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SAF key to decarbonising aviation sector

Refining companies focus on sustainable fuels: new plants in Europe

Planet Earth has entered what could be called the climate change era. It is the spirit of the times. Although the aviation industry produces about 2% of global CO2 emissions, aircraft are currently still among the most polluting modes of transport. In fact, unlike ships, trains and buses, new propulsion technologies such as electric batteries and hydrogen for aircraft are in the distant future. Therefore, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (Saf) could have a key role in closing this gap by reducing the use of fuels based on petroleum refining. 

This prospect fuels the goals of Dutch Shell, which will produce more than 800,000 tons of renewable fuels (half of which will likely be Saf) at a new plant in Rotterdam that will come on-line in 2024. This will roughly cover EU demand. Finland's Neste Oyj also aims to produce about 1.5 million tons of Saf by 2025. 

The high cost of this fuel remains the biggest obstacle for aviation implementation: prices are 3-5 times higher. In any case, under current legislation, commercial jets are designed to run on blends of up to 50% conventional fossil fuels. This means that the European Union's 2030 target of using 5% Saf fuel (today it is less than 1%) lacks ambition.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency