Synthetic fuels are a “Plan B” solution for sustainability

  • F1 News

In the round-up: Formula E chairman Alejandro Agag believes the synthetic fuels being introduced in some motorsport series including Formula 1 are only a “plan B” solution for sustainability

In brief

Synthetic fuel is “plan B” for sustainable charging in Formula E

Agag says he prefers alternative sustainable fuel sources to the synthetic fuels being developed for F1. Formula E charges its electric cars using generators which were previously run on algae glucose (provided by former partner Aquafuel) and latterly vegetable oil. However Agag sees a future for charging via sustainably-generated hydrogen rather than the synthetic fuels F1 plans to introduce in 2026.

“If you have a lot of electric cars on the roads but we are producing the electricity with coal or with oil, you’re only fixing half of the problem, you’re fixing the downstream but you’re not fixing the upstream,” explained Agag during a press conference ahead of Maserati’s announcement to join Formula E. “And this is a problem that needs to be fixed on both sides, on the upstream and downstream. If you look at specifically Formula E, we have had in the past – and it’s a very fair point – we were producing the electricity from generators, which then we are not providing a full solution, we’re only providing half of the solution.

“Of course, we have now taken steps to change that and we are looking into different options,” Agag continued. “Obviously, one option that is very much in fashion today is what they call synthetic fuel. Synthetic fuel is more a plan B than plan A. Plan A is going purely renewable energy and synthetic fuels are kind of a midway solution that can be better, obviously, than diesel or than gasoline, but is not the ideal solution.”

Agag said that for him, hydrogen was a “very interesting” alternative. “This is the solution that we’re using in the sister championship of Formula E, Extreme E, in which we produce the hydrogen from solar energy and we use that hydrogen in a fuel cell that then helps to power the race cars. So Formula E is working on all these solutions to improve the charging of the cars and to make the whole circle complete.”

Quotes: Hazel Southwell

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