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EC initiative to support sustainable aviation fuel sector

The European energy sector has welcomed plans from the European Commission to draft a European Union (EU) regulation later this year, proactively supporting the creation of a sustainable alternative aviation fuel market and industry in Europe.

In consultation on the EU Executive’s ReFuelEU Aviation plan, part of its European Green Deal policy priority, energy companies were supportive of the initiative, which could include blending mandates for airlines, insisting on increasing use of alternative greener fuels within air fuel mixes, reports
Keith Nuthall. It could also include direct funding of alternative aviation fuel production development, the prioritisation of alternative aviation fuel makers in feedstock markets, and enabling EU member states to boost notional volumes of such aviation fuels by 20% when assessing compliance with the EU’s renewable energy directive.

French energy company Total said it would ‘favour…a SAF [sustainable aviation fuel] blending mandate’, noting ‘voluntary agreements have been in place for decades with no significant results despite willingness’. It added that such mandates should be technology neutral and ‘define sustainability criteria and recognise all sustainable feedstocks either biogenic or non-biogenic’.

In its comments, Shell said blending targets should be flexible, depending on the volumes of alternative aviation fuel supplies. And it added that should excise duties be charged in future on aviation fuel, lower carbon fuels must attract less duty.

EU renewable ethanol association ePURE, while also backing the initiative, said that when drafting the regulation, ‘discriminating between certified sustainable crop-based and advanced biofuels’ in any blending mandate ‘is not justified’.

French energy and engineering player Suez called on the Commission to use feed-in-tariffs to encourage the update of alternative aviation fuels, ‘in exchange for strong commitments from the aviation sector on incorporation levels over the medium to long term’.

Finnish biofuel major Neste stressed that a wide feedstock base needed to be developed to ensure alternative aviation fuel production is sustainable. But, ultimately, the Commission needed to focus on reducing the cost of these newer aviation fuels. ‘The price gap between SAF and fossil jet fuel is the main challenge,’ it said.

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