Chiaramonti et al – Role of Lower Carbon Aviation Fuel in decarbonisation of EU aviation sector (2021)

Chiaramonti et al. - Role of Lower Carbon Aviation Fuel in decarbonisation of EU aviation sector (2021)

This paper presents an analysis of the potential impact of fossil-based low carbon aviation fuels (LCAF) for the European aviation sector.

The aviation sector accounted for 3.8% of total CO₂ emissions and 13.9 of total GHG emissions from transport in 2017 at EU-level. The sector should reduce emissions to meet the Paris Agreement. One way to reduce emissions is by increasing the use of LCAF, which is defined in the paper as a fossil-based aviation fuel that features a smaller carbon footprint than conventional kerosene and meets the CORSIA Sustainability Criteria. In the paper, they provide a methodological framework to evaluate the EU technical potential for LCAF production. The savings are compared to two different baselines, dividing between a global carbon intensity (CI) of 89 g CO₂eq/MJ and a more EU-27-specific one of 93.1 g CO₂eq/MJ. The reference jet fuel CI determines the CI reduction that is required to be an eligible LCAF. When comparing with the global carbon intensity, a reduction of 8.1 g CO₂eq/MJ is needed, equal to 10%, while for the EU-reference, a reduction of 13 g CO₂eq/MJ is needed.

A carbon intensity reduction can be achieved through the application of appropriate technologies either at the oilfields of crude extraction (e.g. use of renewable energy, avoidance of venting flaring), or within the refineries boundaries (e.g. CCS, and Green Hydrogen production and use).

The analysis demonstrates that, even if LCAF could offer GHG saving opportunities, their possible impact, especially when compared to the ambition level set in the most recent European legislative proposals, is very limited in most of the analysed scenarios, with the exception of the most ambitious ones. The share of total energy demand for aviation that could be covered by the projected LCAF production technical potential is between 1% and 10%, depending on the considered Baseline.

Based on their definition, LCAF reduce GHG intensity (i.e., g CO₂eq/MJ) of aviation fuels, and therefore, LCAF deployment could support the overall aviation sector decar- bonisation efforts by substituting fossil jet fuel. However, the analysis of the present work concludes that the expected LCAF volumes to be produced (i.e., the LCAF production technical capacity) and come into the market in the 2030 and 2050 horizon, only constitute a minor part of the total aviation fuel volumes needed to cover the projected demand. Therefore, the contribution of LCAF to absolute quantities of GHG reduction (i.e., tonnes of CO₂eq) is reduced, with the exception of the most ambitious scenarios considered for 2050.