The teacher I learned the most from was my driving instructor Heribert Ramrath. One of his wisdoms was the saying: “Don’t try to do everything at the same time. It does not work. Everything in a row: look in the mirror, blink, accelerate, overtake. As in driving, so in life.”
If only all politicians had learned from him! Get out of nuclear power and coal at the same time? It does not work. You end up dependent on Russian natural gas. At the same time, converting as many heating systems and all cars to electric operation as possible, i.e. massively increasing electricity consumption, while at the same time wanting to generate all electricity from wind and sun: That won’t work either.
The decision by the EU Parliament not to allow any new cars with internal combustion engines after 2035 seems more ideological than factually motivated. By condemning the car manufacturers to only deliver electric cars in twelve years’ time, the parliamentarians – contrary to the old gambler’s wisdom never to put everything on one card – are pulling the rug under the research institutes and producers working on so-called e-fuels off your feet.
Certainly, synthetic fuels have so far been quite ineffective. According to ADAC calculations, a three-megawatt wind turbine can supply 1,600 electric, 600 hydrogen and just 250 e-fuel cars with energy. In addition, e-fuels emit CO₂ when burned. All of this speaks against them – but not for a de facto ban.
Firstly, many research institutes are working on improving the energy balance, without which e-fuels would have little chance on the market anyway. Secondly, the e-fuels can be produced where there is plenty of solar, wind or water energy, so that they do not burden local electricity consumption – unlike battery cars.
Thirdly, the CO₂ in e-fuels ideally comes from the air itself, so that the cars are not emission-free but CO₂-neutral. And finally, 37 percent of the electricity in the EU still comes from fossil fuels; So if you charge your electric car, you also emit – indirectly – CO₂, unless the electricity comes from your own solar system.
Mind you: Ever since I gave up my own car and drove electric cars with a car-sharing company, I’ve been a fan of the silent speedsters. When a symphonically bubbling Porsche positions itself next to me at the traffic light, I’m already looking forward to it. I always drive away from him with the VW id4. If I wanted to buy a new car, I wouldn’t need a decision from the EU Parliament to opt for a battery-powered one.
And that’s the point: Why doesn’t the EU Parliament simply decree that all newly registered cars must be climate-neutral from 2035 and leave the rest to the market? If it is possible to produce e-fuels more effectively and cheaply, everyone will benefit. If research and development is hindered by bans, the energy transition will become even more difficult than it already is. What would Heribert Ramrath say about that?