Italy ahead on biofuels, but few for cars

Eni expects to produce 6 million tons of biofuels a year within ten years, but in Italy 7 million tons of petrol are consumed every year for cars, 23 million tons of diesel for diesel engines and 4.5 million tons for jet kerosene. The difficulty of using biofuels to “save” the Italian endothermic engine sector and the country’s petrol and diesel car fleet lies entirely in these numbers. Representatives of the Italian government and industry argue that biofuels could make it possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, maintaining the current fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles. Biofuels would serve to accompany the transition to the electric car, which everyone believes is right and inevitable: internal combustion vehicles could continue to circulate without net CO2 emissions, giving companies more time to convert back to electric and consumers to replace the old cars. Italy is far ahead in the research and production of biofuels, thanks to research and investments by Eni. The Porto Marghera refinery was converted to bio in 2014, the one in Gela in 2019. The plants transform used vegetable and frying oils, animal fats, oils extracted from dedicated crops and not in competition with agricultural production. In the Livorno refinery, Eni produces biofuel for aircraft, Saf (Sustainable Aviation Fuel).
It is currently blended with 20% fossil fuel to reduce its carbon footprint. The Six-Legged Dog aims to produce 2 million tons of biofuels a year in 2025, and to reach 6 million a year in a decade. To do this, the group is investing in various African countries to create large plantations of oil crops, particularly castor, which require little water and do not compete with food crops. An agrihub was inaugurated last year in Kenya, a second will follow in the same country, a third will open this year in Congo. The business is extremely promising for the aviation sector, where electrification is impossible, and the only way to decarbonise jets is biofuels. Italy consumes about 4.5 million tons of aviation kerosene per year. The 6 million tons a year that Eni intends to produce within ten years would therefore have a natural market.
It would be much more difficult to cover the automotive sector with green fuels. Italy, according to 2021 data from the Ministry of Enterprise, consumes 7 million tons of petrol a year for cars and 23 million tons of diesel for diesel engines. Not by chance, asked a few months ago by ANSA about the European proposal to stop internal combustion engines by 2035, the CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi, hadn’t shown concern: “For biofuels there are aviation and maritime Even without the car, the market is there”.

Source: Ansa

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