‘Clean jet fuel of the future’: EU urged to ramp up e-kerosene ambition

Calls are mounting for the European Union to increase its targets for the production of e-kerosene, the low carbon fuel produced using green hydrogen and direct air air capture technologies.

An analysis published this morning by think tank Transport & Environment argues the targets for the clean fuel currently proposed by the European Commission are “too low and start too late”.

As it published research setting out the potential for e-kerosene production within the bloc, the group today called on lawmakers to adjust its flagship sustainable aviation fuel legislation to mandate that 0.1 per cent of jet fuel in European flights should be e-kerosene by 2025 , growing to two per cent by 2030.

The Commission’s ReFuelEU strategy sets out plans to introduce a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandate, which would require airlines to mix a certain threshold of traditional, emissions-intensive jet fuel with low carbon SAFs. Under the current proposals, this mandate includes a “sub target” requiring operators” to ensure that 0.7 per cent of their fuel by 2030 is e-kerosene.

Campaigners have argued the e-fuel, otherwise known as power-to-liquid fuel, has the potential to deliver more significant carbon savings and has less impact on land use than other types of SAF, such as biofuel produced from agricultural waste or other organic feedstocks.

Matteo Mirolo, aviation policy officer at T&E, said it was crucial that policymakers focused on growing the nascent e-kerosene market as they worked to decarbonise the emissions-intensive aviation sector.

“Europe has a once in a lifetime opportunity to become the leader for green aviation through its ReFuelEU proposal,” he said. “For that, policymakers have to prioritise the right type of sustainable fuels: rather than biofuels derived from unsustainable feedstocks, the EU needs to raise the game on e-kerosene.”

Transport & Environment’s analysis calculates that sustainable fuel plants planned across the EU have the potential to generate 1.83 million tons of e-kerosene by 2030, if they are provided the right incentives to turbocharge production.

The sector could cover roughly 3.65 per cent of European airlines’ fuel demand by 2030, saving about five million tons of CO2, or the emissions equivalent to 30,000 transatlantic flights, the report argues.

Mirolo stressed that a drive to grow the e-kerosene market would create jobs and boost employment, whilst also advancing progress towards climate goals.

“Green e-kerosene is the clean jet fuel of the future and must be the go-to option for airlines and policy makers alike,” he said. “The opportunity for Europe is first in terms of climate impact reduction, job creation and fuel strategic autonomy. Now, it’s time for national and European legislators to drive the uptake and mandate the use of e-kerosene in aviation.”

For e-kerosene to have near zero greenhouse gas emissions, it must be produced with hydrogen produced using renewable electricity and with carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere using direct air capture (DAC) technology.

However, just seven of 18 of Europe’s e-kerosene manufacturers currently plan to make the fuel using DAC, according to T&E’s report.

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