050. To better understand the policy interventions that are necessary to push these (more expensive) technologies and fuels into the market, TOSCA tested a range of promising policy measures under various scenario conditions. The outcomes in each case were then evaluated using different metrics.

In a first step, a techno-economic analysis of major transport modes and fuels was conducted. The starting point was a set of reference technologies, representing the respective average new technology in place within the EC-27 states today. Against this baseline, the fuel efficiency improvement potential and associated costs of future technologies were evaluated. Careful consideration was given to potential constraints and trade-offs. To fully explore the technological potential for reducing GHG emissions, the opportunities for using alternative fuels and the associated costs were also explored. In addition, this analysis evaluated the level of R&D required to achieve technology readiness, the expected point in time when technology readiness will be achieved, and several social and user related acceptability metrics, ranging from direct negative impacts such as higher levels of noise to desired ones such as the generation of jobs within the EC. Many of the inputs into these reports were derived from expert surveys, which were conducted by the respective WP 1-5 teams. The range of systems studied included road and marine vehicles (WP1), aircraft (WP2), railways (WP3), transportation fuels (WP4), and ITS and infrastructures (WP5).

In a second step, the technology, fuel, and infrastructure studies carried out in WPs 1-5 were integrated through a scenario and modelling analysis. After a systematic review of existing European transport scenarios, a set of scenario variables that affect future passenger and freight transport demand was identified. These were then used to formulate four distinct scenarios (three detailed scenarios and one sensitivity case) that describe the future levels of passenger and freight transport demand. To ensure reproducibility of the outcomes, transport demand for each scenario was modelled using the EC Transtools model, under the assumption of no new policies. Due to the limitations of Transtools, the model runs were complemented with other models such as the Aviation Integrated Model (AIM). To obtain the required size and composition of the vehicle fleet along with the resulting emission levels, the Transtools and AIM derived transportation demand (in passenger- and ton-km) were translated into vehicle-km, using vehicle stock models. The market penetration of new technologies and fuels was estimated based on their cost-effectiveness and other scenario conditions. The resulting EC-27 transport emissions were estimated by scenario, and sensitivity tests carried out to assess the robustness of these results.

In a third step, a set of transport policy measures that aim to mitigate these emissions were evaluated. A summary table describes policy measures in terms of relevant dimensions, such as economic efficiency, consumer acceptance, transparency, time to impact and equity. These indicators, in combination with the user and social acceptability metrics developed for each of the technologies in WP1-5, and the resulting level of CO2 emission reduction were then used to evaluate the effectiveness, affordability and acceptability of policy outcomes. In each policy case, the dominant technology/fuel pathways from WPs 1-5, and the resulting emissions were identified. The feasibility, affordability, and acceptability and likelihood of realisation of each policy case were assessed, and sensitivity tests to assess pathway robustness were carried out.

Given the major policy decisions that were at stake, this project was guided by an advisory board and received significant additional input from academics, industry, trade associations, policy makers, Non-governmental organisation (NGO)s, and key participants from relevant existing and former EU projects. A series of workshops, in which these communities were able to interact, played a significant role. To allow an informed discussion, these workshops were supported by focused studies on state-of-the-art technology for transport vehicles, fuels, and infrastructures and their possible future development, on alternative scenarios on future socioeconomic development and transport demand in Europe, and on the integration of these components.

Potential impact:

This project's impact is a better understanding of the necessary but not sufficient role of technology for mitigating transport sector GHG emissions and the resulting need for behavioural measures to control emissions. This is already summarised in the executive summary of the final report. Based on these results, a summary of future research needs was drafted at the TOSCA dissemination workshop in Leipzig, Germany, from 23-25 February 2011, and the final, iterated version is given below. This summary could be used for specifying future EC FP8 calls in that area.

Summary of future research needs

The experts participating in the Leipzig workshop also identified the following research gaps and identified future research needs.

1. Models and tools: As a coordination and support action (CSA) project, TOSCA relied heavily on the use of existing models. While using these models, the following research gaps and opportunities were identified.

2. Technology adoption: The available models for simulating technology adoption tend to focus on only existing technologies, or concentrate on only one alternative technology. Because of this, TOSCA made use of crude deterministic cost-based models, excluding, e.g. risk aversion. A more thorough study of vehicle choice, particularly with regard to passenger cars, is desirable.

3. Complexity and transparency: TOSCA used the TRANSTOOLS version 2 model to project the base case levels of passenger and freight transportation. This model was found to be very complex, and the model outputs insensitive to changes in critical input variables, such as GDP and prices.

4. The need for studying behavioural change: The TOSCA project concluded that technological change is a prerequisite for significantly mitigating GHG emissions. However, on its own, technological change may not be sufficient to reduce the risks of climate change to manageable levels and thus strong reductions in GHG emissions may also require significant change in consumer behaviour. This should be studied in depth. The representation of behaviour and choice in existing models is inadequate for modelling the impact of behavioural changes, which aim to reduce transportation demand, enabled, e.g. through alterations in urban design, the provision of advanced means of telecommunication, education and training campaigns, optimisation of logistics' operation. Behavioural change also includes the introduction of tighter speed limits (on the road and in the air) and passenger and freight modal choice (including supply chains) towards lower GHG emission modes and practices. For example, the opportunities and challenges for a more railway intensive transportation system should be studied with regard to technology development, modal integration, potential reduction of GHG-emissions, the required investments, and overall economics. It was also concluded that any such study of behavioural change should include a quantification of the welfare effects associated with changes in absolute levels of mobility and the ways in which mobility is consumed.

5. Critical technologies and fuels: Mitigating GHG emissions requires reducing the use of fossil fuels: High-performance (electrochemical) energy storage and conversion technologies, such as batteries and fuel cells, are thus critical for storing a sufficiently large amount of energy per unit weight and volume at moderate cost. Although recent progress in battery and fuel cell technology is encouraging, more research should be dedicated to further improving the performance of these systems and reducing their costs. In addition, second generation biofuels can represent an important low GHG emission fuel. However, the limitation of biomass resources requires better understanding of process integration and application potential.

Further areas of research include the following:

1. Policy design, information, and implementation: Participants felt that the interaction between globalisation and EU competition policies on the one hand and the need for GHG mitigation on the other should be studied. Both globalisation and EU competition policies generate new business opportunities, which, however, stimulate more travel and thus make GHG mitigation more difficult. The solution could be a holistic perspective that considers transportation as one element of the economy. A total energy system approach would account for these and many other linkages between transportation and the energy economy, as a larger amount of transportation energy and GHG emissions may, or may not, be offset by less energy and CO2 intensive production of goods and services.

2. Total energy system approach: Although transportation-related GHG emissions are large and rising, transport is only one sector of the energy system in which it is embedded. This dependency is important, as changes in the energy system can affect transport sector GHG emissions or vice-versa. For example, a biofuel-intensive transport sector could affect the supply of biomass for electricity and heat generation, while a change in the electricity system can affect transport sector GHG emissions. The 'greenness' of electrically powered modes depends crucially on the carbon intensity of electricity at the place and time it is used-the use of averages of EU electricity generation can lead to misleading results. Such linkages deserve more attention.

3. Basic research on non-CO2 GHG emissions: The effect of emissions from air transport depends not only on carbon dioxide but also on the effects assumed from oxides of nitrogen and especially water vapour (forming contrails). These non-CO2 GHG emissions may have a greater climate impact than CO2 alone. As aircraft emissions are expected to form an increasing proportion of the total emissions from transport, further research on the effects of especially contrails and their potential transformation into cirrus clouds is of critical importance.

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