Strategies for climate protection: We spoke with Prof. Dr. Christoph Walther, Head of Global Research at PTV and one of the three scientific coordinators of the Mobility and Fuel Strategy (MFS) of the German Government.
Compass: Actually, the government should take action as soon as possible – arguably not always such an easy matter in practice. You can probably tell us a thing or two about it.
Christoph Walther: Yes, that’s right. And it always starts with the mantra “Climate protection is one of the great challenges of our time”. The fact is that although the transport sector is one of the largest energy consumers in Germany and the third largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, the German automobile industry plays an important role for our economic development and for safeguarding employment. For some measures, we must first create a sense of the urgency among the users – and then, of course, all actions need to be economically sustainable. What is certain is that we need a whole package of measures to achieve our climate targets.
Compass: What measures have been identified in the context of MFS?
Christoph Walther: There are several central fields of action: In addition to e-mobility, there is the need for passenger cars and trucks to shift to alternative fuels, synthetic fuels as well as second-generation biofuels (from waste materials). The first test tracks for trucks powered by an overhead catenary system are currently being set up.
expanded. Electrification must be promoted. In rail transport, we have to analyse the opportunities for consignment sizes smaller than a container and much more. Inland navigation also needs to be promoted. Alternative fuels, such as Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), are helpful here. Synthetic fuels are among the promising fuels, especially for marine and aviation applications. In addition, there are measures supporting walking, cycling and bus transport. In public transport, for example, it is being tested where routes for trolleybuses make sense. However, the installation of overhead lines at intersections is particularly costly. Therefore, hybrid buses could be used to save these costs.
Compass: How does the PTV Group participate in MFS?
Christoph Walther: I’m one of the three MFS coordinators and the PTV Group provides consultancy services on almost all the topics mentioned above. We are committed to knowledge transfer covering all aspects of new mobility and share our software and consulting expertise in this field. This includes studies on the digitalisation of railways and on opportunities to reactivate rail lines.
In the field of new mobility, we managed a project in which, as a first step, it was determined what exactly is to be understood by these new forms of mobility. In addition, we analysed the current demand for these new forms of mobility, including the space types and the respective form of mobility, offering the greatest advantage. You will have to take different measures, depending on whether areas are densely or less densely populated. We used our PTV MaaS Modeller tool to create scenarios, calculate forecasts and identify potentials.
We are involved in automated driving, including the combination of cycling and public transport. Here we develop concepts for intelligent and safe bicycle stations, especially for e-bikes, etc. As a basis for all individual studies, a reference scenario for 2030 was developed together with the MFS partners. As part of the modelling process, all key data down to street level was entered into Validate, our transport model for the whole of Germany.
Compass: When is the right time to implement these smart ideas?
Christoph Walther: Preferably tomorrow. Actually, many stakeholders are affected and many individual actions are up for discussion – but this is also the huge challenge, because we must always analyse how these individual measures can be combined, whether they complement each other or possibly contradict each other, what effects they have on the various population groups. 2030 and 2050 still seem a long way off, but we really must act quickly to ensure that the measures take effect in time. This applies in particular to infrastructural measures due to their long planning cycles. Price and regulatory policy measures have a much shorter implementation horizon.
Compass: It probably won’t start that fast … What else can be done?
Christoph Walther: If we are serious about the change in traffic, this will also have a strong impact on the economy and the energy sector. This requires a concerted effort on the part of the entire German economy, but also represents an opportunity for Germany to become a technology leader with ecologically valid products and concepts. Unfortunately, the current budget estimates for 2020 do not reflect a strong commitment by the public sector.
The Mobility and Fuels Strategy (MFS) of the German Government describes the options for energy and fuel for the transport sector, covering the following modes of transport: road, air, maritime and inland waterways and rail. It also focuses on the energy infrastructure required to meet the targets of the Climate Action of the German Government by 2050. The aim is to show transitory paths – development paths – towards the fulfilment of the climate targets. For this purpose, various measures were developed and evaluated, for example in the context of charging infrastructure required for alternative fuels, as well as improved handling strategies (off the roads onto the railways) and the use of hybrid catenary trucks or the extension of the electrified rail system. These actions were grouped, wherever possible. Their introduction was then successively simulated or their impacts were assessed. Here you will find an article on the scientific support and process monitoring of MFS.