The world is facing an urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean energy sources to mitigate the effects of climate change. The transportation sector is a significant contributor to these emissions, and decarbonizing the sector is crucial for achieving global climate goals. This article provides a basic introduction to the key pillars of mobility decarbonization and energy transition and how they work together to achieve a sustainable transportation future.
The first pillar of mobility decarbonization is the shift to electric vehicles (EVs). EVs are powered by electricity, rather than fossil fuels, and produce no tailpipe emissions. As battery technology continues to improve, the range and cost of EVs are also improving, making them increasingly viable alternatives to gasoline and diesel vehicles. Governments can provide incentives for the adoption of EVs, such as tax breaks and access to charging infrastructure, to encourage the transition to electric transportation. With progress in battery technologies, the overall full life cycle impact of batteries is rapidly reducing. Think circular economy meets no tailpipe emissions.
The second pillar is the promotion of alternative forms of transportation, such as public transportation, biking, and walking. These forms of transportation are often more energy-efficient than cars and emit no emissions themselves. Governments can invest in the development of clean transportation infrastructure, such as building bike lanes and expanding public transportation systems, to encourage the use of alternative forms of transportation. We have seen rapid progress on that front in major cities such as New York and London.
The third aspect is all about green and renewable energy. No use of electricity-powered systems is the source is not efficiently produced. Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, can be used to charge EVs and power public transportation systems. Investing in clean energy not only reduces transportation emissions but also helps to decarbonize the overall energy system. Governments can provide incentives for the development of renewable energy sources and establish regulations to phase out the use of fossil fuels in the energy sector.
The fourth pillar is the development of low-carbon liquid fuels, such as biofuels and hydrogen. Biofuels are made from plant materials and can be used in place of gasoline and diesel in internal combustion engines. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel in fuel cell vehicles, which convert hydrogen into electricity to power the vehicle. Both biofuels and hydrogen have the potential to significantly reduce transportation emissions.
An example of low-carbon liquid fuels development like hydrogen, is found in Norway. The Norwegian government has launched the “Hydrogen Roadmap” which aims to establish a hydrogen infrastructure and promote the use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel.
The roadmap includes several measures to support the development and use of hydrogen fuel, such as:
- Investing in the development of hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure.
- Providing financial incentives for the use of hydrogen fuel in the transportation sector.
- Establishing regulations for the use and distribution of hydrogen fuel.
- Promoting the use of hydrogen fuel in the public transportation sector.
Norway is also investing in the research and development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with companies like NEL Hydrogen, which is a leading global hydrogen solutions company based in Norway, is working in the production and distribution of hydrogen fuel and fuel cells. The country is also encouraging the private sector to invest in hydrogen fuel and infrastructure through various initiatives.
As a result, Norway has become a leader in the use and development of hydrogen fuel, with hydrogen fuel stations and vehicles becoming more common in the country. The government also aims to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and become carbon-neutral by 2050, and hydrogen is seen as a key technology in achieving these goals.
The fifth pillar is the implementation of policy and regulations. Governments can establish targets for reducing transportation emissions and provide incentives for the adoption of clean transportation technologies. They can also establish regulations to phase out the use of fossil fuels in transportation and invest in the development of clean transportation infrastructure. One example of a policy and regulation for mobility decarbonization in the United Kingdom is the “Road to Zero” strategy. The Road to Zero strategy is a government plan to phase out the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2040 and to achieve nearly zero emissions from cars and vans on the road by 2050.
All these pillars are important, but they are not mutually exclusive, they are interconnected and dependent on each other. For example, the deployment of EV charging infrastructure is necessary for the growth of EVs, the development of clean energy sources is necessary to power these charging stations. Furthermore, the development of low-carbon liquid fuels and the promotion of alternative forms of transportation are also critical for achieving a sustainable transportation future.