Eurocontrol Calls SAF Distribution ‘a Crucial Issue’

 - June 8, 2021, 10:40 AM
A Eurocontrol "snapshot" shows that 12 airports in Europe regularly offer SAF to airlines. (Image: Eurocontrol)

Eurocontrol on Tuesday released a so-called snapshot showing the distribution and availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Europe, underscoring the progress still needed to meet the agency’s “aspirational goal” of a 10 percent use rate on the continent by 2030. Now accounting for .05 percent of total jet fuel consumption, SAF use in such volumes would reduce CO2 emissions from EU departing flights by 8 percent, according to Eurocontrol.

The agency calls logistical considerations for getting the fuel to airports a “crucial issue.” In 2019, just 39 of 1,657 EU airports accounted for 80 percent of the volume of conventional fuel used by aircraft departing from EU airports. Therefore, instead of distributing SAF evenly over all 1,657 EU airports, concentrating on the fuel supply chain at those 39 airports would prove a more efficient tack, according to Eurocontrol. Providing a 12.5 percent SAF blend to those airports would achieve the same 8 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from flights departing the EU. So far only seven of the 39 airports (Frankfurt, Paris CDG, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Stockholm-Arlanda, Hamburg, and Munich) have started to supply SAF.

SAF now costs some double the price of fossil jet fuel. Therefore, the use of 12.5 percent SAF in the fuel mixture would lead to a subsequent increase in total fuel costs of 12.5 percent for airlines. Eurocontrol suggests that some airlines might consequently consider increasing their use of economic tankering, which would threaten the acceleration of the decarbonization of aviation. The increase in costs would also reduce the competitiveness of airlines operating from the EU, therefore requiring what Eurocontrol calls rebalancing measures.

Full fuel hedging at a unique price at all airports an airline operates would present one option to avoid fuel tankering, said the agency.  Another would involve increasing the cost of CO2 allowances to a “dissuasive level,” or potentially equalizing the tax rates on fuel.