The European Union (EU) is moving forward with a law that would mandate the increasing usage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) from 2025.
In a statement on April 26, 2023, the European Commission (EC) stated that it welcomed “the political agreement on the ReFuelEU Aviation proposal, reached yesterday between the European Parliament and the Council”. Once the law is in place, it “will help decarbonise the aviation sector by requiring fuel suppliers to blend sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with kerosene in increasing amounts from 2025,” the EC continued.
It’s projected that the rules should reduce aircraft emissions by two-thirds by 2050 in comparison to taking no action, according to the Commission.
“Yesterday’s political agreement now requires formal adoption by the Parliament and the Council,” noted the EC, adding that, once it is formally adopted, the legislation will subsequently be published in the Office Journal of the EU. Once it is published there, the regulations will enter into force immediately.
The SAF mandate will start in 2025, requiring aviation fuel suppliers to provide 2% SAF of the overall fuel share to the bloc’s airports. The mandate will increase gradually and by 2050, the minimum share of SAF will rise to 70%.
Previously, a document published by the EC in July 2021 mandated a 63% share of SAF by 2050.
“The blending mandate covers biofuels, recycled carbon fuels and synthetic aviation fuels (e-fuels) in line with the Renewable Energy Directive, but excludes food and feed crops, supporting sustainability objectives,” added the Commission.
Crucially, airlines will be prohibited from departing from EU airports with excess fuel to “avoid emissions related to extra weight or carbon leakage caused by ‘tankering’ practices”. Tankering practices, according to the EC, involve carrying additional fuel simply to avoid using SAF, which is much more expensive than standard jet fuel.
According to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the price of kerosene is around €600 ($662) per tonne, while SAF is priced “from 1.5 to 6 times higher”.
Per the new law, airports will also have to ensure their infrastructure supports SAF distribution and usage.
“Since it will apply throughout the EU, the new mandate will ensure a level playing field within the EU internal market, provide legal certainty to fuel producers and help kick-start large-scale production across the continent,” the EC concluded.
READ MORE: Aviation industry‘s Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) problem