Infrastructure

Transforming transport requires the integration of various policy perspectives. Only then will it be possible to build the necessary infrastructure for achieving carbon neutrality in the transport sector.

Investment in infrastructure can accelerate the transition to sustainable transport, or it can cement the existing system and make the switch needlessly expensive and protracted. To avoid the latter, various policy perspectives must align towards a common goal of creating a political framework for the transport transformation. Such a framework will help Germany to achieve its goal of a 40 to 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 relative to 1990 levels.

One of the first steps to achieving this transformation is strengthening the rail system. Another is the recognition that the transport infrastructure of the future will consist of more than concrete and steel alone. New elements will also include charging points, stations for alternative fuels and nationwide high-speed broadband. The federal government and local municipalities must somehow find the money to finance such investment even as tax revenues fall due to increased electrification. This will only be possible if there are reforms to the current system of taxes, levies and surcharges in the transport and electricity sectors.

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Core results

  1. 1

    Technology openness is a prerequisite for a successful and cost-efficient achievement of a sustainable transport sector.

    This means switching to new drive trains and fuels in an undistorted competitive field factoring in all economic costs and benefits of the various technologies.

  2. 2

    Technology openness does not mean technology neutrality.

    Technology-neutral regulations do not discriminate against available technologies. They generate technology openness only when technologies compete against each other under undistorted conditions. However, in practice technology-specific regulations are needed as well to overcome path dependencies in the transport sector and to guarantee technology openness.

  3. 3

    Technologies that harm the climate must be curbed to make space for new climate ­friendly ones.

    Path dependencies and external costs bias technology competition towards combustion engines and fossil fuels. A key approach for correcting these distortions and supporting the market exit (exnovation) of fossil fuels is an effective carbon pricing. Other supplementary instruments are a carbon-based vehicle tax and strict fleet-wide emission limits for new cars.

  4. 4

    Technology-specific policies are needed to promote infrastructure for new drive systems.

    To find acceptance, drive systems require a sufficiently tight-knit and user-friendly energy supply infrastructure network. But the private sector can profitably build infrastructure only when the technology is widely used. Accordingly, the state should temporarily promote the expansion of infrastructure and create a regulatory framework that enables the simple usage of this infrastructure.

  5. 5

    Support new technologies’ competitiveness.

    In order to overcome remaining barriers, targeted and temporarily limited support programmes can facilitate the market entry and ramp-up of innovative technologies. The programmes should consider the state of development of technologies and their projected contribution to decarbonisation. More­over, it seems desirable that the necessary financial means are raised in the transport sector itself, e. g., by the means of a bonus-malus system.

  6. 6

    Generate investment security by a long-term political commitment to sustainable transport and ambitious policy measures.

    Effective political commitment requires setting and ­achieving explicit sector targets. Moreover, the state should signal the inevitability of a transition towards a sustainable transport system by making targeted public investments and enacting a broad instrument mix for the reliable achievement of the transport sector emission target. Furthermore, it must seek to build the broadest political consensus possible.

  1. 1

    The energy transition in the power distribution grids can be successful, even if all passenger vehicles are electrified.

    Grid-friendly charging reduces the peak loads created when vehicles and electric heat pumps are charged simultaneously. It can also shift electricity consumption to times with abundant generation from solar photovoltaics and wind turbines.

  2. 2
  3. 3

    Electromobility can finance the expansion of the distribution network until 2050.

    Electric mobility increases electricity sales, while the overall investment needed for power lines and transformers does not increase. However, it is important that the participants in the mobility transition pay their fair share of grid fees.

  4. 4

    Smart charging can be designed to ensure that users hardly notice any restrictions.

    To achieve this, grid-friendly managed charging must become the standard. We need secure information and communications technologies, incentives and, if necessary, obligatory managed charging. Precautionary indirect control, in the form of incentives for grid-friendly charging, should take precedence over direct control by the distribution grid operator.

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