Porsche’s eFuel Is Not for the Future: It Means to Keep the Past Running

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Porsche revealed on September 10 that it would build an eFuel plant in Chile. The Haru Oni project intends to use wind power to create green hydrogen, which will be processed to produce synthetic methanol, and, eventually, an eFuel compatible with gasoline cars. The German company also makes it clear what is the ultimate goal of eFuels. It is not to keep combustion engines alive: it is to keep the existing ones running.

Porsche stated that 70% of all the sports cars it ever produced are still running. That probably excludes the Cayenne, the Macan, and the Panamera, as capable as they are. These classic vehicles will need something to burn, and it would better be carbon neutral, regardless of the cost. The German carmaker said its eFuel almost delivers that, which is not very specific.

The only exception to that rule would be the 911. The company said the 911 is “is particularly suited to the use of eFuels.” This is not just rhetorical: it is a need. If Porsche ever has to give up on combustion engines, that will kill the 911 for good. Think about it: would a car without a boxer engine be called a 911? More than that: why would an EV ever have a rear motor? It can be placed right over the axle or even inside the wheels.

With eFuel, Porsche will first try to push for the 911 to live as long as possible. When governments all over the world ban combustion engines, the carmaker will keep the ones it sold running with a fuel that is not as harmful to the environment as petroleum products.

The plant in Puntas Arenas would be ideal for producing this eFuel. The region was selected thanks to its “perfect climatic conditions for wind energy in Magallanes province.” With the “low-cost green wind power,” the Haru Oni pilot plant will use electrolyzers to produce hydrogen.

It would be interesting to learn where the water for that project will come from. In Argentina, lithium exploration uses massive amounts of water. That has led indigenous communities to protest against the mining companies in their region. Hopefully, the Haru Oni project will not use potable water to make fuel.

The pilot plant will start production by mid-2022. Siemens Energy, HIF (Highly Innovative Fuels), Enel, ExxonMobil, Gasco, and ENAP are the companies working with Porsche on the project. They expect to produce 130,000 liters of eFuels next year. By 2024, the pilot plant will have expanded that to 55 million liters and 550 million liters by 2026.