Transport sector

Transport is the only sector in which energy use and CO2 emissions are still growing year by year. Road transport (person and freight) is responsible for 96% of the final energy use. Rail, domestic shipping and aviation are taking up the remaining 4% share. 

Current final energy use amounts to 27% and CO2 emissions to 28% of Belgium's totals. Fossil fuels dominate with 95% in the final energy demand, with a small share of blended biofuels and electricity. 

We have identified following options where technically possible, with the most recent costs and efficiency estimates towards 2050: 

  • Fuel substitution 
  • Electrification, plugin hybrid and full electric road transport 
  • Synthetic molecules (H2 and derivates), hydrogen fuel cells 

International aviation and shipping are not taken into account in this analysis, as we focus on the energy use and emissions that take place in Belgium. Today, these sectors typically use kerosene and heavy fuel oil from so-called bunkers, mainly imported fuels.

Final energy use and CO2 emissions

Electrification of road transport is key to decarbonise this sector.  

By 2030, in the three scenarios, the model shows an uptake of 2 million electric person vehicles. Freight and heavy transport still use diesel in 2030, 2040 and even 2045.  

In all three scenarios, a full electrification is selected as cost effective solution by 2050 (30 TWh). The speed of electrification is higher (in 2040) in the Electrification scenario due to a faster uptake of electric trucks, and also slightly higher in the Clean Molecules scenario, due to access to cheaper electricity. 

The use of clean molecules for road transport is not cost effective to reach net-zero. 

Electrification leads to a huge energy efficiency improvement. The final energy use decreases from almost 100 TWh in 2020 to 34 TWh in 2050 – that is a 76% reduction. Rail transport is almost completely electrified in Belgium today and increases (person and freight) are reflected in a higher electricity demand (2 TWh in 2050). Compared to road transport, rail only uses 7% of the electricity. 

The very small energy share of inland shipping and aviation switches respectively to biofuels and hydrogen. We can expect a much larger need for clean molecules to bring international aviation on track to net-zero.

The transport sector fully decarbonises by 2050.

The speed of CO2 reductions differs in the 3 scenarios. The faster electrification of road transport in 2040 in the Electrification and the Clean Molecules scenario leads to lower CO2 emissions compared to the Central scenario.

  • By 2030, investing in more than
    2 million

    electric person vehicles would be cost effective and puts us on track to net-zero 2050.

  • By 2050 our road transport is
    fully electrified

  • By 2050, electrification leads to an efficiency improvement of

    Total energy demand decreases from 100 TWh today to 34 TWh.

  • By 2050, at least
    1,1 million

    smart charging stations (average 7,5 kW peak) are needed to provide demand flexilibility.

Annual costs

Electrification of the road transport sector will come at a cost. The transition from a scenario without stringent climate ambition (run at a CO2 tax of 50 €/ton) to a net-zero 2050 will add an annual investment and operational cost of 9,5 billion euro in the Central scenario. We can conclude from this that electrification of the sector (mainly trucks) will only take place at CO2 prices higher than 50 €/ton.

The largest share of the cost will go to the purchase of electric vehicles and trucks at a higher cost than the alternatives with combustion engine. Besides these costs we also allocated costs for strenghtening the distribution grid and charging infrastructure to the transport sector.  

Now let's take a look
at the Hydrogen sector

Let's take a look!
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