Porsche believes E-fuels are the future

German car giant Porsche invested 75 million in e-fuels corporation HIF Global earlier this year | Source: Are Technica

Porsche-Backed E-Fuel Group to Build Sustainable Plant in Tasmania

Porsche-backed e-fuels group HIF Global has announced its intention to build a A$1 billion facility near the north-western Tasmanian town of Burnie.

The commercial e-fuel facility will be the first of its kind in Australia, using wind power, recycling bio waste and recapturing CO2. The firm secured A$386 million in equity investments in April to fund its eFuels projects in USA, Chile and Australia.

Strong winds and a focus on renewable energy make Tasmania the perfect place for the billion-dollar facility, which will produce up to 100 million litres a year of carbon-neutral e-fuels once fully operational.

Approximately 12.5 per cent of HIF Global is owned by renowned German car manufacturer Porsche and the plant in Burnie, Tasmania will be modelled after a pilot facility in Chile.

Porsche funded an e-fuels plant in Chile
The planned e-fuel plant on the Magellan Straits in Chile | Source: Global Construction Review

E-fuels, which are made using green hydrogen and electricity, offer the added bonus of recycling carbon dioxide in the manufacturing process. Presenting a greener alternative to petrol and diesel, e-fuels can be used in internal combustion engines which are expected to still be common, even with the global shift towards electrification.

The 250-megawatt capacity e-fuels plant will use renewable energy to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis, where the green hydrogen will then be combined with CO2 extracted from the atmosphere. Using technology licensed by ExxonMobil, a methanol to gasoline process will produce fuel for use in combustion engines with all of the water for the process coming from bio waste.

Carbon is still emitted by combustion engines using e-fuel, but the process of extracting it from the atmosphere and reusing it means net emissions are greatly reduced.

Construction on the major project is expected to start in mid to late 2024. Earlier this year, HIF Global indicated it was looking at establishing e-fuels facilities in Northern Queensland and Victoria.

They say that further processing can result in LPG, road transport fuels or aviation fuel. E-fuels are expected to be used where electrification is impractical or unfeasible, such as on ocean-crossing cargo vessels or commercial aircraft.

HIF Asia Pacific chief executive Ignacio Hernandez says the plant is expected to reduce carbon dioxide levels by 260,000 tonnes a year, the equivalent of 52,000 cars.

Porsche plans to use the e-fuel produced in HIF Global’s Chile plant in its motorsport ventures and sees a bright future for the technology in the motoring industry.

E-Fuels make an important contribution to climate protection and complement our electromobility in a meaningful way. By investing in industrial eFuel production, Porsche is further expanding its commitment to sustainable mobility. In total, our investment in the development and provision of this innovative technology amounts to more than USD 100 million.

 Barbara Frenkel, Member of the Executive Board for Procurement at Porsche AG

HIF Global CEO Cesar Norton says the company had large-scale plans for the future, aiming to produce more than eight billion litres a year of e-fuels in total, enough to decarbonise the emissions of eight million cars.

It is unclear whether the emissions reduction provided by e-fuels will be enough for them to be used in the EU, where emissions-producing cars will be banned from 2035.

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