Royal NLR, Netherlands Aerospace Centre – Feedstocks for sustainable aviation fuels in the Netherlands (2021)

Royal NLR, Netherlands Aerospace Centre – Feedstocks for sustainable aviation fuels in the Netherlands (2021)

A report of the Royal NLR – Netherlands Aerospace Centre gives a review of feedstock sustainability and availability and identification of knowledge gaps for policy making.

Given the fact that the aviation’s carbon footprint needs to be reduced in order to meet Paris Climate Agreement and European Green Deals, the aerospace industry is exploring various measures to reduce emissions. One of the possibilities is sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), which total potential depend on the availability of feedstocks: biomass for biofuels and renewable energy for e-fuels. In this paper, literature was reviewed to identify the availability of this feedstock.

The key take-aways of this research are (taken from the Document):

  • The availability of feedstocks for biofuels in the Netherlands in 2050 is expected to be far lower than the range of demand for aviation. Even this number of 35 PJ may be too optimistic, as other industries than aviation may claim these freely available and additional resources.
  • Based upon a proportionate fraction of the excess biomass that France, Sweden, Germany and Ukraine are expected to have in 2050, it seems that trade within the EU could cover the national deficit. However, sustainability of transporting feedstocks, dependency on other countries for fuel and willingness of those countries to trade must be taken into account. Therefore, this option is less desirable than national production, but can be fallen back upon if necessary to achieve climate targets.
  • If the forecast excess renewable electricity available in the Netherlands in 2050 is completely allocated to production of synthetic fuels for aviation, projected demands could largely be met. This holds for production of synthetic fuels both via direct air capture and recycled carbon. If and to what extent excess renewable electricity will be available to aviation is currently unclear. If this is substantially lower than 100%, it might not be possible to cover the aviation fuel demand.
  • In order to obtain a reliable forecast of the availability of SAF for aviation, future allocation of renewable energy, specifically biomass and renewable electricity, must be addressed. Until this is done, results must be interpreted cautiously.