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A taxi fills up with ethanol back in 2007. Photo: Björn Larsson Ask / SvD / SCANPIX
This is how Sweden meets its climate goals for transport, a report from the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, estimates that if the goal is to be met, the transport sector will require 25 TWh of electrical energy and as much as 40TWh of biofuels.
Currently Sweden uses about 19 TWh of biofuels and 2.6 TWh of electricity for domestic transport.
“It's not enough to talk about charging stations in central Stockholm. We are also going to need large volumes of biofuel,” Karin Byman, who led the project, told The Local.
She said she was still convinced that a zero carbon transport sector was “technically possible”.
“But it is a big challenge because we need to change the way we look at transport. We need to have a more transport-effective society,” she said. “When we plan our cities we need to look at 'where do you have the shops, where do you have the schools?', so we don't need to have so much traffic.”
Byman stressed that her argument that more energy would be needed from biofuels for transport than from electricity by 2045 did not mean electric cars would not dominate passenger transport.
“The electrical motor is so much more efficient than a normal engine, so it won't require as much electricity as an amount as cars running on biofuel will require,” she explained.
By 2045 she expected most passenger cars to be electric, with biofuel used predominantly for planes, agricultural machinery, and a few of the oldest vehicles.
The increased reliance on biofuels will require new legislation to promote Swedish domestic production and cut out imports of biofuels produced unsustainably from palm oil and other sources.
“We need to look at existing regulation so we don't just ask for more cars to use biofuels, we also need to en encourage more producers of biofuels to invest in new plants,” Byman said.
Sweden was capable of being self-sufficient in biofuels, she said. “We have such big forests and such a big country…There is a lot of waste from felling trees in the forests that they don't care about today because the prices are too low.”