European Capacity Building Initiative

ecbi Discussion Note highlights key longer-term role of synthetic aviation fuels in achieving net-zero aviation emissions by 2050


A new ecbi Discussion Note, entitled Sustainable Aviation Fuels - The Way Forward: From Biological to Synthetic Fuels, focuses on the key role Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) play in meeting the aviation industry’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.  

SAFs are “drop in” fuels that replace fossil-based fuels (kerosene) without the need to change aircraft engines or fuelling infrastructure. Synthetic SAFs, while today accounting only for a tiny proportion of jet fuel, could in the coming decades replace all kerosene in the aviation sector, as explained in the Discussion Note.

More specifically, the Note: 

  • makes the case for SAFs, arguing that they are now the key to achieving the net-zero target;
  • introduces the main SAF technologies pathways, namely biofuels and synthetic fuels (e-fuels and solar fuels), along with their strengths, weaknesses, and prospects;
  • reviews cost reduction potential, noting that synthetic fuels are the most expensive now but have the potential to be competitive, sustainable, and scalable;
  • identifies key barriers to SAF development, in particular the enormous investment required to achieve the required scale; and
  • argues that the key to developing SAFs is policy frameworks that support research and investment from public, private, and charitable sources.

Energy in Demand, a weekly review of the low-carbon energy transition, has published the note on its website as well.

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