Analysis of the Potential of Meeting the EU’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel Targets in 2030 and 2050

Moaaz Shehab*, Kai Moshammer, Meik Franke, Edwin Zondervan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is anticipated to have a significant impact on decarbonizing the aviation industry owing to its ability to be seamlessly incorporated into the current aviation infrastructure. This paper analyzes the potential of meeting the proposed SAF targets set by the ReFuelEU initiative. The approved SAF production pathways according to ASTM D7566 using renewable bio-based feedstocks were defined and analyzed. Moreover, a detailed matrix for comparison was used to provide an overview of the current state of those pathways. The analysis has shown that hydroprocessed esters of fatty acids (HEFA), alcohol to jet (ATJ), and Fischer–Tropsch (FT-SPK) are the most promising pathways in the foreseeable future due to their high technology readiness and fuel levels. HEFA is the most mature and affordable pathway; therefore, it is expected to form the backbone of the industry and stimulate the market in the short term despite its low sustainability credentials, limited feedstock, and geopolitical implications. On the other hand, FT-SPK can utilize various feedstocks and has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions with around 7.7 to 12.2 gCO2e/MJ compared to the conventional jet fuel baseline of 89 gCO2e/MJ. Overall, the EU has enough sustainable feedstocks to meet the short-term SAF targets using the current technologies. In the long term, the reliability and availability of biomass feedstocks are expected to diminish, leading to a projected deficit of 1.35 Mt in SAF production from bio-based feedstocks. Consequently, a further policy framework is needed to divert more biomass from other sectors toward SAF production. Moreover, a significant investment in R&D is necessary to improve process efficiencies and push new technologies such as power-to-liquid toward commercial operation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9266
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume15
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • Aspen Plus
  • biomass availability
  • CORSIA
  • Fischer–Tropsch
  • jet fuel
  • power to liquid
  • ReFuelEU
  • SAF pathways
  • sustainable aviation fuel

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