The closer 2030 gets, the more you're going to hear about synthetic petrol. It is fast becoming the mechanical yin to electrification's yang. Formula 1 has already said it's targeting a '100 per cent sustainable fuel' by the middle of this decade. We talked about Prodrive's 'ECOpower' substitute not so long ago. But it is arguably Porsche which is putting its shoulder into the technology. And its money, too.
The manufacturer has just confirmed that it will invest $75m (£57m) in HIF Global LLC in return for a 'long-term stake' in the Santiago de Chile-based firm. The outlay is not just about R&D speculation either - the company in question is responsible for building the Haru Oni eFuel pilot plant, which, in partnership with Siemens Energy and ExxonMobil, is expected to begin the industrial production of 130,000 litres of eFuel from hydrogen and CO2 later this year. If successful, capacity will then be expanded in two stages to around 55 million litres by 2024, and around 550 million litres by 2026.
While Porsche is not alone in participating in the latest round of international financing - in time, synthetic fuel will likely prove crucial to the future of aviation and shipping, too, making it an obvious avenue for venture capital - plainly it sees considerable value not just in the eventual exploitation of the end product, but also in acquiring a stake in the method of its mass production (traditionally the sticking point of getting CO2-neutral fuel into your petrol tank).
"We see ourselves as pioneers in eFuels and want to drive the technology. This is one building block in our clear, overall sustainability strategy," said Michael Steiner, the board member for R&D at Porsche. The firm has been researching the use of renewable fuel for some time, and plans to use the first eFuel from Chile to power is flagship motorsport projects. In the future, it modestly reckons it might also be used to power combustion engines during initial fuelling at the factory, and at Porsche Experience Centres. But it's safe to assume that the manufacturer's internal end-game target is substantially more ambitious than that.
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