Oslo-based Bellona Foundation has calculated that following the new ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation, announced by the European Commission at the end of April, a significant amount of renewable electricity would be needed for the production of sustainable aviation fuels.
According to Bellona’s calculations, if Europe is to replace a total 70% of its aviation fuels with sustainable alternatives, this would require approximately 1300-1500 TWh of renewable electricity, based on 2018 jet fuel consumption of 62.8 million tons.
However, in 2021 renewable electricity generation in Europe from sources such as wind, solar, and hydro was only 900 TWh, or 32.8% of the total electricity generation, Bellona noted in a recent publication.
This means that in order to meet the requirements under the new regulation the EU would need to add at least 1.5 times more renewables to the system just for the purpose of jet fuels production.
According to Bellona, this is also indicative of the need to expand the conversation around sustainability in aviation, notably by discussing how significantly reducing the overall air traffic in Europe could help reach achievable amounts of sustainable fuels.
The organization also noted that the production of electrofuels, or e-fuels, requires carbon, and the actual climate impact of this solution depends on how it is sourced.
“The ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation will encounter numerous reality checks along the way and should be seen with a far more critical eye than what is currently present in the debate,” Bellona concluded.
The new EU regulation is aimed at decarbonizing Europe’s aviation sector by introducing a requirement for fuel suppliers to blend sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with kerosene in increasing amounts from 2025.
This is expected to cut aircraft carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around two-thirds by 2050 compared to a ‘no action’ scenario, according to the European Commission.
The Bellona Foundation is an independent nonprofit whose aim is to meet and fight the climate challenges by identifying and implementing sustainable environmental solutions.