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AMF - Implementing Agreement on Advanced Motor Fuels

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Advanced Motor Fuels in Switzerland


Drivers and Policies

In May 2017, the Swiss voters approved a fundamentally revised new Energy Act. It is the first part of a long-term energy policy called “Energy Strategy 2050” [1]. The core measure is to withdraw step by step from the use of nuclear energy without increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This should be achieved by increased energy savings (energy efficiency); the expansion of hydropower and new renewable energy sources; and, if necessary, fossil-fuel-based electricity production (cogeneration facilities, gas-fired combined-cycle power plants), and imports. Important measures related to motor fuels include (1) reducing CO2 emissions; (2) increasing energy efficiency; (3) increasing the use of renewable energy sources, including biomass; and (4) strengthening energy research.

CO2 Emission Regulations for Cars

Since 2012, Swiss importers are required to reduce the level of CO2 emissions from new passenger cars to an average of 130 grams (g) of CO2 per kilometer (km). Importers who do not meet that target must pay a penalty. The average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars in 2016 totaled 134 g CO2/km. The penalty amounted to $2.4 million US [2]. In alignment with the European Union (EU) Commission, the Federal Council aims to reduce average CO2 emissions from passenger cars by 2020 to 95 g CO2/km and from light commercial vehicles (vans up to 3.5 metric tons [t]) to 147 g CO2/km [1].

CO2 Emissions Compensation: Motor Fuels

All importers of fossil motor fuels are required to use domestic measures to compensate for 10% of CO2 emissions generated by the entire transportation sector by 2020 [3]. The compensation rate started in 2014 at 2% and will be raised to 10% in 2020. Importers of fossil motor fuels may carry out their own projects or acquire certificates. The Swiss Petroleum Association established the Foundation for Climate Protection and Carbon Offset (KliK). It launches and subsidizes projects to reduce CO2 emissions in fields such as transportation, industry, buildings, and agriculture. Another measure to reduce CO2 emissions is to blend fossil fuels with biofuels. Since 2014, a substantial increase of biofuels can be observed.

Mineral Oil Tax Reduction for Natural Gas and Biofuels

To support the target for CO2 emissions, a reduction or even an exemption for environmentally friendly motor fuels was enacted in 2008. The tax for natural gas used as a motor fuel was reduced to $0.22 US/kg [4]. Biofuels that satisfy minimum environmental and social standards are completely or partially exempt from the mineral oil tax. As a result, the tax reduction for biofuels is up to $0.72 US per liter (L), in comparison with fossil fuels. The mineral oil tax reduction is only valid until 2020.


Advanced Motor Fuels Statistics

Final total energy consumption in Switzerland in 2016[1] amounted to 854,300 terajoules (TJ), of which 35% was transport fuels (Figure 1) [5]. Compared to 2015, fuel consumption for vehicles decreased by 1%. In the same period, the total amount of engine-driven vehicles increased by 1.6%, in the sum of 5,980,512. Fuel consumption by vehicle dropped by 0.7%. Some changes in specific applications were made in 2016: diesel, +1.1%; gasoline, −3.1%; and aviation fuels, +4.7%. All fossil fuels were imported.

Fig. 1    Shares of Energy Sources in Energy Consumption for the Transportation Sector in Switzerland in 2016 [1]

Electricity is used for railroad transportation, and a negligible amount is used for electric cars. Despite an impressive annual increase of electric vehicles (2014, + 65 %; 2015, + 70%; and 2016, +42%), the total amount is still very small (10,724 passenger cars) [6]. In 2000, the share of diesel of the total amount of fuels (without aviation) amounted to 26%. With a share of 52% in 2016, the consumption of diesel was higher than the use of gasoline (46%) and biofuels (1.2%).

In Switzerland, firms marketing motor fuels are not under any obligation for blending. This could explain the rather low share of biofuels in the total amount of motor fuels in the past. Since 2014, fuel importers are required to compensate CO2 emissions by domestic measures. The measure to blend fuel with biofuels is one solution, and a substantial increase of biodiesel (72.509 million L) and bioethanol (38.193 million L) can be observed in 2016 (Figure 2). Pure vegetable oil (PVO) fuel dropped almost to zero (0.043 million L), and upgraded biogas remained at a low level of 3.380 million kg. In 2016, for the first time hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) was used (11.303 million L). Even if the total amount of biofuel consumption increased by 60% compared to the year before, it is still a very small share (1.2%) of the total amount of motor fuels used in Switzerland [7].

Fig. 2    Development of the Use of Biofuels as Motor Fuels in Switzerland,

Only 8.143 million L of biodiesel was produced in Switzerland. The other 64.366 million L was imported (Germany 82%, France 13%, the rest from four other countries). All bioethanol is imported (Holland 63%, Norway 17%, Italy 15%, the rest from two other countries).

The total amount of biogas produced and used in Switzerland in 2016 amounted to 105,650 t. Only 21,798 t have been upgraded and fed into the natural gas grid. From this, only a small amount (2,948 t) has been sold as biogas for cars, and the rest for heating [8]. All biogas used as motor fuel in cars is upgraded biogas fed into the natural gas grid. Therefore, cars need no special requirements for biogas as a fuel. Figure 3 shows the development of the use of biogas and natural gas as motor fuels in cars. The demand for biogas is stable, but the demand for natural gas is slightly decreasing. As shown in Figure 3, the total amount of upgraded biogas fed into the natural gas grid has increased threefold in the last 5 years. This is caused by increased demand for biogas for residential heating but not for automotive applications.

Fig. 3    Development of the Use of Natural Gas and Biogas as Motor Fuel for Cars and Total Upgraded Biogas Fed into the Natural Gas Grid (green line)


Research and Demonstration Focus

In the research, development, and demonstration funding framework of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, three programs — bioenergy, combustion, and mobility — are supporting AMF research activities. To coordinate research, to improve collaboration, and increase capacity building, in 2013, eight Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCERs) were established. One of them is dedicated to mobility [9] and another to bioenergy [10], including liquid and gaseous biofuels.

Adapted fuels for Dual-fuel- and Diesel-combustion

A novel optically accessible test facility is used to examine combustion processes at engine-relevant flow, temperature and pressure conditions. Of particular interest are investigations of lean gas/air-premixed dual-fuel combustion with adapted pilot fuels as well as optimization of diesel-combustion with respect to emissions and particulate matter by tailored alternative liquid fuels.

Effects of Diesel-butanol blend fuels on emissions and combustion in Diesel-engines

With different butanol blends (BuXX), basic combustion research will be performed on two diesel-engine dynamometer with accesses for engine parameterization and pressure indication. In the second part of the project, two vehicles will be investigated on a chassis dynamo-meter, with special consideration of non-legislated emission components.

Investigation of ignition/early flame propagation and flame-wall interactions in gas engines

In-depth understanding of combustion in gas engines through Direct Numerical Simulation and its experimental validation based on evaluation of appropriate models for industrial applications. There are three major issues of interest: early flame propagation within the prechamber, flame stability at the entrance in the main combustion chamber, and influence of a wall on the turbulent flame.



The main drivers in Switzerland to increase the use of biofuels will remain tax exemptions and the Government’s requirement that the petrol industry compensate 10% of CO2 emissions via domestic measures. The target to reduce average CO2 emissions from passenger cars by 2020 from 130 to 95 g CO2/km will increase sales of hybrid and electric vehicles. Swiss gas industry aims to achieve a share of 30% of renewable gas for heating purposes in the natural gas grid by 2030. To achieve this target, different sources of renewable gas are needed. A promising development is a showcase project with power to gas technology and methanization of hydrogen with CO2-rich biogas from a wastewater treatment plant. It was successfully tested and increases the bio-methane yield by 60% [11]. For market entry, further developments are needed.


Additional Information Sources

[1]   Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), “Energy Strategy 2050.”

[2]   SFOE, “CO2-Emissionen von Neuwagen …im Jahr 2016,” 2017.

[3]   FOEN, 2012, “CO2 emission compensation: motor fuels.”

[4]   Mineralölsteuergesetz (MinöStG), Stand: Jan. 1, 2012.

[5]   SFOE, 2017, “Gesamtenergiestatistik 2016.”

[6]   Swiss Federal Statistical Office (BFS), 2017, “Mobility and Traffic.”

[7]   Swiss Custom Administration, 2017, “Mineralölstatistik.”

[8]   SFOE, 2016, “Schweizerische Statistik erneuerbarer Energien 2016.”

[9]   www.sccer-mobility.ch.

[10]  www.sccer-biosweet.ch.

[11]  Erneuerbare Energien, 2017. Alles nutzen was im Klärgas steckt.


[1]    At the time this report was prepared, only data from 2015 were available.