How useful is fuel for our environment

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Here you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If your question is not answered here, you can contact us using the "Your questions" form. We endeavor to answer your request as quickly as possible.

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Products and Consumption

Less packaging waste

What packaging waste is produced in Germany and what is the BMU doing about it?

Soil protection and contaminated sites

Arguments against allegations about the agricultural package and other environmentally-related agricultural issues

The objectives pursued with the so-called "agricultural package" are important. It is right to achieve more for the protection of the environment, insect protection and biodiversity as a whole, but also in the agricultural landscape.

Climate protection

Climate protection program 2030

The aim of the program is to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius. Will we achieve our climate goals with this program? What does it all cost?

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Electromobility

Electric cars can reduce the negative environmental impact of car traffic - especially carbon dioxide emissions. There is great potential here for climate protection.

Climate protection

Need for a CO2-Pricing

Since January 1, 2021, CO2-Fossil fuel emissions for heat and transport a price to reduce their consumption. Companies have to buy emission rights in the form of certificates.

Products and Consumption

Reusable as a solution

The best way to conserve resources is to reuse.

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Electromobility

How can it be ensured that the grid does not collapse when everyone is charging their e-cars?

The energy industry ensures that electromobility is integrated into the grids and upgraded them when and where necessary. Often "intelligence instead of copper" is required. After all, electric vehicles can also help stabilize power grids in the future. By using intelligent charging technology to flexibly absorb excess energy - for example, when there is a lot of wind. In any case, grid-friendly charging enables the energy and transport sectors to grow closer together.

Our climate-damaging cars will only be driven elsewhere if we ban them from the streets here. Does it make sense if combustion engines then continue to drive in other countries?

A large proportion of the vehicles that were once on the road in industrialized countries do not reach the end of their life where they were originally registered. That is why it is particularly important that the major new vehicle markets around the world, such as Europe, set ambitious environmental standards for new vehicles. Every better vehicle that we put on the road through good standards will at some point force a worse vehicle out of the market - either through scrapping or because it is no longer worth operating a highly emitting "fuel eater" elsewhere.

What happens to all the cars we still drive today? Don't we have to operate them in a climate-friendly way instead of scrapping them?

Even today, climate-friendly fuels can be mixed with conventional fuels. In the future, fuels from combustion engines that contribute to climate protection and protect the environment are to be added to the existing fleet. Above all, these are advanced biofuels made from residual and waste materials for commercial vehicles and green electricity-based fuels for air traffic. Accordingly, with the implementation of the Renewable Energy Sources Directive (RED II), we are significantly increasing the proportion of advanced biofuels from, for example, straw and liquid manure in the greenhouse gas reduction rate. And we support biofuels from used cooking oils and animal waste products that are not recycled as a further option for climate protection in transport.

Electricity-based fuels based on green hydrogen will be essential in the future in order to make the transport sector climate-neutral. However, green electricity is a valuable commodity that we should use first where there are no more climate-friendly and more efficient alternatives than direct electricity use. This applies to air traffic, maritime traffic and in some cases also heavy goods traffic. Electricity-based fuels, like biofuels, are counted towards the obligation to meet the greenhouse gas reduction quota (GHG quota) and thus promoted in road traffic. Anyone who wants to use e-fuels can do so and also credit them. As a result, electricity-based fuels can also make a contribution to reducing greenhouse gases in the existing fleet in road traffic.

In addition, it primarily makes sense to give preference to climate-friendly options for new vehicles. Because unlike power plants, for example, cars don't stay in operation for decades. We can therefore easily achieve our climate targets if we convert the new vehicle fleet step by step.

How dangerous are electric cars, especially in the event of a fire?

From a thermal point of view, a burning electric car is no more dangerous than a burning vehicle with a conventional drive. Electric cars don't burn any more often than other vehicles. Lithium batteries and battery-operated vehicles are subject to the regulations of the dangerous goods law, which also makes corresponding requirements for the transport of defective batteries. The technical test associations and the professional fire brigades have been continuously assessing the questions that arise for many years and have adopted appropriate guidelines.

How does the BMU promote electromobility?

The federal government not only supports the acquisition of electric cars and charging infrastructure extensively, but also research and development in the field of electric mobility. In order to advance electromobility against the background of its entire range of topics and while covering a complete value chain, the BMWi, BMBF, BMVI and BMU departments each set up their own funding programs. As part of the "Renewable Mobile" funding program, the BMU is funding projects to raise the potential of electromobility in the areas of climate, environmental and resource protection. The BMU funding program focuses on field tests in selected vehicle segments and application areas as well as pilot tests on the traffic and environmental and climate impacts of an increased proportion of automated and autonomous electric vehicles. In addition, the market launch is supported with ecological standards and projects on resource availability and recycling are promoted.

In addition, since 2020 the BMU has been implementing the "Social & Mobil" fleet exchange program for social services, which was decided as part of the economic stimulus package, to convert fleets to electromobility in this area.

The BMU is also promoting the conversion of bus fleets to electromobility within the framework of the "Guideline for the Acquisition of Electric Buses in Public Transport".

Further information on the funding programs and current funding calls can be found on "Renewable mobile".

How do we get an adequate charging infrastructure? When will I be able to cover long distances in an e-car?

Most cars in Germany park on private property at night and can therefore usually be taken care of easily. For example, the federal government also provides subsidies for so-called wallboxes. The public charging infrastructure has been expanding for many years. There are more and more providers for this, from energy suppliers and municipal utilities to petrol station operators and automobile manufacturers. The federal government ensures uniform standards through the charging station ordinance. In addition, more and more charging stations are also being built at employers and in semi-public places such as supermarkets. If you want to cover a longer distance, you can fall back on a growing network of fast charging stations.

In the climate protection program 2030 and in the economic stimulus program, a significant expansion of the funding for the charging infrastructure has been decided. A total of 3.46 billion euros will be available up to 2023 for funding alternative refueling infrastructure as well as publicly accessible and, for the first time, private charging infrastructure. Fast charging is also included.

How should all the electricity for electromobility be stored? Isn't it easier to store e-fuels and hydrogen?

As of today, there are overcapacities of controllable systems for electricity production in Germany and Europe. These will decrease with the progressive reduction in electricity production from nuclear and coal-fired power plants. In return, however, the expansion of renewable energies is being consistently promoted not only in Germany, but also throughout Europe and worldwide. For security of supply in all member states of Europe it is important that the European electricity market continues to grow together and that the "capacity effect" of fluctuating renewables such as wind and sun is significantly increased through the improved exchange of electrical energy. Highly flexible, quickly controllable gas-fired power plants are available for peak coverage and possibly times when electricity is generated from renewables. In addition, it is important to increase flexibility on the side of electricity demand, flexible loads such as stationary storage, heat pumps or - where appropriate - storage in interaction with the electromobility sector - are already and in the future increasingly used to harmonize electricity generation and demand . But hydrogen, made from renewables, will also play an important role in the future energy system. However, hydrogen will remain a particularly valuable energy carrier. Therefore, it should only be used where the use of cheaper and more efficient energy sources is not possible.

Is the federal government preventing the development of environmentally friendly fuels because it relies primarily on e-mobility?

For the climate protection goals in traffic we need all available environmentally friendly fuel options. But we don't just blindly want more alternative fuels in the tank. The BMU wants to specifically promote alternative fuels that contribute to climate protection and protect the environment. Above all, these are advanced biofuels made from residual and waste materials for commercial vehicles and green electricity-based fuels for air traffic. Accordingly, with the implementation of the Renewable Energy Sources Directive (RED II), we are significantly increasing the proportion of advanced biofuels from, for example, straw and liquid manure in the greenhouse gas reduction rate. And we support biofuels from used cooking oils and animal waste products that are not recycled as a further option for climate protection in transport.

Electricity-based fuels based on green hydrogen will be essential in the future in order to make the transport sector climate-neutral. However, renewable electricity is a valuable commodity that we should use first where there are no more climate-friendly and more efficient alternatives than the direct use of electricity. This applies to air traffic, maritime traffic and in some cases also heavy goods traffic. Electricity-based fuels, like biofuels, are counted towards the obligation to meet the greenhouse gas reduction quota (GHG quota) and thus promoted in road traffic. Anyone who wants to use e-fuels can do so and also credit them. As a result, electricity-based fuels can also make a contribution to reducing greenhouse gases in the existing fleet in road traffic.

Should all traffic be electrified in the future?

Electromobility is not a panacea for the traffic turnaround. Last but not least, a liveable city needs more public transport, more bicycle traffic and short distances. In all likelihood, however, a significant part of the transport performance will continue to be provided by motorized means of transport in the future. That is why road traffic must also become more climate and environmentally friendly. Electric drives can make an important contribution to this.

But even in the long term, it will not be possible to fully electrify parts of transport (e.g. air transport and parts of maritime transport). In all probability, there are technical or economic hurdles that are too high. For this reason, alternative fuels must also make an important contribution to reducing greenhouse emissions in traffic in the coming years.

More electric cars need more batteries, more raw materials have to be extracted for more batteries. Is electromobility aggravating the world's environmental problems?

The extraction of raw materials is fundamentally associated with interventions in nature. However, electric mobility in particular will also reduce our primary raw material requirements because fossil fuels, especially crude oil, will be saved. Oil production has often been very problematic ecologically and socially for decades - from tar sands to fracking, the social and ecological consequences of oil production and questionable regimes.

More than half of the world's lithium demand is obtained in Australia. Another producer with a growing share is Portugal. Contrary to what is often shown, the proportion of countries in the so-called "lithium triangle" is small and continues to decline. In the case of lithium mining in South America, the focus is particularly on water consumption. It is hardly known that the water required for the amount of lithium in a drive battery is only slightly higher for the life of a vehicle than for the production of a good one kilogram of beef.

With alternative drives, we have the opportunity to do many things better and to replace an existing system that is questionable in many areas. In doing so, we have to ensure that with new approaches such as e-mobility, we think about what will happen before and after. The Federal Government advocates this in a variety of ways.

There is often a triple strategy for critical raw materials:

  • Efficiency, i.e. less use of raw materials for the same performance,
  • Replacement, i.e. a different one or the complete abandonment of a certain raw material, and
  • Recycling.

All three strategies are pursued by companies and supported by the federal government. It has also been possible to increase the energy density of batteries many times over, so that the greater ranges that are common today can usually even get by without a large "raw material backpack".

In order to broaden these approaches, a new legal framework for batteries will also be created as part of the EU's circular economy action plan. This should not only deal with aspects of the circular economy, but also consider the entire life cycle of the batteries. This also includes the introduction of a CO2-Footprint and other sustainability criteria for batteries, such as sustainable procurement of raw materials and environmentally friendly production of batteries. The BMU emphatically supports the action plan.

In addition, companies increasingly have to join initiatives for "sustainable mining". There are relevant due diligence obligations, and we must finally make them more binding - regardless of whether the raw material ends up in the electric car, laptop or smartphone afterwards.

Is electromobility also an option for truck traffic?

Less than ten percent of commercial vehicles in Germany are heavy trucks weighing 40 tons. But this fleet brings together around 25 percent of all vehicle kilometers and around 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from road freight transport. Accordingly, a lot can be done for the climate if we reduce the emissions of a very manageable number of vehicles.

For the climate protection goals in traffic we need all available environmentally friendly fuel options. Electricity-based fuels based on green hydrogen will be essential in the future in order to make the transport sector completely climate-neutral. However, these are not a sensible option for all vehicles in road traffic. Renewable electricity is a valuable commodity that we should use as directly as possible. Compared to electricity-based fuels, electric drives are also the more efficient variant for commercial vehicles.

There are now more and more "trucks with batteries". The Federal Environment Ministry has also been promoting the further development of overhead contact line technology for the electrification of heavy goods traffic for many years. The technology is interesting because electric drives are very efficient, but it is still unclear whether a battery is sufficient to store energy in heavy trucks. The O-truck "refuels" with electricity on short stretches without stopping and can then continue to drive electrically despite the smaller battery, for example for delivery in the city. So the technology is actually a kind of convenient fast charging system. It could also be combined with other charging and refueling options, such as battery-only trucks or a hydrogen fuel cell.

Are electric cars more climate-friendly than cars with a combustion engine?

An electric car does not cause any CO2 or other greenhouse gas emissions on the road. But electric vehicles are only as clean as the electricity they use. The share of renewable energies in the electricity mix in Germany is growing steadily. In 2020 it was around 50 percent. In a holistic balance sheet and when comparing different types of cars, electric cars also have an advantage. Such a comparison is useful in order to include vehicle manufacture and disposal (including the drive battery) and the provision of electricity - i.e. the emissions from power plants - and other sources of emissions. In the case of cars with internal combustion engines, the fuel supply from the borehole to the gas station is also considered.

In contrast to electricity, petrol and diesel could be even more harmful to the environment and the climate in the future, because oil deposits that are increasingly difficult to access are being tapped and extracted by fracking or from tar sands.

What significance does electromobility have for the environment and traffic?

Traffic currently contributes around 20 percent to greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. Cars account for around 60 percent of this. There is great potential here for climate protection, even if electric cars use today's “electricity mix”. Electric cars can reduce the negative environmental impact of car traffic - especially carbon dioxide emissions. With green electricity, the advantage is greater, and the prospects are good: Because the share of renewable energies in the electricity mix is ​​currently around 50 percent and continues to grow. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants from road traffic are also problematic, especially fine dust and nitrogen oxides. Electric cars have no exhaust fumes such as nitrogen oxides, and particle emissions are only generated by being whirled up and abrasion (as in all vehicles), but not additionally by the combustion engine. Electric cars therefore help make our cities more livable.

If you compare electric cars with other forms of drive, it becomes clear that electric mobility is the most efficient and cost-effective, climate-friendly option in traffic. For example, driving a car with a combustion engine with synthetic fuel would require more than five times as much electricity as driving an electric car that is directly charged with electricity from renewable energies and converts it into motion. Green electricity is still a scarce commodity and other areas, such as industry, also need to be supplied. The rapid further expansion of renewable energies is therefore one of our core concerns. We have to choose the most efficient option for climate protection for each sector.

The purchase of electric cars pays off in the long term: electric cars have lower operating costs than combustion engines, and with the CO2-Conventional fuels are becoming increasingly expensive in line with their contribution to climate change.