European commercial aviation is based in SAF

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These days are Connecting Europe Days, the emblematic event of mobility in Europe, which takes place in Lyon, France. The event is organized by European Commission in collaboration with the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The event kicked off on June 28 with a conference at the airport Lyon-Saint Exupéry which we also took part in, thanks to the invitation of Wizz Air. On this occasion, Wizz Air marked the operation of the first "green" flight, Lyon - Bucharest, using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

SAF is the most publicized alternative fuel

But this flight was not unique. On June 28, no less than 11 flights, operated by Air France, KLM, Easyjet, Wizz Air, Transavia, Vueling and Lufthansa, were powered by this sustainable aviation fuel.

At this time, European commercial aviation is laying the foundations for SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuels) to reduce CO2 emissions. Obviously it is difficult to reach Zero CO2 emissions by 2050, and Joel Navaron, Director of Aviation TotalEnergies made a joke and said: zero-emission fuel is the fuel we do not consume.

In order for aviation to reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible, it is going in two directions. All eyes are on the new planes and the new generations of aircraft. According to the manufacturers, state-of-the-art aircraft will have reduced fuel consumption by up to 20%, which means a reduction in CO2 emissions by up to 20% on equivalent traffic.

The other direction is fuel and the search for alternatives. It is desired that the aviation give up the kerosene obtained from oil and to go more on the alternative variants. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is the most publicized fuel. According to estimates, in 2025 it will be possible to produce 5 billion liters of SAF, the equivalent of 2% of global consumption. As a comparison, in 2021 only 125 million liters of SAF were produced, the equivalent of 0.1% of consumption.

Fuel supply to a Wizz Air plane - Lyon airport (PHOTO: Andreea Litescu)

"SAF is today the most suitable solution for reducing the carbon footprint of airlines.”JOEL NAVARON, DIRECTOR TOTALENERGIES AVIATION

The SAF used on June 28 came from TotalEnergies, obtained from its biorefinery in La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhône) and its factory in Oudalle (Seine-Maritime). SAF is obtained from used cooking oil that is mixed with 30% fossil fuel (traditional) Jet-A1. Sustainable aviation fuel, which was used on special flights on 28 June, has made it possible to reduce the CO2 emissions of these flights by almost 27%.

Unfortunately, it will be many months before SAF is available at a significant number of airports. European legislation is also working in this direction, with proposals for funding for sustainable aviation. At the moment, SAF is much more expensive than traditional fuel, and the authorities aim to reduce the price gap between kerosene and SAF.

In Romania, OMV Petrom to start production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at Petrobrazi. It is possible that from this year, SAF will also be available at Romanian airports. Logistically speaking, there is still a long way to go until SAF is easy to produce, transport, store and supply.

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