05 July 2024


The sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) sector is facing challenges as Shell announced a temporary halt to construction at its Rotterdam biofuels facility. This decision comes just before the EU's 2025 mandate requiring aviation fuel at EU airports to contain 2% SAF, increasing annually to 70% by 2050. Shell cited project delivery and competitiveness concerns as reasons for the pause. This delay could impact airlines like KLM, which rely on increased SAF availability to reduce CO2 emissions and lower costs.

The sector welcomed Europe’s SAF mandate in 2023 by the ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation. However, challenges remain. The Commission’s decision to expand the list of eligible feedstocks under Annex IX of the Renewable Energy Directive has incentivized more investment in domestic SAF capacity, but oil majors are still delaying final investment decisions. Global SAF demand is expected to outpace supply by as much as 70% in the coming years. In Europe, the maximum potential SAF production capacity amounts to only 10% of the SAF required to meet ReFuelEU Aviation’s 2030 targets. Additionally, synthetic e-fuel production has seen no investment decisions, and limited SAF quantities will only be delivered to large EU airports, leaving smaller airports without access to SAF.

The aviation industry has been engaging with the European Commission to highlight the need to rapidly scale EU SAF production. CLECAT joined the industry call for the introduction of a 'book and claim' mechanism to boost demand signals and production. This accounting mechanism would allow operators to purchase SAF credits from fuel suppliers, even when physical SAF molecules are not present at a given airport. Equivalent physical SAF molecules paid for by that operator would be uplifted at conventional fuel prices at another airport where SAF is available. There are robust technical solutions available to ensure such a system is fraud-proof and reliable.

For a book and claim system to become an effective tool to scale SAF production and create a true European market for, it needs to be recognised under the EU’s Emissions Trading System so that book and claim SAF purchases can be credited with SAF allowances. CLECAT calls for support for this  policy to help decarbonise aviation.

See also CLECAT policy priorities on Air Freight.