E-fuels for planes: with 45 projects, is the EU on track to meet its targets?

(Transport and Environment, 24 Jan 2024) Norway, Germany and France surge ahead to produce e-fuels for planes, but uncertainties in the market persist, a new study by green group Transport & Environment shows.

A total of 45 e-kerosene projects could see the light in the EEA, enabling sufficient supply of green fuels to meet the EU’s law on sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). But without final investment decisions, these projects are at risk as well as the targets stipulated by the law. A new study by NGO Transport & Environment counts 25 industrial projects and 20 smaller pilot projects that pledge to produce synthetic fuels for aviation.

The 25 industrial projects identified in the study have the ambition to produce 1.7 Mt of e-kerosene by 2030[1]. This would go well beyond the 600 kt mandated by the EU’s law on sustainable aviation fuels, called ReFuelEU[2]. The promised 1.7 Mt of fuel could power an equivalent of 70,000 transatlantic flights[3], and save a total of 4.6 million tonnes of CO2[4].

But for the moment, no major e-kerosene project has achieved final investment decision (FID). So whilst the amount of e-kerosene planned seems to indicate that the EU is on the right track to meet the law, the materialization of these projects is still very uncertain, T&E warns. Although the ReFuelEU law has created long-term predictable demand and de-risked investments into e-kerosene,  project developers still have to overcome many hurdles, such as low availability of green hydrogen and sustainable carbon sources, or the difficulty to convince airlines to sign purchase agreements.

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Transport and Environment, 24 Jan 2024: E-fuels for planes: with 45 projects, is the EU on track to meet its targets?