The European Union will oblige airlines to reduce their polluting emissions and to use a specific percentage of sustainable fuel (SAF) within the ReFuelEU Aviation strategy, which will be progressively deployed between 2025 and 2050. But the production of this fuel is still scarce and expensive, and its use today, anecdotal. That is why some airlines are moving the bill to promote access to fuel. This is the case of Vueling, of the IAG group, which yesterday asked for the involvement of public administrations to produce SAF in Catalonia.
In an event organized at the headquarters of the employer Foment del Treball, the president of Vueling, Marco Sansavini, appealed to the Generalitat to facilitate the creation of sustainable fuel plants in the territory, both through public financing through the use European funds and a regulatory framework to help energy companies get started. The airline has even offered to co-finance the manufacture of SAF in Catalonia, as its parent has already done elsewhere in the world. IAG has so far invested 865 million euros in the purchase and production of sustainable fuel in the United States and the United Kingdom, countries that lead the way in this sector. Members of the Government, political parties and employers and business associations attended the presentation.
"At the moment it is a scarce and very expensive fuel" and only represents 0.05% of total aviation fuel consumption, Sansavini emphasized. Its cost is three to five times higher than kerosene. "The big challenge is to produce more and decide whether the manufacture of this fuel will be done here or in other countries and we will have to import it", he added.
For the company and for the General Secretary of Development, David Tornos, the SAF represents a "great opportunity" for the industrial development of Catalonia. In a study prepared with PwC they estimate that the territory has the capacity to host about four SAF plants that could start construction from 2025 and begin production in 2030. According to their calculations, the SAF industry could generate more than 10,600 million euros in Catalonia's GDP and more than 41,600 direct jobs. But its construction is expensive, around one billion euros per plant depending on the production capacity. That is why they consider that energy companies need incentives.
Aviation is responsible for approximately 3% of global CO2 emissions and the use of SAF allows companies to reduce polluting gases by between 80% and 100%. There are two types of SAF, the organic, produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, biomass or other waste, and the synthetic, generated from the capture of CO2 through the use of green hydrogen. For the companies, it has the advantage that its use can be immediate and does not require changing the current planes.