A New Horizon for Sustainable Aviation Fuel in Europe

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ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation: A New Horizon for Sustainable Aviation Fuel in Europe

On September 13, 2023, the European Parliament took a historic step towards a greener aviation future by approving the “ReFuelEU Aviation” Regulation. This regulation imposes a mandate on EU fuel suppliers, requiring that by 2025, a minimum of 2% of aviation fuels supplied to Union Airports be composed of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This percentage is set to progressively rise, reaching 70% by 2050. The regulation also stipulates that a proportion of this fuel mix must include synthetic fuels, such as e-kerosene, with the goal of it constituting 35% by 2050.

The approval by the Parliament is largely symbolic, as the Council of the European Union is expected to ratify it without major challenges, given the consensus achieved between both entities during a lengthy negotiation process.

The genesis of this bold move dates back to July 2021, when the European Union introduced the Fit for 55 package. The overarching objective of this package was to reduce EU Greenhouse Gas emissions by a minimum of 55% (relative to 1990 levels) by 2030. Transport sectors, especially aviation, became focal points in this initiative. By June 2023, the updated EU ETS for aviation was in force, further solidifying the EU’s commitment to sustainable aviation.

ReFuelEU’s approval has been celebrated by industry stakeholders, including the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). They highlight the significance of this legislation, emphasising its position as the EU’s first-ever SAF mandate. SAF is instrumental for the Business Aviation sector’s goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Despite the optimism, it is essential to recognise that SAF currently occupies a negligible portion of the global jet fuel market. Although there was a notable uptick in production in 2022, SAF’s overall global market share remains small. The longstanding “chicken and egg” quandary – the need for clear mandates to stimulate SAF production – has been a limiting factor. The ReFuelEU legislation offers a potential solution, promising market assurance and potential price reductions in the mid-term.

For the business aviation sector, having more SAF at European airports is a significant development. It caters to a growing clientele that desires sustainable flights without compromising the perks of business jets. Yet, the legislation’s text does have certain oversights. JetFlo regrets the absence of a “Book & Claim” system, which would have provided flexibility for operators and brokers in obtaining SAF, and the definition of ‘Union airport’ might limit SAF availability at smaller terminals, potentially hampering business aviation’s green transition.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. ReFuelEU’s Article 15 suggests the possible future adoption of a Book & Claim system, which can address some of these concerns and help the business aviation sector stay on track to meet its 2050 decarbonisation targets. Clic here to find out more about JetFlo’s green initiatives.

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