According to Nico Rosberg, the future of Formula 1 lies in synthetic fuels. The former world champion told CNBC that they could potentially serve as a bridge to electric mobility.
In an interview with Tania Bryer from CNBC during the Sustainable Future Forum last week, Rosberg also threw his weight behind e-mobility, describing it as “the way forward”, but also admitted that the sector was facing challenges.
Rosberg’s comments on synthetic fuels come after F1 announced plans to “help develop a 100% sustainable fuel” that could be used in standard internal combustion engines.
In a statement in early October, F1 said the laboratory-made fuel would “use components that come from either a carbon capture system, municipal waste, or non-food biomass”. It would achieve “greenhouse gas emissions savings of at least 65% compared to fossil gasoline”.
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In his interview with CNBC, Rosberg – who won his title in 2016 and now describes himself as a “sustainability entrepreneur” – claimed that it would take decades for electric mobility to penetrate emerging markets.
“If we could possibly build a bridge there … with synthetic fuels, it could have such a big impact around the world,” he said. “And if Formula 1 can play a role in this, I’m very, very proud.”
Rosberg’s comments come at a time when large, developed economies are trying to reduce the ecological footprint of road transport.
The UK, for example, wants to stop sales of new diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2030. From 2035, all new cars and vans must be emission-free.
Elsewhere, the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, aims to reduce CO2 emissions from cars and vans by 100% by 2035.
Regarding the electric vehicle sector in general, Rosberg said: “E-mobility is certainly the way forward, but there are challenges.”
“Battery manufacturing – and battery recycling in particular – will be a huge challenge … but also a huge business opportunity,” he added.
Efforts are already being made to deal with batteries. For example, in 2020, Norsk Hydro and Northvolt will set up a joint venture called Hydrovolt.
Hydrovolt’s overarching goal is to set up a center for recycling batteries in Norway, a country where the introduction of electric vehicles is significant.
The plant, which can process over 8,000 tons of batteries annually, is due to start operating this year.