Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March of 2020, travel by air and the aviation industry itself have been greatly affected. The closing of international borders and suspension of air travel for an unspecified amount of time caused the industry to lose a lot of its profits. However, in the midst of bad news, it has been discovered that the lack of international travel drastically reduced the carbon footprint typically emitted by aircraft.
Now that we are slowly overcoming the consequences of the pandemic, air travel is gradually coming back. Unfortunately, this poses an understandable risk that the industry’s carbon emissions might return to the upward trend they have been holding since the early 1990s. However, this moment of return presents the industry with a perfect opportunity to address and rethink fossil fuel consumption. And the most obvious and logical way to do so is to promote the use of sustainable aviation fuel.
As it is with anything relatively new on the market, SAF is currently not extremely accessible to consumers. Its price is several times greater than that of regular jet fuel; its production has not been upscaled enough to occupy a significant portion of aviation fuel consumption; and the type of SAF that is more commonly used in the industry at this moment is not sustainable enough to raise its production to an industrial level.
As the aviation sector is a big player in the economy of the European Union, the EU believes it imperative for them to make sure that it becomes more environmentally conscious and less harmful. Therefore, they want to step in and facilitate a transition to more sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel solutions for aviation. They plan to do so through a new initiative they have set forth — ReFuel.
According to the ReFuel initiative, the European Union is set to level out the playing field for aircraft and airlines to use SAF. They believe it is important that they step in to facilitate the upscaling of SAF production and ensure its uptake by airlines. In their initiative, the EU set forth a list of ways they would make SAF more readily available and accessible for use in the industry.
Firstly, it is important for SAF to stop relying on food or crops for its production. Increasing the manufacturing of such fuels will lead to direct competition with food sources needed for human survival. Besides, the indirect land usage and carbon footprint from the production of such fuels will negate their benefits when used as aviation fuel. Instead, the EU promotes a different solution — synthetic aviation fuels which would be ideally made with renewable electricity and carbon pulled out of the atmosphere. The EU is mindful that the production cost of such fuels is currently very high compared to fossil aviation fuels, and so they have taken it on themselves to monetarily support and promote the manufacturing of synthetic aviation fuels.
Secondly, the European Union recognizes the need for airlines to incorporate sustainable aviation fuels as a commonly used fuel option. In order for this to happen, SAF must be just as affordable as fossil aviation fuels, but it must also have very few price discrepancies between different countries as that might lead to practices such as ‘fuel tankering’. The ReFuel initiative, therefore, addresses this problem by creating Union-wide regulations instead of giving each nation the freedom of creating its own pricing policies.
Thus, the EU uses its influence to promote the use of SAF in the aviation industry. As an avid supporter of sustainable aviation fuel solutions, iFuel AG are very supportive of this initiative and are pleased to see governmental aid and regulations helping make the skies greener. Without any help from governmental agencies, it would have been challenging to promote the production of SAF as in the beginning stages of its promotion it is less likely to be readily available to regular consumers.
As SAF’s availability in Europe increases as a result of this initiative, iFuel AG will strive to provide their clients with accessible prices as well as fuel and trip support services to go alongside.