In the context of current discussions on the recast of the renewable energy Directive, concerned parties have the chance to advance on the scale-up of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.
The aeronautics sector is fully committed to reducing its emissions. To this end, the sector has taken a number of measures in different areas:
In fact, in terms of climate objectives, the industry has set itself the goal of stabilizing emissions from 2020 and halving emissions by 2050 compared to 2005, thus being in line with the provisions of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Although much has been achieved in this domain, the industry is conscious of the need to reduce even further its carbon footprint. Hence, it is determined to exploit all the potential offered by sustainable alternative fuels. As opposed to other transport modes, commercial aviation will rely fully on liquid hydrocarbon fuels with no safe and certified alternative foreseen for the next decades. It is therefore key to concentrate efforts on measures and solutions that are compatible and whose object is the existing fleet.
Did you know? Sustainable alternative fuels can reduce the carbon footprint of aviation fuel by up to 80% over their full lifecycle.
The aviation industry has clearly demonstrated the technical suitability of sustainable alternative aviation fuels. For long, Airbus has been engaged in numerous research and development projects across the globe. Thanks to Airbus’ involvement and its partner, more than 2000 demonstration flights have been performed worldwide. Today, a number of pathways for sustainable alternative aviation fuels have been certified and qualified ensuring the safety of these fuels in existing infrastructures.
The major obstacle encountered for the commercialisation of sustainable alternative aviation fuels is the cost differential with fossil jet fuel, but also with road or marine biofuels. And, this has been worsened by the recent drop in the price of fossil oil. The cost of sustainable alternative fuels being higher than the cost of conventional fuel results in the former lack of competitiveness, which directly acts as a barrier to their deployment.
Recently, the European Commission has proposed to favour sustainable alternative fuels for aviation by considering their contribution towards the EU 2030 renewable energy consumption target to be 1.2 times their energy content. The fact that the European Commission has tried to address the particular needs of the aviation sector in the renewable energy directive proposal has been broadly welcomed by industry stakeholders.
Now, policymakers and actors across the value chain have the task to work together, particularly on a meaningful multiplier that would foster the market uptake for sustainable alternative aviation fuels.