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On 7 July, the European Parliament adopted the report to increase the uptake of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, setting mandatory blending targets from2025.
The original proposal from the European Commission would force aircraft refuelling at EU airports to uplift a blend of traditional jet fuel and Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), with blending targets increasing over the years up to 63% by 2050, with an additional sub-target of 28% for synthetic aviation fuels. According to the proposal, Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origin (RFNBOs) fall within the definition of synthetic fuels, but hydrogen in its pure form does not.
Hydrogen Europe had already warned that hydrogen should be included in the scope of SAFs to ensure the full decarbonisation of aviation in the medium to long term. Hydrogen Europe had also called for a sub-target for synthetic fuels from 2025, together with dedicated financial support to give the industry the necessary investment signal. This was included in a position paper and reiterated in an industry letter addressed to the EU Transport Ministers in May 2022.
In a historic vote for the aviation industry, the above policy asks were eventually included in the approved draft regulation, as follows:
- The inclusion of renewable hydrogen in the definition of synthetic fuels,
- The introduction of a sub-target for synthetic fuels from 2025 (0,04%),
- The creation of a Sustainable Aviation Fund to support the development of new technologies.
It is also worth noting that targets are minimum quota: Member States can adopt national measures, supporting policies and initiatives that aim to increase the production levels of SAF in their territory. Airlines and fuel suppliers can pursue more ambitious environmental policies with higher SAF uptake.
Overall, Hydrogen Europe welcomes the outcome of the vote and is pleased that the European Parliament has taken concrete steps towards the decarbonisation of a hard-to-abate sector. Synthetic aviation fuels can be scaled up sustainably and will play a key role in the coming years. The inclusion of hydrogen is also a clear encouragement for the small but rapidly growing zero-emission aviation industry.
The European Parliament, Council and Commission delegations will now enter interinstitutional negotiations; Hydrogen Europe will work closely with the industry and policymakers to ensure that the ambition of the European Parliament is not watered down in the final agreement.