Synthetic Fuel Study – Northern Ireland

Case Study

The Challenge

Northern Ireland has substantial opportunities to develop a non-fossil, synthetic and/or e-fuels industry which could complement existing biofuels production for regional use and export.

Cenex were commissioned by Queens University Belfast to assess the opportunities for Agri-fuel waste feedstocks to support the transport sector, as part of a larger study they completed for the Department for the Economy into the opportunities for synthetic fuels from waste and the re-use of carbon.

The challenge was to understand fuel and vehicle technology pathways for the different transport sectors (road, rail, agriculture, marine and aviation), the size of those markets, review supporting legislation, and assess how future economics and demand would work.

The Development

Cenex reviewed fuel and vehicle technology roadmaps in the on-road, off-road, aviation, rail and marine sectors to understand potential opportunities for Agri-fuel waste.

The NI fuel demand was then estimated by modelling vehicle sectors from low data visibility and adjusted UK industry fuel supply data.

The Result

  • The current potential total market for waste Agri-fuels in the NI transport sector is estimated at 15,500 GWh with a market value of around £1bln. Key transport market sectors are Aviation (46%), Road Transport (25%) and Maritime (10%).
  • In the period to 2035 there is likely to be good demand for drop in diesel replacement fuels across Agriculture, Mining, Maritime and Construction as these sectors look to decarbonise but await maturity of 2050 net zero fuel options. Roadmaps indicate renewable and e-diesel fuels may play a strong role in the future fuel mix.
  • In the period of 2035 to 2050, there is a strong demand from Maritime and the Aviation sector where long distance transportation requires the energy density from liquid fuels. This is likely to create growing demand for fuels derived from Agri-fuel waste, such as renewable diesel, e-diesel, ammonia, methanol and SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel).
  • No strong policy legislation is yet in place for the decarbonisation of Marine, Agriculture, Mining and Construction Sectors. This will most likely reinforce the findings of the study.