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Fit for 55 and ReFuelEU Aviation

ReFuelEUThe EU has set ambitious targets to reduce net emissions with the aim of becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050. 

Detailed goals and milestones are laid down in the first ever European Climate Law and in the ‘Fit for 55’ package, setting out an initial target of reduction in emissions by 55% in 2030 (compared with the level of 1990).

We have compiled information on how this will impact air transport, and specifically the important role sustainable aviation fuels will play.

Boosting SAF uptake in air transport

As part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, the Commission proposed to boost the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in air transport.

SAF have a significant role to play in the decarbonisation of the sector, but currently their share in EU aviation is negligible.

You can find more information on Sustainable Aviation Fuels, in our previous article on EASA Light.

All flights from EU airports to use SAF

The proposed rules set out EU-level harmonised obligations on fuel suppliers and airlines to scale up the uptake of SAF, by introducing a mandate applied to all flights departing from European airports.

This means that every flight leaving the larger EU airports, will carry a minimum amount of SAF, no matter whether the airline is an EU airline or not.

The table below shows the binding SAF targets, starting with 2% in 2025 and reaching 5% in 2030.

In order to meet the EU’s climate objectives, it is expected that by 2050, at least 63% of all aviation fuel used for flights departing from EU airports should be SAF.

Synthetic fuels (or e-fuels) will play a major role in the decarbonisation of the air transport market and have great potential. The proposed rules therefore set a sub-target to ensure that a certain amount of SAF used are synthetic fuels (see green reference in table).

Total shares in fuel mix

  2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050
Percentage of SAF used in air transport: 2% 5% 20% 32% 38% 63%
Of which: sub-mandate Synthetic fuels (or e-fuels): - 0.7% 5% 8% 11% 28%

What sorts of SAFs are considered?

Looking at the range of SAFs and their respective feedstock, the regulation considers the following SAF categories:

  • So-called advanced biofuels, which are fuels that are produced from feedstock listed in Annex IX, Part A of the Renewable Energy Directive
  • Fuels produced form feedstock listed in Part B
  • Synthetic Aviation fuels (Power-to-Liquid or e-fuels)

The fuels also need to comply with the sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions criteria laid down in the Renewable Energy Directive.

Synthetic Aviation Fuels (or e-fuels)

Synthetic fuels, e-fuels or Power-to-liquid (PtL) fuels are fuels made from renewable sources other than biomass, e.g. wind and solar power. As a basic explanation, the renewable energy and water are used in an electrolyser to produce hydrogen, which is subsequently synthesised with CO2 into syngas. The resulting syngas is then further processed into fuel.

Long-term policy for SAF

As this represents an important challenge, the objective of the proposed Regulation is to provide a long-term policy to ensure that the aviation single market is well equipped for the mandatory blending of SAF into conventional kerosene and provides the necessary push for investments to increase SAF production capacity.

EASA’s task – monitoring & reporting

Within this proposal, EASA is tasked with monitoring and reporting tasks which will ensure the obligations are met and that will provide important insights into the evolving and growing SAF market.

This regulation will be an important pillar in making aviation fit for the future by ensuring a well-functioning market providing sustainable mobility for benefits of citizens. It will position EU as the global leader on cutting-edge transport fuels and, most importantly, offer substantial climate benefits by significant in-sector emissions savings.