Wed. Oct 4th, 2023
    The ReFuelEu Initiative: Implementing Sustainable Aviation Fuel Requirements

    The European Parliament has approved new regulations as part of the ReFuelEu initiative, which aims to increase the production and use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in the European Union. The introduction of these regulations aims to combat greenwashing in the field by defining what fuels can be considered sustainable. The initiative is part of the EU’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.
    Currently, the production and uptake of SAF in the EU is minimal, with less than 0.05% of the fuel supply being SAF as of 2020. To address this, the new regulations will require all flights departing from EU airports to use a blend of at least 2% SAF by 2025. This will increase to a minimum of 5% SAF by 2030 and 63% by 2050.
    However, the initiative has faced criticism from Lufthansa CEO, who highlights the limited production facilities in the continent and the higher fuel prices associated with SAF production. It is suggested that passengers will ultimately bear the cost of these changes.
    The term “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” can be misleading, as not all SAFs are truly sustainable. Crop-based biofuels, which make up the majority of biofuels produced in Europe, can be detrimental to food production and cause land-use change that may result in higher emissions than conventional jet fuel. To address this, the EU’s mandate only includes advanced biofuels and e-kerosene as eligible SAF feedstocks.
    Advanced biofuels, such as those produced by Neste, are made from waste cooking oil and animal fats, utilizing carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere and thus considered carbon neutral. However, the limited supply and increased demand for fuel from other sectors pose challenges to extensive use. E-kerosene, produced from carbon dioxide and renewable energy, is almost carbon-neutral but comes with a higher price tag compared to regular kerosene.
    By specifying which feedstocks count as SAF, the EU aims to prevent further greenwashing in the industry. However, the sustainability mandate poses challenges due to potential supply limitations of waste-derived fuels and e-kerosene. It remains to be seen how realistic the EU’s 2% blending ratio target for 2025 is and whether airlines will meet these requirements.
    Source: European Parliament, Lufthansa, Transport and Environment