Having set out to invest US$75 million (RM316.1 million) for a long-term stake in carbon-neutral fuels producer HIF Global for the production of synthetic fuels, or eFuels, Porsche has officiated the opening of the Haru Oni eFuels pilot plant in Punta Arenas, Chile, with the ceremonial fuelling of a Porsche 911 with the first batch of synthetic fuel produced at the site.

Officiated by Porsche head of procurement Barbara Frenkel and Porsche head of research and development Michael Steiner, the pilot plant in Punta Arenas, Chile produces the synthetic fuels from water (for hydrogen) and carbon dioxide by using wind energy, thus enabling the nearly-CO2-neutral operation of petrol engines, says Porsche.

Renewable fuels have already been pressed into use by Porsche at its Supercup one-make racing series from 2021, and eFuels will also see wider use at Porsche Experience Centres to help its ICE-based cars run close to carbon neutrality.

“The potential of eFuels is huge. There are currently more than 1.3 billion vehicles with combustion engines worldwide. Many of these will be on the roads for decades to come, and eFuels offer the owners of existing cars a nearly carbon-neutral alternative,” Steiner said.

The southern region of Chile, where the pilot production plant is located, offers ideal conditions for the production of eFuels as wind blowing for 270 days in a year enables the wind turbines to operate at full capacity. Being located close to the Strait of Magellan, the Punta Arenas production plant is close to the port of Cabo Negro, from which the synthetic fuels can be transported worldwide through existing infrastructure.

Wider-scale production of eFuels from the Chile production plant will commence in 2024, and expects to produce 55 million litres of eFuels that year. This will ramp up to 550 million litres a year by 2026, R&D chief Steiner has previously stated. While Porsche targets for 80% of all new cars sold to fully electric, that still leaves 20% with ICE-based powertrains.

The 1.3 billion combustion engine-powered vehicles will include the car that Porsche is best known for, the 911, and there are approximately still 70% out of all 911s ever produced since 1963 which are still on the road, Steiner added.

This rolling out of synthetic eFuels is part of the wider effort by Porsche to achieve CO2-neutral balance sheet across its entire value chain by 2030, the carmaker stated, and this is to include a CO2-neutral usage phase for its future all-electric models.