Peter Staal, director of KNAC: “There is certainly a future for our classics in the energy transition”

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Peter Steel 007In order to achieve the climate objectives, substantial investments are made in the development of sustainable energy. But the envisaged energy transition is more complex than expected. The electrification of our vehicle fleet is going quite slowly, the development of hydrogen as a fuel is still in its infancy and the production of synthetic fuels is still far too expensive. Peter Staal, director of the KNAC, therefore sees a sufficient future for classic and modern petrol and diesel cars.”

Fossil-free is a utopia

“There is no question that we need to drive cleaner and we wholeheartedly applaud any initiative at the KNAC”, says Peter Staal. “But let's not count ourselves rich. Take the electric car. The electrification of our fleet is going very slowly. Of the 9 million vehicles on the road, only about 320.000 are currently electric, including plug-in cars. But not only cars must be electric, houses must also be made more sustainable by gas and industries. Our energy infrastructure is simply not ready for this rapidly increasing demand. All that energy has to be produced somewhere and also made accessible in many more places. At the moment, 10% is generated sustainably. 90% not! It is utopian to think that we will be completely fossil free by 2050.”

Best boy in class

“In the Netherlands, we like to lead the way when it comes to making our energy more sustainable. But if you look abroad, where we regularly sit down for consultations with international clubs and interest groups, it turns out that they have other priorities there. In Asia, Africa and South America, for example, they say plainly that they do not have the infrastructure for the switch to electric. They see that as a solution for rich countries. They prefer to aim at making their population more mobile. And they care less that cars then run on polluting fossil fuels. First the material, then the environment. They do not know the laws and regulations that apply in Europe. It is good that our diesels are becoming cleaner and more efficient, but a little further across the border they are not that far yet. The demand for and the production of fossils will therefore remain for a while.”

Aircraft industry as an innovator

During a webinar organized by the KNAC, Dr. ir. Carlo van de Weijer, director of 'Smart Mobility' at Eindhoven University of Technology, his vision on the future of our (car) mobility. Van de Weijer sees little value in car sharing, autonomously driving cars, nor in building more rails or hydrogen as fuel for passenger cars. He does see opportunities for synthetic fuel, a development that the aircraft industry is currently considering. In time, this innovation could also be made suitable for combustion engines in cars. Peter Staal does not see that happening for the time being. “Take oil giant Shell. It is currently investing 2 billion euros in the development of hydrogen and only 2 million in the development of synthetic fuels. That says enough for me.”

Looking for alternatives together

“Cities in the Netherlands are becoming busier and fuller, so it is logical that the car will be banned there more and more. But in the countryside there are few alternatives to the car to get around. We are already seeing that more and more people are getting into the car, with the hobby car also gaining in popularity. And it can also go well together, as long as the transport mix is ​​good. The switch to electric driving will take more time, hydrogen production is still too inefficient and synthetic fuels are still far too expensive. Until then, we can continue to cherish and drive our driving heritage with peace of mind. While at the same time we are working together on as many smart, sustainable and future-proof alternatives to fossil fuels as possible.”

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  1. EVERYTHING starts or ends with you. Everyone can make a (small) contribution. But the big ball lies in the regulations. Eg the leasemij., and its constructions. A fuel pass? Addition? Oh, then we do everything with the car; to the bakery around the corner, take children to school and football field, let the engine idle for 1/2 hour with a heater or ac on?! Instead of walking, cycling, which is also much healthier than sitting still and letting our kg weight increase! Anyway, away with that lease car, banks, oil mine, and the government, will you get that too? Everything revolves around money, so even in 2070 or 2080.

  2. In the energy transition, a lot of misconceptions are made in order to achieve more than is really necessary, whether or not prompted by hyperactive lobbyists. The houses don't have to get off the gas at all, we just have to gradually get rid of NATURAL gas. There is potentially more than enough sustainable methane available in the Netherlands (which now flies freely into the atmosphere, resulting in a bigger greenhouse problem) to replace fossil methane (60-70% of natural gas). But as long as we repeat the mantra “off the gas” (I would have expected better from someone at the KNAC), we will bring about a bigger problem on ourselves than what is needed to achieve the target.
    And I'm not too pessimistic about synthetic fuels. Of course there is a (permanent) price tag attached to this, but since the current fuel prices are artificially much too high (last year we refueled in Kosovo for an amount below the Euro de litre), Kok's penny can still be paid in the first instance. from and after the environmental impact. And of course scaling up. The first electric cars that got a bit far were not cheap either, nowadays you can still get quite far with a reasonable electric B or C-segmenter. Of course there has to be development and then this should not be frustrated by (also) hyperaction lobbyists. We are going to need those synthetic fuels anyway, I can't imagine that all planes, fighter jets, tanks and the like will be made electrically. Once the technology has been mastered, the automotive and motorcycle sector can also benefit from it. F1 is also switching to synthetic fuels, and then things can go fast.

  3. Still, if you look back at how fast it has gone from the steam era to the combustion engine era, nothing can be ruled out……….Time will tell.

  4. Going to live in Latin America, Africa or Asia by 2050, these continents will not participate in the elimination of fuel engines, although the insights can change a lot in 30 years (also in Europe). These continents may have become much more livable than Europe by then

  5. The fuel prices in this one is really an excise issue
    Of the 2 euros, 1.25 is taxes in various forms.
    We, (NL) are going to refuel in D.
    D is going to refuel in Poland for 1.22 . . . . .

  6. It's great that Peter sees possibilities, what else should he say.
    I fear that the innovation in the form of synthetic fuels will come too late and I bet it will not be a cheap solution.
    I don't mean to be pessimistic, but there are dark clouds over combustion engine cars, including our beloved classics.
    Everything depends on what it will cost per kilometer driven. At the moment you pay more than € 2 at the pump for the E5. Just for the pre-millennials among us, that is more than 4,40 Gulden. Where are the boundaries of an affordable hobby for us? If I don't want to do certain tours because the fuel costs are too high, I'd rather stop. I'm not going to store my classic in the garage as a museum piece.

    • If you can no longer afford the trip to an event, or a ride becomes too expensive, the hobby of events and rides has indeed happened. That is the same if your car maintenance or rust oration becomes too expensive, then unfortunately you have to stop.
      Banning cars on public roads (such as cities) and stigmatizing cars that simply have a valid approval, "phasing out" the fuel (E-xx) is a different story.
      I am pleased with this vision of the KNAC. We don't need it from the ANWB.

      • What I am also afraid of, that in a few years, environmental wappies will try to prevent me from driving my Saab 9000 '95, with a bang with a baseball bat on the hood!

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