FuelsEurope: “What’s our place in the future?”

Europe’s oil refiners are dedicated to transforming the refining industry through the introduction of low-carbon liquid fuels with their representatives, FuelsEurope, promising ‘Clean Fuels for All’ by 2050.

FuelsEurope, who represent the refining industry in the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK have released their ‘Vision 2050’ promising ‘Clean Fuels for All’.” The plan shows that intermediate CO2 reductions of 100 million tonnes are achievable by 2035, and that low carbon liquid fuels (LCLFs) will contribute to a climate-neutral economy by 2050.

‘Vision 2050’ is a first and foremost a “pathway for the evolution of the refining industry and liquid fuels”. Through this strategy, FuelsEurope has acknowledged the important, enduring role they play in the energy choices of the future, and want to provide low-carbon liquid fuels to complement low-carbon electrons, gas and hydrogen as energy carriers. 

Also known as synthetic fuels, LCLFs are sustainable fuels from non-petroleum origins with no or limited CO2 emissions produced during production and use. 

John Cooper, Director General at Fuels Europe and Concawe, and Alain Mathuren, Communication Director at FuelsEurope and Concawe spoke to CleanTech News about their new vision and their hopes of steering  the oil refining industry towards sustainability. 

 “We’ve put together quite an ambitious strategy” Cooper said. “It is ground-breaking for us as an industry. […] What we see has changed over the past few years is that the societal support for strong policies and strong climate action has really come on in the last three or four years and we’ve responded to that and challenged ourselves to say: ‘What’s our place in the future?’”

FuelEurope’s place in the future
FuelsEurope: “What’s our place in the future?” - CleanTech News
Mr John Cooper

When asked about FuelEurope’s “place in the future”, Cooper discussed his new, ambitious pathway with CleanTech, showing the passion the organisation has in aiding the EU’s climate neutrality objective by 2050.

“We got there,” he told us, “we worked out how to do this, we’ve done an approximate costing for that, we’ve also worked through how you go through the process of scaling up all the technologies you need.” 

With their ambitious targets to transform the transport and fuel industry, FuelsEurope feel prepared to fulfil their goals, Cooper told us concerning this,

“The dream is, we now say, within reach, every vehicle that is on the road or in the sky by 2050 in Europe can be climate-neutral; whether it has got an electric motor and a battery, or whether it’s got hybrid and internal combustion engine, it will run on climate-neutral energy”

We asked Cooper about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry, and how a new environmentally conscious world pushing for a green recovery has impacted FuelEurope’s business model. 

“We realise that it’s not going to be the same after the pandemic” Cooper began. “We want to propose a really revolutionary set of changes to our industry to be fit for the future. We think we can achieve carbon neutrality.”

What is possibly the most imperative step for FuelsEurope is making their LCLFs attractive to their consumer, in doing this they need to break to the mould of how people think of fossil fuels. Cooper discussed their strategy to change people’s opinion of how the oil refining industry impacts the environment, stating:

“At the moment the main focus is to say: low carbon liquid fuels are within reach, technologically this is possible, we think it’s really valuable to make it happen, let’s make it attractive for the customers. Once you get it right for the customer that’s when the market will really take off”.

Although this new strategy may appear ambitious, in light of their technologies and resources, Cooper remains confident that for FuelsEurope ‘Vision 2050’ is well within reach. Telling CleanTech News they plan to invest €650 billion into their vision, Cooper stated:

“The pilot plans for every one of these technologies exist. […] We’re calling for tough targets with long term trajectory so that everybody in our industry knows this is where we’re going, this is what we’ve got to invest when we get there.”

Tackling challenges for the future of the industry  

Possibly one of the biggest challenges faced by FuelsEurope is relaying their message to the CleanTech community and ensuring they are recognised for their efforts towards climate neutrality. Both Cooper and Mathuren stressed to CleanTech News their drive to contribute to the EU’s plans to be climate neutral by 2050.

Cooper stated concerning FuelsEurope place in the CleanTech community: “when people listen to us they think we have got an agenda to try and stop electrification and electric cars, or to try and stop hydrogen cars. We don’t. These strategies are complementary to electric cars and electrification”.

This notion was echoed by FuelEurope’s Director of Communication, Alain Mathuren who stated: “my message is: we are serious and we believe we are a solution because we will address all the gaps that electrification will face”.

FuelsEurope: “What’s our place in the future?” - CleanTech News
Mr Alain Mathuren

Starting with Europe, FuelsEurope is dramatically revolutionising the oil refining industry. Once their vision is executed in Europe, the possibility for growth and worldwide innovation is on the horizon Looking to the future, Cooper said: 

“We think the expansion is potentially beyond Europe because at the moment this works in Europe because it is prepared to put the strong policies in place. You can see already there are other regions in the world that are likely to go slower. Where this will work really well is when we can get to the point to export the technology, the business models, the policy models to get a bigger opportunity to everybody”.

Through technological innovation, passion and dedication FuelsEurope are on their way to revolutionising the way we think about the oil refining industry. What ‘Vision 2050’ makes clear is that the organisation is committed to transforming the oil refining industry and in turn, the transport industry’s use of oil and petroleum.

Catherine Gray

Catherine Gray is a Senior Writer at CleanTech News, eager to be part of the important discussion around clean technological advances, promoting and celebrating the things that can be achieved. Catherine is particularly interested in how writing can have an impact on people’s lives and hopes to make her own mark in the CleanTech community through championing new innovative technologies. With huge admiration for companies and individuals with the dedication to make positive advances towards a carbon net-zero future and an advocate for sustainably in day to day life, Catherine looks forward to being actively involved in the CleanTech community.