New fuels for transport: the cost of renewable solutions

Although there is a great deal of focus on using renewable energy to replace grid power systems, there has been less analysis on renewable energy usage for the transport sector.  This cost report from the International Renewable Energy Agency provides an outlook on decarbonising this important sector by 2020.  The report focuses primarily on  biofuels and electric, battery-powered vehicles.

The report notes that both biofuels and EVs are at a very early stage of mass-deployment.  Their uptake is dependent of several external forces:  Biofuel is effected by the price of food crops, as scarce land acreage for biofuel is often in competition with food production.  EVs are effected by availability and price of the natural resources like lithium that are used to make the high-powered batteries neccesary for long-range vehicles.  For both options, policy support in the form of manufacturing incentives and tax deductions may help increae the uptake of these new types of fuels. 

IRENA notes that the analysis for this report is still preliminary and subject to variation based on the rapid growth of both EV technology and advanced biofuels like biodiesel from lignocellulosic feedstocks.  Biodiesel may be the most promising option for countries in Cleanleap regions as it can often be retrofitted to existing vehicles with minimal modification.