Decision-making on the optimum transition pathway to an energy economy that meets agreed carbon reduction goals in the European Union (EU) by 2050 is challenging, because of the size of the infrastructural legacy, technological uncertainties, affordability and assumptions on future energy demand. This task is even more complicated in transportation because of additional issues, such as minimum travel range at acceptable impact on payload and ensuring hazzle-free long-distance driving in case of regionally varying fuel economies. Biofuels were the first viable option for a large-scale partly renewable fuel economy. E10 and B7 fuels have been successfully and remarkably smoothly introduced, owing to the fact that these are liquid and can be used in conventional combustion engines with little impact on full-tank travel range. In contrast, the decision-making process on biofuels in the EU has been particularly turbulent, with an initially favourable assessment changing into controversial. Here the compatibility between the fuel economies of member states and avoidance of disruptive social effects are considered as essential pre-requisite of a viable transition pathway. Rebalancing three different aspects of the social dimension of sustainability is used to demonstrate that a succession of infrastructures based on liquid fuels, with biofuels as an interlock towards an economy that includes methanol-based eFuel, has the potential to bring continuity, reduce dependence on anticipated technological advances and improve cost management. Awareness of this underexposed prospect of biofuel may positively affect the assessment on its role in a low-carbon fuel economy, potentially influencing the current decision-making process on biofuels.
- EU decision-making
- EU shared competence
- Intra-European mobility
- Methanol-based fuel economy
- Non-disruptive infrastructural change