The European Parliament will today give its approval to the ReFuelEU Aviation initiative, the regulation that establishes the progressive implementation of sustainable fuels in European aviation starting in 2025. The regulation, which is expected to be approved by a large majority of MEPs, improves the requirements initially set by the European Commission and completes the Fit for 55 (Goal 55) community package that sets the roadmap to guarantee the transition towards a green and decarbonized economy. The initiative will allow airlines to use the SAF on their flights progressively, and provides legal certainty to the industry, which will be able to begin mass producing it. Biofuels are the main solution that the airline sector has found to decarbonize its activity, which generates 3% of polluting emissions into the atmosphere worldwide.
The legislative initiative, which will be voted on in the plenary session held today in the European Parliament, establishes the community regulatory framework to promote the production of this type of sustainable fuels (SAF) and its subsequent use by the aviation sector. In it, oil companies are obliged to supply airlines and airports with a certain amount mixed with kerosene that will increase progressively from its implementation until the year 2050, when airplanes will have to operate mostly with this type of fuel.
The rule affects airlines with more than 500 passenger flights or 52 cargo flights per year that take off from any country in the European Union, as well as all EU airports that exceed 800,000 passengers annually or transport more than 100,000. tons. of cargo, although facilities with lower traffic figures can also join the initiative voluntarily.
Scale production to lower its price.
This biofuel, called SAF by the industry, can be of natural or synthetic origin and allows CO2 emissions to be reduced by up to 80% compared to common cheese. The natural one is made with used oils or urban waste, while the synthetic one requires industrial production. Once processed, it is mixed with traditional fuel to be supplied directly to the aircraft. From the industry they point out that a plane fed with high quantities of SAF mixed with traditional cheese can now move completely normally.
In this way, airlines must fly with 2% sustainable fuels starting in 2025, a figure that will increase progressively over the next two decades: 6% in 2030, 20% in 2035, 34% . in 2040 and 70% in 2050. At the same time, synthetic fuel (e-fuel) will be progressively introduced, which must be used in 1.2% of flights from 2030 until reaching 35% in 2050.
However, the chain of actors involved in this energy revolution have warned that the current SAF production is insignificant for the real needs of European airlines, who also warn of its high price, which can be up to three or four times that of the kerosene. The initiative approved in Strasbourg seeks to scale the production of biofuels to lower the cost of production while the airline industry advances in its decarbonization.
Looking for ideas to avoid making tickets more expensive
The EU has reserved 20 million free emission rights redeemable by airlines in exchange for the purchase of SAF until 2030 to reduce the economic impact derived from this energy transition on the pockets of travelers. This has been one of the great concerns of legislators, due to the possible increase in costs that it could entail in the price of plane tickets or in the costs of airlines, something that would end up affecting European connectivity.
The proposal has involved two years of intense legislative work until reaching the agreement of the three community institutions (Commission, Council and European Parliament) and having the support of a large majority of the chamber. The initiative has been led by the Spanish MEP José Ramón Bauzá, from the liberal group Renew Europe, who in statements to La Información highlighted the measure as “the most effective for aviation” to the detriment of the emissions trading regime, the tax to kerosene or the ban on short-haul flights, which in his opinion are measures that do not resolve the need to decarbonize the airline industry.
The measure includes the European institutions and the different countries providing economic resources to guarantee the development of these new generation fuels, something that must be complemented by the private sector. The European Parliament expects that this regulation will cover 95% of the planes that take off from EU airports, although it contemplates exceptions for non-EU or island territories, such as the Canary Islands, whose aerodromes and flights must not comply with these requirements due to its remoteness from the rest of the continent.