As Porsche races to electrify its fleet over the next decade, the German sports car maker is investing in alternative fuels to reduce its carbon footprint.
Porsche is backing fuel developer HIF Global, which has begun producing electricity-based synthetic fuels from hydrogen and carbon dioxide using wind energy. Earlier this year, Porsche said it invested $75 million for a 12.5 percent stake in HIF Global.
HIF's plant in Chile expects to produce about 130,000 liters of synthetic fuel per year in the pilot phase, with annual capacity of 55 million liters (14.5 million gallons) by mid-decade and 550 million liters by around 2027.
At current rates, the plant can produce eFuels for less than $2 a liter, Porsche R&D chief Michael Steiner told journalists on a video call Tuesday.
Porsche will be the initial buyer of the eFuel, using it to power race cars at the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and for cars at the company's "Experience Centers."
Over time, eFuels could power models like the Porsche 911 sports car, which the company plans to continue offering as a combustion engine model.
"Porsche is committed to a double-e path: e-mobility and eFuels as a complementary technology," Porsche AG procurement chief Barbara Frenkel said in a statement.
Other Volkswagen Group brands are interested in using eFuels as well, Steiner said. In the long term, HIF is expected to sell eFuels to oil and gas companies and to other automakers looking to reduce the carbon emissions of their fleets.
The potential for eFuels is significant. With more than 1.3 billion combustion engine vehicles worldwide, many of which will be on the roads for decades, alternative fuels offer owners of existing cars a nearly carbon-neutral alternative.
"We can't just rely on e-mobility in the new-car fleet," Frenkel said earlier this year. "We also need solutions to ensure that the existing vehicles and the growing global vehicle population contribute to decarbonization."
HIF Global plans to build 12 commercial sites in Texas, Chile and Australia and produce 150,000 barrels of fuel daily using 25 gigawatts of renewables and about 25 million tons per year of carbon dioxide.
These alternative fuels offer potential for other sectors as well, including marine and air transportation.
HIF's Chilean plant offers the ideal conditions for producing eFuels. Wind blows for around 270 days a year there, enabling wind turbines to operate at capacity.