Proposal for Sweden to follow Norway's lead and mandate use of sustainable aviation fuels from 2021
Thu 7 Mar 2019 – A report commissioned by the Swedish government to investigate how GHG emissions can be reduced from aviation has proposed a mandate requiring fuel companies from 2021 to provide airlines refuelling at the country’s airports with a proportion of sustainable aviation fuel. An initial requirement would be for 1% of sustainable aviation fuel be blended with jet kerosene, rising to 5% in 2025 and 30% in 2030. The mandated use of SAF would reduce overall aviation GHG emissions by 0.8% in 2021 and up to 27% by 2030, estimates the report carried out by former Green Party leader Maria Wetterstrand. Norway has recently announced a 0.5% blending mandate in 2020. Finland-based SAF producer Neste, which welcomes the moves, said the market should be able to satisfy the volume demand for both countries.
Neste estimates the 1% Swedish mandate would require around 11,000 tonnes of SAF, rising to 340,000 tonnes in 2030. The company has started producing first commercial-scale volumes of its MY Renewable Jet Fuel made out of waste and residues and recently announced it is to build additional capacity that will enable production up to 1 million tonnes annually by 2022.
The company’s CEO Peter Vanacker congratulated the Wetterstrand proposal. “We need forerunners and courageous countries to lead the way in the sustainable growth of aviation,” he commented. “The announcement sets a clear and bold target, and shows the direction aviation must take in order to reach its emission reduction target. It also creates the necessary predictability in demand for Neste and other renewable jet fuel producers to invest in increasing production.”
Wetterstrand told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that although some people would say her proposal was too weak, because of the limited availability of biofuels it would take time to boost volumes. “We don’t want to set demands we cannot live up to,” she said.
The English-language online publication The Local says Wetterstrand estimates the initial 1% mandate would increase the cost of a flight to Europe by 18 Swedish kronor ($1.90) to cover the extra cost of the SAF if passed on to the passenger and by about 250 kronor ($26) on a long-haul flight in 2030. She said it was important to work with the industry so that airlines did not opt to refuel their planes in other countries.
“If planes choose to tank up on a load of extra fuel to avoid refuelling in Sweden, that would increase emissions because the planes would be heavier, so that would be extremely negative from a climate standpoint,” she said.
Swedish airport operator Swedavia has also offered its support to the Wetterstrand proposal, which it says is a better choice than a passenger tax.
“Effective, long-term policy instruments are needed to reduce the negative climate impact of aviation. Introducing a reduction quota scheme as an alternative to the national aviation tax is thus a step in the right direction since it both reduces emissions and contributes to Swedish, large-scale production of biofuel,” said Swedavia CEO Jonas Abrahamsson. “If Sweden takes the global lead regarding biofuel production, we can create a brand-new industry and many new jobs in Sweden. So it is really positive that the report also highlights this perspective.”
The airport operator has its own target for 5% of jet fuel used at all its 10 Swedish airports to be fossil-free by 2025. Since 2016, it has started purchasing jet biofuel equivalent to the amount of fuel used for the company’s business air travel, around 450 tonnes of fuel annually.
In December, Swedavia refuelled aircraft at five of its airports for a few days with a portion of blended jet fuel derived from used cooking oil.
The Swedish aviation industry has set a goal for domestic air travel to be fossil-free by 2030 and for all air travel in the country to be fossil-free by 2045.