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EU postpones aviation and sustainable fuels strategy

  • Market: Biofuels, Hydrogen, Oil products
  • 09/12/20

The European Commission has postponed until "early next year" proposals aimed at tackling aviation emissions, including measures boosting uptake of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The commission is still committed to proposing specific targets to boost SAF uptake but is also considering measures to reduce demand for air travel.

The commission today outlined a wide-ranging transport strategy aimed at reducing emissions and pollution. It includes reaching 30mn zero-emission cars by 2030. Other elements of the general transport strategy tackle emissions from aviation.

The commission had been expected to propose a strategy, and possibly legislation, that could lay out an EU-wide blending mandate for SAF.The comission's vice-president Frans Timmermans said the initial draft could be improved, given ongoing developments in the biofuels and e-fuels sector. He did however commit to targets for SAF, albeit without mentioning specific levels for a mandate. EU transport commissioner Adina Valean said that depending on findings, the commission will put in place a "trajectory for uptake of these alternative fuels".

Other elements in the general transport strategy to limit emissions focus on demand. The commission is examining a 2008 regulation that allows EU states to limit or ban flights when "serious" environmental problems exist and when more sustainable modes of transport provide appropriate levels of service. Under the regulation, bans cannot exceed three years without being reviewed.

"These are things that are relatively simple to resolve. Every day, there are more than five to even 10 flights between Brussels and Amsterdam," said Timmermans, who noted support for such a measure from member states and the European Parliament.

Under a business-as-usual scenario, the commission projects alternative fuels, including renewable and low-carbon fuels, represent 11.2pc of transport energy demand by 2030 — including international aviation and maritime transport — and 22.6pc by 2050. Some 5pc of all transport fuels in 2030 are of biological origin under the business-as-usual scenario. But oil products still fill 89pc of EU transport sector needs in 2030 and 77pc in 2050.

Today's marginal 0.1pc contribution of liquid biofuels in the aviation fuel mix would grow under the baseline scenario to 0.2pc by 2030 and close to 3pc by 2050. Other commission scenarios, assuming more ambitious policies including a mandate, see liquid biofuels and e-liquids representing 3-8pc of aviation energy use by 2030 and as much as 63-68pc in 2050. But even with significant uptake of liquid biofuels and e-liquids, the remainder of aviation fuel would still be conventional in 2050.

More generally, the more ambitious commission modelling projects that renewable and low-carbon fuels in road transport will rise to 10-11pc by 2030. By 2050, power could represent 30-42pc of energy use in road transport with hydrogen providing 31-40pc, while biofuels and biomethane provide a lower share at 6-15pc and e-fuels represent 10-17pc.


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