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IATA reports important progress in the development of aviation electrofuels

18th March 2024

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The first two months of this year saw significant developments regarding the category of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) known as electrofuels, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported, in its latest 'Fly Net Zero Media Update' report. IATA is the global representative body for the airline industry.

Electrofuels, or e-fuels, or e-SAF, are liquid or gaseous fuels produced using clean energy sources, such as (but not limited to) renewables, with carbon dioxide (or carbon monoxide) and water as the feedstocks. Like SAF produced from biomass, they are ‘drop-in’ fuels that do not require any significant modification to either aircraft or engines.

Anglo-Spanish multinational International Airlines Group (IAG), owner of British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus and LEVEL, has made e-fuels the subject of its biggest SAF order to date. This was for e-SAF from US specialist electrochemical carbon transformation company Twelve, produced from carbon dioxide, water and renewable energy. The contract will run for 12 years and under it, Twelve will supply IAG with 785 000 metric tons of e-SAF.

“IAG is the first European airline group to announce an e-SAF deal, and the agreement increases its 2030 committed supply from 25% to 33%,” highlighted IAG Group head of sustainability Jonathon Counsell. “This deal brings the scale-up of e-SAF, produced using power-to-liquid technology, one step closer to reaching its full potential in the aviation industry. This is important because e-SAF does not face feedstock limitations, has a high degree of emissions reduction versus conventional jet fuel and has a relatively low land and water-use footprint.”

In Norway, low-cost carrier Norwegian has become a co-owner of Norsk e-Fuel, founded in 2019 to help push the transition to sustainable aviation. Norwegian’s buy-in followed the conclusion of a strategic partnership agreement between the two companies last year. Norsk e-Fuel planned to build the world’s first large-scale e-fuel production plant, with construction starting in 2025 and production commencing after 2026.

Meanwhile, world-leading Finnish sustainable fuels and renewable feedstocks producer Neste announced that it and partner companies had successfully concluded a three-year e-fuel research project. The project had demonstrated technologies for high-temperature electrolysis, carbon capture and hydrocarbon synthesis and had accelerated progress towards the commercial-scale production of these fuels. (Neste has also signed a deal with French regional airline Amelia, to supply the carrier with SAF.)

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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