SAF at the heart of ReFuelEU’s European plans
European airlines have traditionally enjoyed bickering with airports and air navigation service providers over a range of issues, including charges and allegations of monopoly behavior. Today, however, the industry seems to have found common ground on one subject: the environment.
Driven by the public’s perception of air transport as an irresponsible polluter and by the European Green Deal – which would enshrine the EU’s commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 – the industry was launched in February. Destination 2050 – A road to net zero European aviation. »Intersectoral sustainable development initiative details roadmap to reduce CO2 emissions from all flights within and from “EU +”, which covers the EU27, the United Kingdom and the four countries of the European Free Trade Association. The plan foresees emission reductions of 45% by 2030 compared to the 2018 baseline and to achieve a net CO2 rate2 by 2050. The report calculates that the use of SAF could lead to emissions reductions of up to 46 percent, including a 12 percent reduction in CO2 reducing the effect of the more expensive FAS on demand.
The benefits of SAF for decarbonizing flight are well established – commercial flights powered in part by sustainable biofuel began in 2011 – but its use remains at minimal levels. SAF now accounts for less than 1% of EU aviation fuel consumption and only 25 airports in Europe receive sustainable biofuel, reveals a map recently released by Eurocontrol. Most of these airports receive consignments on an ad hoc basis and less than half receive ongoing SAF deliveries, all of which are located in the Nordic countries.
“For Europe to meet its climate targets, SAF must represent an increasing share of the aviation fuel mix to reach more than 60% by 2050,” said European Transport Commissioner Adina Valean. Analysis by the European Commission indicates that over time, synthetic or electro-fuels – also known as power-to-jet fuels or power-to-liquid (PtL) fuels – account for the largest share of the fuels in the industry. ‘sustainable low-carbon aviation,’ she said. In January, KLM operated an industry-first passenger flight from Amsterdam to Madrid using a blend of 500 liters of sustainable synthetic kerosene. Synthetic SAF was produced by Shell in its research center in Amsterdam and is based on CO2, renewable water and electricity from Dutch wind and solar installations.
Adina Valean, European Commissioner for Transport.
Speaking during his speech at the EBAA Online SAF Summit on April 20, Valean expressed confidence that the upcoming ReFuelEU Aviation initiative “will significantly boost both the production and adoption of SAF by establishing a long-term regulatory framework at EU level. . “
The European Commission has considered various policy options but concluded, after a three-month public consultation, that requiring a certain percentage of FAS to be mixed with conventional fossil kerosene is the best way to “solve the problem. chicken and egg and meet demand. -and-supply curves to meet somewhere, ”noted Filip Cornelis, director of aviation at the European Commission’s transport directorate. To have a “maximum” effect, he said, the SAF’s minimum participation obligations will not be limited to intra-EU flights but will include all flights departing from European airports. The mandate, details of which the commission has yet to officially release, will likely apply to fuel suppliers rather than individual airlines.
“We hope to set up a fairly simple system with not too many additional administrative burdens,” said Cornelis, although operators will need to collect data on the amount and type of SAF increased so that they can be used to obtain credits in the EU framework. ICAO Emissions Trading System and Carbon Offsetting and Reduction System for International Aviation (CORSIA).
EU-wide legislation will avoid “relying on national initiatives,” Valean said. Several European countries have already set mixing obligations or have announced their intention to do so. Norway introduced a requirement that 0.5 percent of advanced biofuel must be blended with jet fuel sold from 2020, with the aim of increasing the use of SAF to 30 percent of aviation fuel from by 2030. The Dutch government has set a target of 14 percent by 2030. while a recent French law requires all aircraft operators that refuel in the country to use at least 1% of SAF from by 2022, 2% by 2025 and 5% by 2030. Germany has started to prepare legislation providing for 0.5% blending with fuels from 2026, increasing to 2% by 2030 Spanish law on climate change sets a 2% SAF supply target for 2025.
The blending targets in the Re-FuelEU Aviation initiative will be binding and uniform across the bloc, confirmed Valean, but “they must be realistic – initially modest but becoming increasingly ambitious beyond 2030”, a- she said, adding that the fuel industry needs time to ramp up production.
According to Jonathan Wood, vice president of renewable aviation at Neste, a target SAF share of 5% of all aviation fuel demand by 2025 and 10% by 2030 is achievable in Europe. Many fuel producers on the continent are stepping up production of low-carbon fuels, often in cooperation with airlines who see it as a way to secure their own supply. KLM has partnered with SkyNRG on the construction of a factory in the Netherlands scheduled to open next year and has committed to purchase three quarters of the 100,000 tonnes of SAF annual production expected out of 10 years. SAS and Preem, Sweden’s largest fuel company, have signed an agreement to explore the possibility of large-scale biofuel deliveries from 2023, and British Airways has partnered with sustainable jet fuel developers LanzaJet and Velocys under a $ 400 million investment in the development of SAF by parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) over the next 20 years.
IAG has also pledged to power 10% of its flights with SAF by 2030. The group, which owns airlines in the UK and the EU, will purchase 1 million tonnes of SAF per year, which will result in a reduction in annual emissions of 2 million tonnes in nine years.
The European Commission intends to publish the ReFuelEU Aviation proposal before the summer. It will need the approval of the Council of the EU, which represents the Member States of the Union, and of the European Parliament. The requirement will take the form of a regulation and will therefore apply immediately to all Member States once adopted.
Along with the ReFuelEU proposal, the European Commission is reviewing the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and Renewable Energy Directive (RED) to align them with the objectives of the European Green Deal. The plans call for the ETS directive to include a proposal to reduce the free ETS quotas allocated to airlines.