On Wednesday, 26 May 2021, the online conference “THE FUTURE OF ALTERNATIVE FUELS – Developments, Policy, Public Passenger Transport, Logistics” was held, organized by GIZ ACS and BSC, d.o.o., Kranj. Milena Černilogar Radež from the Ministry of Infrastructure of the Republic of Slovenia, Nikolaj Grgurevič from the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning of the Republic of Slovenia, Silvester Vučak from DPD d.o.o., Mateja Kukovec from ZUM d.o.o. and Iztok Štrukelj from the company Arriva d.o.o presented their views on the current state and future use of alternative fuels.

The event began with the presentation of the Interreg projects e-MOPOLI and e-SMART.

While the e-SMART project is dedicated to designing and testing instruments for an integrated planning of e-mobility infrastructure for local public transport and last mile freight logistics, the e-MOPOLI project aims to contribute to an efficient diffusion of e-mobility and alternative fuels mobility. A cooperation of RDA Gorenjska and BSC Kranj with the Ministry of Infrastructure of the Republic of Slovenia in this transnational e-MOPOLI project, co-financed by ERDF funds, Interreg Europe program contributed to the preparation of proposals for measures to promote mobility to alternative fuels for the Operational Program for European Cohesion Policy for the period 2021-2027. Unlike the existing measure to promote electric mobility in the current Operational Program, the proposed incentives and investments are covered by 8 proposed measures, which include incentives for the introduction of vehicles on alternative fuels, infrastructure, simplification of administrative procedures, promotion of research and development in economy. The Ministry formally undertook to consider proposals for inclusion in the Operational Program in February 2021. The round table on “The Future of Alternative Fuels” presented the policies already envisaged for placement in the OP EKP 2021-2027 and related to promoting mobility to alternative fuel sources.

Milena Černilogar Radež, Head of the Sustainable Mobility and Transport Policy Sector at the Ministry of Infrastructure of the Republic of Slovenia, presented the progress in preparing the Operational Program for the Implementation of European Cohesion Policy 2021-2027, in particular what measures can be expected for alternative fuels. The Operational plan has already been coordinated between departments and has been forwarded to the Managing Authority, which is in charge of coordinating projects with European funds. Measures in the field of alternative fuels, included in the forthcoming operational plan, are a tender to promote the establishment of infrastructure for alternative fuels in transport, where a grant of EUR 5.75 million is provided for construction of 145 filling stations (e-charging stations, CNG and LNG fuel stations), incentives for the production of advanced biofuels , incentives for alternative fuel infrastructure and incentives for the use of alternative fuels in cities (public transport vehicles and public refuelling infrastructure).
 
Nikolaj Grgurevič, Head of the Sector for Environment and Climate Change at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning of the Republic of Slovenia, presented the upcoming MESP measures in the field of green mobility, such as co-financing the purchase of new vehicles for public urban and long-distance passenger transport, new electric or hydrogen-powered road vehicles such as vans, minibuses and road tourist trains. Beneficiaries of the non-refundable financial incentive for the purchase of new vehicles will be municipalities that have adopted the municipal budget with the item of purchase of the vehicles in question or adopted a plan of development programs with financial construction for the investment, which is subject to co-financing. The measure will be implemented by the ECO Fund on the basis of a contract with the MESP and a public call.

The program also plans for the measure "Encouraging the construction of infrastructure for alternative fuels and the purchase of vehicles running on alternative fuels", which is expected to provide EUR 11.08 million for investments. This allocation of funds is intended to encourage the construction of infrastructure for alternative fuels and the purchase of alternative propulsion vehicles and vessels. The purchase of vehicles, vessels and other means of transport that use electricity, hydrogen and other alternative fuels, as well as the construction of filling and other infrastructure necessary for the operation of these road vehicles, vessels and other means of transport will also be co-financed.
 
Representatives of the private sector also provided their views on alternative fuel use in practice.

The representative of the DPD delivery company, Silvester Vučak, pointed out that the company is actively involved in the growing use of alternative propulsion vehicles, and also wants to increase the use of delivery bicycles and reduce the number of vehicles in city centres by using collection points. They plan to set up a delivery depot, which will enable carbon-free delivery in the centre of Ljubljana.

ZUM d.o.o. is also involved in the field of green last mile logistics, within the Life Care4Climate project, the purpose of which is to review solutions for horizontal introduction of green logistics principles in various policies at the national and local level, implementation of two pilot projects for urban logistics management in Nova Gorizia and Piran. Mateja Kukovec emphasized that the efficient ecological optimization of urban logistics requires the withdrawal of the majority of freight traffic from roads, the development of multimodal hubs, efficient management of urban logistics and the introduction of new technologies, innovations and alternative fuels.

Views of public transport providers on alternative fuels were presented by Iztok Štrukelj from the Arriva d.o.o, which has been planning to decarbonise its fleet of vehicles since 2015. He highlighted several major challenges they face in the field of alternative propulsion. The capabilities of the network and the entire infrastructure are a very important challenge, especially when they need a connection power of more than 50 kWh. However, upgrading it is usually associated with lengthy administrative procedures. Upgrades are often not feasible within a reasonable timeframe. Problems also arise in the area of financing, as despite long-term savings from the use of electric vehicles, these represent a very large initial investment compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. For this reason, it is essential that the state and the EU provide facilities for the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles.

Throughout the event and all the presentations, the prevailing idea was that alternative fuels are a necessary part of an integrated environmental strategy, as emissions from conventional propulsion vehicles represent a significant part of greenhouse gas emissions. All speakers emphasized that we need to become more ambitious in purchasing vehicles running on alternative fuels, setting up refuelling infrastructure and infrastructure for sourcing alternative fuels. We are still facing a great need to co-finance the purchase of means of transport and refuelling infrastructure on alternative fuels by both national and European funds, as this is the only way to ensure comprehensive changes in the field of environmental protection by transport. Successful confrontation with this issue requires the participation of the entire society, from the state, through the economy, as well as from each individual who decides on a daily basis between the various means of mobility.

Picture: IADE-Michoko on Pixabay