Is it really the end of combustion engines and petroleum in transport?
Transport is almost entirely powered by combustion engines burning petroleum-derived liquid fuels and the global demand for transport energy is large and is increasing. On a life cycle basis, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are NOT zero-CO2 vehicles. The serious health and environmental impacts associated with the mining of metals needed for batteries are currently exported but cannot be ignored as BEV numbers increase. Available battery capacity will have to increase by several hundred-fold for even light duty vehicles (LDVs), which account for less than half of the global transport energy demand, to be replaced by BEVs. Large prior investments in charging infrastructure and electricity generation will be needed for widespread adoption of BEVs to occur. In the short term, various subsidies will be required to promote such a change and in the longer term, the loss of revenue from fuel taxes. Internal combustion engines (ICEs) will continue to power transport, particularly commercial transport, to a large extent for decades to come and will continue to improve. There will also be a role for low-carbon and other alternative fuels where they make sense. However, all such alternatives also start from a low base and face constraints on rapid and unlimited growth. Though BEV numbers will increase fast, they cannot and indeed must not take over transport completely.
20 September 2021 (12:00 BST)
Organised by the IOP Combustion Group and IMechE