This article is part of our special report Rural Energy.
A debate organised by think-tank Friends of Europe concluded that there was a need for a co-ordinated approach to alternative fuels from all stakeholders and politicians, particularly at member state level.
As global energy demand is expected to grow in the next decades, Europe is faced with rising public concerns over energy dependence from outside regions and environmental issues. Road transport is under particular strain in this respect as it lies at the intersection of sometimes conflicting interests between the commercial and competitiveness requirements of road freight and vehicle manufacturers and issues such as public health, traffic congestion and climate change.
In this context, alternative fuels appear like a possible 'silver bullet'. The question remains as to which ones will gain support from stakeholders across the board, including vehicle manufacturers, green activists and public authorities at all levels.
Alternative fuels currently competing for support include LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), BTL (biomass-to-liquid), hydrogen and the diesel substitute DmE (dimethyl ether). However, they need to meet a whole range of expectations coming from consumers (performance, safety), suppliers (distribution, network) and manufacturers (costs, attractiveness, performance).
Policy-makers speaking at this Friends of Europe debate tried to give an assessment of those fuels from a "well to wheels" perspective.