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Sustainable fuels (SAF): the present and future of green aviation

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We have already warned: the mission to decarbonize the aerospace mobility sector is unstoppable. Last July, the European Parliament backed a legislative project to accelerate the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Now, Aena, the public company that manages airports in Spain, has taken on an important role in the production and distribution of SAF and has begun to establish alliances with administrations, companies and civil society to move towards more environmentally friendly flights, which we would like to share in this post.

Agreements for the provision of UAS: Aena’s initiative

To participate in the great challenge of decarbonization of the sector, Aena joins ties with different European and global programs, such as the World Economic Forum’s “Clean Skies for Tomorrow”, which seeks the progressive adoption of UAS by 2030. It also collaborates with the Industry Alliance for Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Value Chains, which aims to work to ensure sufficient aviation sector access to renewable and low-carbon fuels.

Another key to sustainability is to promote technological innovation and count on travelers as allies. Decide how much SAF is incorporated into your flight? It is now possible. Aena, through the AVIKOR platform of the company Exolum (dedicated to the storage and transport of liquid products from Europe), offers passengers at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas and Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat airports the possibility of requesting, with a mobile application, how much sustainable fuel they incorporate into their air travel. “AVIKOR calculates the liters of SAF needed to reduce the emissions of the flights requested by the customer and is responsible for introducing this fuel into the airport refueling system, replacing traditional kerosene, with the customer assuming the price difference between the two fuels,” Exolum explains.

For its part, hydrogen has become the soul of this important energy solution within the aviation sector, as we well know at M&M Group, which is part of AeH2. It will be supplied mainly in liquid form, although gaseous or salt variants are also available. In the move towards a roadmap to achieve climate neutrality by 2030, Aena will install hydrogenerators at Spain’s five main airports, and 40% of the air fleet is expected to be powered by hydrogen by 2050, according to a study by the consultancy McKinsey.

Boosting SAF from private companies

Since November 25, Cepsa has been serving sustainable fuel made from olive pits and other vegetable waste from the olive sector to 220 flights taking off from Seville airport, making it the first airport in southern Europe to use this type of biofuel. Air Europa, Air Nostrum, Iberia Express, Ryanair, Vueling and Wizz Air have agreed with Cepsa this initiative to introduce SAF in their tanks mixed with kerosene, in a reduced amount of 4.5%.

The fuel comes from the energy park of La Rábida (Huelva) and Exolum is in charge of the supply. The volume of PBS produced will be enough to cover 400,000 kilometers with an average aircraft and avoid more than 200 tons of CO2, a reduction of almost 90%. Another advantage of this biofuel is that it can be used in any aircraft without any technical cost overruns.

Tax on fuel oil

The EU strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, “Fit for 55 by 2030”, includes the proposal of a tax on the use of kerosene. The debate on the imposition of this measure has flared up again in recent days and the Air Line Association (ALA) has announced that it will join Portugal, Italy and Greece in stopping the tax on fuel oil.

The Energy Taxation Directive Review has anticipated a tax rate on kerosene for aviation, currently exempt, which starts from a minimum and will continue with a progression for ten years from 2024. For their part, sustainable fuels would benefit from a zero rate.

The president of ALA, Javier Gándara, has stated that this opposition is not against lowering the carbon footprint by means of FFS or the application of an emission allowance system, and that “the companies that belong to the Association are committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050”.

The SAF for aircraft flight meets with the approval of public and private organizations. Prioritizing the real decarbonization of the aerospace sector in the near future is already on the global action agenda and its final development will achieve revolutionary results.