1.2. Transport sector

Current situation

Emissions from the transport sector represented 24% of EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2009, with road transport by far the largest contributor. In European urban areas, public transport is responsible for around 10% of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. Across Europe, 40 to 50% of public transport is already powered by electricity. Buses however still account for 50 to 60% of the total public transport provision in Europe and 95% of buses run on fossil fuels.

Transport energy mix

Primary energy production in the EU-27 in 2010 was spread across a range of different energy sources, the Solid fuels Nuclear energy Renewable energy Crude oil Natural gas Other 19,6% 18,8% 11,7% 28,5% 20,1% 1,3% 20% 2% 2% 8% THE BOOK most important of which was nuclear energy (28.5% of the total)4 . Around one fifth of the EU-27’s total production of primary energy was accounted for by renewable energy sources (20.1%). This was followed by solid fuels (19.6 %, largely coal) and natural gas (18.8%). Crude oil (11.7%) made up the remainder of the total. Therefore, in 2010 the production of primary energy from renewable energy sources in the EU-27 surpassed for the first time that from natural gas and solid fuels, having surpassed crude oil production in 2006.

Fig. 4 – Production of primary energy, EU-27, 2010 (Eurostat)

The overall GHG emissions for the public transport sector are very dependent on the type of fuels available for vehicles and the energy mix on offer for the electrified network. As a consequence, carbon footprints across transport operators will vary depending on the fuels and energy mix available and the resulting carbon intensity of electricity of each country and/or provider.

These footprints will also vary according to company GHG reporting rules in place in each country. Some companies are able to report electricity emissions in line with data provided by their electricity provider (and therefore including the benefits of green energy purchased). Others are required to use the average carbon intensity for their national energy production. There seems to be a lack of harmonisation at the European level for GHG reporting.

The differences in electricity mixes and resulting carbon intensity can result in different priorities for operators when trying to reduce GHG emissions. For example, in France, the high proportion of nuclear and hydropower results in relatively low-carbon electricity. This means that initiatives aimed at further reducing energy consumption and energy carbon intensity do not deliver as many environmental benefits as in the Netherlands, Germany or the UK, although they do still offer the same financial benefits. In Germany, the decision was taken in 2011 to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Nuclear power provided almost 18% of Germany’s electricity in 2011 and the change might result in different carbon intensities for German electricity, depending on the sources to be used to replace nuclear power.

Table 3 - Energy mix for the generation of electricity in the T2K partners countries in 2011, International Energy Agency
Energy source Belgium France Germany Netherlands UK
Coal 5.96% 3.08% 44.67% 21.90% 29.80%
Oil 0.32% 0.61% 1.09% 1.29% 1.00%
Gas 28.19% 4.76% 13.74% 60.58% 39.92%
Biofuels 4.30% 0.52% 5.40% 4.45% 3.05%
Waste 2.20% 0.79% 1.83% 3.34% 0.85%
Nuclear 53.45% 78.72% 17.74% 3.67% 18.75%
Other sources 0.15% 0.00% 0.46% 0.13% 0.00%
Hydro 1.58% 8.97% 3.86% 0.05% 2.34%
Geothermal 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Solar 1.30% 0.36% 3.18% 0.09% 0.07%
Wind 2.56% 2.18% 8.03% 4.51% 4.21%
Share of renewable 5.43% 11.52% 15.07% 4.65% 6.62%
Carbon intensity (kg CO2 /kWh) 0.225 0.071 0.672 0.413 0.508

4 The significance of nuclear fuel was particularly high in Belgium, France and Slovakia – where it accounted for more than half of the national production of primary energy