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Title: Clean power for transport: a European alternative fuels strategy
Sectors of Transport: Environment and climate change, Transport, Tackling climate change, Clean & urban transport and sustainable transport, Cleaner transport, Transport targets
Clean power for transport: a European alternative fuels strategy

Clean power for transport: a European alternative fuels strategy

Europe depends heavily on imported oil to fuel its transport system. This places a heavy cost on the European economy, raises concerns about security of supply and, in the long run, is environmentally unsustainable. This dependency must be replaced by alternative fuels with the necessary infrastructure.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Clean power for transport: A European alternative fuels strategy (COM(2013) 17 final of 24.1.2013).



It presents a comprehensive strategy for alternative fuels, explaining how these can be applied to all forms of transport. The strategy covers technological developments, investment in using the new fuels and ways to explain the benefits to the public.


  • No single fuel solution exists for different forms of transport - road (passenger and freight), rail, air and water.
  • Gas: possibilities exist through liquified petroleum gas, natural gas including biomethane, liquified natural gas, compressed natural gas and gas-to-liquid.
  • Electricity: electric vehicles (EVs) using electricity from the grid are becoming more numerous as the technology matures.
  • Biofuels: the most important type of alternative fuel for achieving the 10 % of renewable energy target in transport by 2020. The average share of renewable energy sources in transport fuel consumption across the EU-28 (1) was 5,1 % in 2012.
  • Hydrogen: hydrogen fuel cells are increasingly being used in cars, buses, light vans and inland shipping.
  • Infrastructure for the distribution of alternative fuels: this must be as extensive as possible so that manufacturers can enjoy economies of scale and users an adequate network.
  • Standards: common technical, and safety, specifications are essential, particularly for electronic vehicles.
  • Consumer acceptance: the public should be informed of the benefits of, and encouraged to embrace, the new forms of fuel.


In 2012, oil accounted for 94 % of energy used in transport and amounted to a deficit of some 2,5 % of GDP in the EU’s trade balance. Using alternative fuels could cut €4,2 billion a year from the EU’s oil import bill by 2020, rising to €9,3 billion in 2030.

For more information, see the European Commission's Clean power for transport website.

last update 30.04.2015

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.

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