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Alternative fuels debate: are green cars the future of European transport? (2013 02 19)

Alternative fuels such as biofuels, natural gas or electricity have been pitched as a way to overcome Europe's dependence on oil as no less than 94% of transport uses it, of which 84.3% is imported. However, support is needed if vehicles running on these alternative fuels are to take off. The Commission presented its ideas for this in its Clean Power for Transport strategy, which will be presented to the EP's transport committee on 19 February. We talked to chair Brian Simpson about it.

What should the EU do to promote alternative fuels? © BELGA_DPA_David Ebener.

The challenge of promoting green cars

Alternative fuels might be the solution to reducing transport's impact on the environment but they are being held back by low consumer demand caused by high prices and a lack of recharging and refuelling stations, which in turn discourage consumers from buying green cars. 

Mr Simpson, a British member of the S&D group, welcomed the Commission's long-term strategy for changing this. "We cannot keep relying on fossil fuels. Much of the focus is on electric cars, but we must remember that there are still problems with this solution, not least with battery life. I believe that other fuels, such as water-based fuels and biofuels, may also have a part to play."

The need for infrastructure

The Commission is proposing a package of binding targets on member states for a minimum level of infrastructure for clean fuels. However, would this solve the problem?

Mr Simpson said it was a dilemma to know what to put in place first. "I believe that the infrastructure needs to be in place to give consumers the confidence to buy non-fossil fuel powered vehicles." However, he added: "It should be the producers of non-fossil fuel options that fund the infrastructure, just as petrol manufacturers pay for petrol stations."     

European Parliament, © News service, 14 02 2013


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