Shell Says Hydrogen Is Heavy Transport’s Future. What Now For Biofuels?


Hydrogen will be the key energy source for global road freight, according to a new report commissioned by European oil major Shell. Electrification is the most economic and environmental solution for smaller delivery vehicles. The study, carried out by global accountancy firm Deloitte on Shell’s behalf, questioned 158 executives in the road freight sector in 22 different countries. To learn more, read Shell Says Hydrogen Is Heavy Transport’s Future. What Now For Biofuels?”

Key Takeaways:

  • Of those interviewed for the report, 70% ranked decarbonization as a top-three concern for their business and many said they expect hydrogen to be commercially viable in just five to 10 years.
  • Carlos Maurer, EVP of sectors and decarbonization at Shell, stated, “We believe that once produced at scale, hydrogen will likely be the most cost-effective and viable pathway to net-zero emissions for heavy-duty and long-route medium-duty vehicles, and electric mobility will do the same for light-duty and short-route medium-duty vehicles.”
  • Major truck manufacturers in Europe have accelerated the target date for their diesel engine phase-out from 2050 to 2040. Hydrogen and electrification are the low-carbon technology options of choice.
  • Biofuels are more likely to play their largest role in the short term when it comes to the transportation sector; however, there are other transport end markets where biofuels hold a strong advantage.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Decarbonizing the transportation sector will be a key step in realizing a 100% renewable energy future. Investments in hydrogen production, both in policies and infrastructure, will accelerate the timeline for commercial viability.



Photo by Marc Rentschler on Unsplash

Q&A Series: Santiago Barcón Uses the Written Word to Accelerate Renewable Energy Innovation

Santiago Barcón is CEO of PQBarcon and Energía Hoy (Energy Today). He’s an entrepreneur, advisor and writer with a degree in electrical engineering from Universidad Iberoamericana. Follow him on Twitter: @sbarconenergia.

Question:  Please describe yourself and your work. 

Santiago: I am an electrical engineer with more than 30 years of experience, where I have been focused on power quality. I have co-authored the book published by McGraw-Hill titled: “Calidad de la Energía: Factor de potencia y filtrado de armónicas,” translated means “Power Quality: Power factor and harmonic filtering.” I have also written 45 technical papers and write a monthly column at Energia Hoy.

Q: How did you become interested in renewable energy? And what is your goal for a renewable energy future?

Santiago: As a professional in the sector, you have to be attentive to new technologies where renewables are a fundamental part. Additionally, I have the natural curiosity of an engineer. My goal is to speed up the integration of renewable energies within the energy matrix.

Q: Your book, “Calidad de la energía: factor de potencia y filtrado de armónicas,” was published in 2012. Could you describe the premise of this work and what you hoped to accomplish with its publication?

Santiago: Reactive energy compensation is a forgotten topic in professional education in all countries. Harmonics is a phenomenon that has accelerated in electrical systems and that will continue to increase. We wanted a work that would allow us to learn about the subject and highlight its importance. I think we got it. The print edition is out of print but you can download it for free here.

Q: You are on the Editorial Board of Energia Hoy and write a monthly column. What subjects have been most important for you to write about over the years?

Santiago: Analysis of the Mexican energy sector with a special emphasis on the electricity branch. I try to provide a technical analysis on what each of the participants requires to provide a better understanding of the power grid as a whole. I also try to point out the best practices from around the world.

Q: Now, why do you consider the transmission network one of the main challenges Mexico faces on its way to clean and affordable energy?

Santiago: A robust transmission network offers the ability and flexibility to place generations, of any type, at the optimum performance point. For example, we should leverage our renewable potential and even export it.

Q: Finally, how can Mexico contribute to the journey to 100 percent renewable energy around the world? And what progress do you foresee for the region in the coming years?

Santiago: Each country has its own unique challenges. Economic leaders must lead by example: they are the ones with the resources and also the ones who contribute the most. In Mexico, on the other hand, we must not lose sight of the fact that we need to provide sustainable and affordable power to more than three million Mexicans. This figure is not the official one, but I do not believe that just having a photovoltaic system equals electrification: It requires power so they can use motors and other devices. Lighting is not electrification.


Photo: Andrés Medina on Unsplash