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Methanol: a future transport fuel based on hydrogen and carbon dioxide?

Methanol posterThis briefing note is based on the STOA project on Methanol: a future transport fuel based on hydrogen and carbon dioxide? The project discusses the technological, environmental and economic barriers for producing methanol from carbon dioxide, as well as the possible uses of methanol in car transport in Europe. Costs and benefits are evaluated from a life-cycle perspective in order to compare different feedstocks for methanol production and to account for the potential benefits of CO2-derived methanol in the transition to a more diversified fuel mix in the transport sector. Benefits in terms of reduced dependence on conventional fossil fuels and lower risks to security of supply can be envisioned in the medium and long term.


© Nico Armbrust / Fotolia

It is nonetheless evident that considerable and sustained research efforts are necessary to turn CO2 into an efficient and competitive prime material, which would be attractive not only for the transport sector, but also other industries. The competitiveness of CO2-derived methanol will largely depend on how effective future policies will be in addressing several critical issues and drivers, namely:

  • The level of priority that transport policy assigns to environmental considerations – first of all CO2 abatement – and to security of supply concerns.
  • The uncertainty of future technology developments in the transport sector and the need to avoid stranded investments in the medium and long-term.
  • The need for bringing down the costs of captured CO2 and stimulating its potential uses, among them methanol production.
  • The perspectives of sizeable improvements in the competitiveness of methanol fuel cells within a free market framework.
  • The opportunity of promoting a diversified range of solutions for different types of transport fleets taking into account the high likelihood of competition for fuels between all transport sectors.

Four policy options are outlined hereafter, reflecting as many different approaches to balancing free market rules with the ambition to support and promote the development of a CO2-derived methanol sector. Read the complete executive summary here.

Read the complete study.

The table below summarizes the main pros and cons of the four policy options:

Methanol policy options

About Scientific Foresight (STOA)

The Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) carries out interdisciplinary research and provides strategic advice in the field of science and technology options assessment and scientific foresight. It undertakes in-depth studies and organises workshops on developments in these fields, and it hosts the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH), a platform to promote networking, training and knowledge sharing between the EP, the scientific community and the media. All this work is carried out under the guidance of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA), composed of 27 MEPs nominated by 11 EP Committees. The STOA Panel forms an integral part of the structure of the EP.


3 thoughts on “Methanol: a future transport fuel based on hydrogen and carbon dioxide?

  1. Thanks for finally writing about >Methanol: a future transport fuel
    based on hydrogen and carbon dioxide? | European Parliamentary Research Service <Loved it!

    Posted by class c ip | October 2, 2014, 01:31


  1. Pingback: In Focus: Energy Security | European Parliamentary Research Service - June 23, 2014

  2. Pingback: Methanol: a future transport fuel based on hydrogen and carbon dioxide? | Global Sustainable Energy News - April 30, 2014

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