Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuel & emissions discussions in the wake of the IPCC report.

By October 15, 2018 No Comments

Fossil fuel & emissions discussions in the wake of the IPCC report. Dolphin N2 considers the impact & interpretation of the IPCC report from the perspective of those in the transport sector.

In the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published recently, the media has been a frenzy of climate change & zero emissions stories. The focus on global climate temperatures remaining at or below 1.5oC is at the heart of the IPCC report.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I. (1)

Global industrialisation in the late 18th century instigated the use of fossil fuels to produce power and drive vehicles and technologies that have developed over this long period are likely to stay and further evolve in the mid to long term.  There is a tendency, supported by the media, to react by generalising technologies into a like or dislike category rather than focusing objectively on the best solutions and often this process has selective information or plain misinformation in order to make a headline.

What has become noticeable from the media readings Dolphin N2 have undertaken, is a lack of consistency in reporting on the technologies aiding the emissions battle.

In recent weeks we have seen the German government for example now supporting plans to help reduce pollution from traditional diesel engines, while supporting consumers with upgrades. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer & Environment Minister Svenia Schulze told reporters their aims are to keep modern, less polluting diesel vehicles on the roads & in doing so either upgrading or retiring older models.

On the flip side of what the German government are now rolling out, MEPs have recently backed plans to enforce a 40% cut in emissions by 2030, with de-carbonisation of the transport sector needing to accelerate. Not all MEP’s are in agreement with these figures being achievable & concerns are growing for the manufacturing & economic growth of certain European countries.

Bosch presented their latest diesel technologies a the Low Carbon Vehicle show in Millbrook. Their development vehicle exhibits ‘a highly responsive airflow management system for the engine, including the use of a further optimized turbocharger and a combination of high- and low-pressure exhaust-gas recirculation, as well as an active SCR on DPF catalyst and passive downstream SCR catalyst. In addition, Bosch has also developed a sophisticated thermal management system for the diesel engine to help keep exhaust gases and equipment in a temperature range that helps optimize emissions reduction over a wide range of driving and environmental conditions.’ (2)

‘Since 2017, the European EU6 RDE standard has required that new passenger car models be tested according to a mix of urban, extra-urban, and freeway cycles and emit an average of no more than 168 milligrams of NOx per kilometre. From2020, this limit will be cut to 120 milligrams yet even, the demonstration vehicles equipped with Bosch’s new diesel technology have demonstrated that they can achieve average NOx emissions of as low as 13 mg/km over the course of a drive that fits the EU6-RDE testing requirements.’ (2)

This approach shows that there is progress in the understanding of the facts that there are ways to continue using fossil fuels, we just need to learn to adapt to the emissions expectations, rather than eradicate this fuel source altogether.

The Concawe report, with research carried out by Ricardo published on the 24th August 2018, went even further to open the discussion on how we should continue to embrace a selection of power sources for transportation & energy, rather than putting all of resources into battery & electrification.

The Concawe report brought to light specific evidence to explore the impact of entire electrification across Europe & one area was the immense cost implications for ensuring electrification could be sustained. For example, the annual cost of implementing an EV ‘Home’ charging scenario across Europe could be 36 billion Euros. The UK currently only has the infrastructure to provide a maximum of 25% of the energy from renewable sources with the remainder coming from non-renewable sources; the question has to be asked, what is the carbon footprint of this  additional energy for EV? Where each EV is approximately equivalent  consumption( depending on usage) to 3 households

In addition to these figures, the Concawe report goes on to explore the use of a combination energy & fuel scenario, still able to reduce the emissions by the expected & dictated levels by 2050. The Concawe report evaluates the use of a combination of low carbon fuels, with biofuel & artificially synthesized eFuels. This technology is seen to work alongside electrification & with a final scenario of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) together with increased use of bio- and eFuels being considered; all three scenarios still would be capable of delivering the ‘EU target of light-duty vehicle parc life well-to-wheels GHG emissions reductions to less than 13 percent of those of 2015 by 2050.’ (3)

Professor Neville Jackson, Ricardo chief technology and innovation officer said:

“The results of this work show that despite advantages for electrification of transport there are also significant environmental and infrastructure challenges. In particular, the analysis suggests that we will achieve more GHG reduction faster and at less cost if we drive towards a mix of electrification and low carbon, clean fuel.” (4)

The Concawe report clearly shows that with care & deliberation a multi layered approach to the use of energy & fuels, can still manage to maintain the expectations of the global emissions policies. Dolphin N2’s work with the CryoPower split cycle engine, is an example of this forward thinking & manipulation of the use of traditional fossil fuel.

However, we are at a point whereby we need to embrace as Simon Brewster – CEO of Dolphin N2 says “Game-changing engine technology” & rather than the media & in certain circumstances, some politicians, making sweeping statements about banning fossil fuelled vehicles; we need to embrace the technologies now which can make the differences in the future.

Simon Brewster goes on to say “Not only do we need to consider the technologies for reducing emissions & acting on them now, we need to consider the manufacturing processes & for example, change consumers attitudes to replacing their cars every two years to enable them to own a more ‘eco-friendly’ model. Although I agree that electrification for city vehicles is right for air quality, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture & the environmental impact of over production & manufacturing. For example, there are ¼ billion cars alone in the United States, with 800 cars per 1000 people. These figures are staggering & we do need to start considering the life cycle emissions of everyone, not just those in government & manufacturing”

Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5°C, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be. “The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I. (5)