• Alexander Gregory Chaplin
Despite a number of successful European pilot projects and early commercial activities, there remains little eminent acknowledgement of renewable methanol as alternative transport fuel within the current political discourse on future sustainable mobility in the EU. To a large extent this is due to a lack of research findings on the specific potentials of renewable methanol as a viable fuel alternative in the European context. In order to expand the existing knowledge base in this respect, in this Master’s thesis it is assessed how renewable methanol technology can contribute to achieving the three explicit objectives of EU biofuels policy: Greenhouse Gas Savings, Security of Supply and Employment. This research objective is approached by way of quantitative and qualitative analyses which in this form have not yet been undertaken.

With regard to Greenhouse Gas Savings, the potentials of renewable methanol are assessed by way of the Well-to-Wheels (WTW) analysis method for different renewable methanol pathways, as well as comparative fossil- and biofuel pathways. The findings of this analysis demonstrate that renewable methanol technology holds high potentials and favourable prospects: while the EU regulations on minimum greenhouse gas emissions savings of biofuels will become gradually more stringent in the coming years, the investigated renewable methanol fuel pathways not only generally comply with these regulations but far surpass them. In some cases, emissions savings of more than 90% compared to both fossil fuels and first generation biofuels can be achieved.

In view of the policy objective of Security of Supply, the feedstock-flexibility of renewable methanol technology is found to be a fundamental prospect since it enables the utilisation of wastes and other feedstocks which so far have been under-utilised in the production of biofuels. An evaluation of sectorial supply and demand projections for bioenergy-resources in 2020 demonstrates that feedstock availability is not expected to present a barrier to introducing and deploying renewable methanol technology on a large scale in the EU. Moreover, EU trade balance effects are modelled which promise a high potential for monetary savings if the currently projected biofuel imports to the EU in 2020 were to be substituted with domestically produced renewable methanol.

With regard to the Employment objective, the potential job creation effects of deploying renewable methanol technology in the EU are assessed, indicating significant potentials: two prospective outlooks on employment creation are modelled, in one case suggesting that up to 150,000 new jobs could be created in 2020 if domestically produced renewable methanol were to substitute the projected biofuel imports to the EU.

Based on the findings of these core analyses, political recommendations are formulated and discussed, aiming to offer policy-makers indications on how to activate the deployment of renewable methanol technology in the EU, and thereby optimising sustainable energy planning in the European transport sector in general.
SpecialisationSustainable Energy Planning and Management
Publication date10 Jun 2013
Number of pages103
External collaboratorNordic Green
Per Koustrup psk@nordicgreen.eu
Place of Internship
ID: 77407993