Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Spanish multinational oil and gas firm Compañía Española de Petróleos, S.A.U. (Cepsa), a Mubadala group company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to accelerate the decarbonization of air transport by researching and producing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
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According to a statement, both companies prioritize the development of these sustainable fuels as a tool to further reduce the carbon footprint of air transport and contribute to the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the fight against climate change.
The MoU is in line with the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package, which includes a legislative initiative ‘RefuelEU Aviation’ that aims to boost the supply and demand of aviation biofuels in the European Union to 2 percent use by 2025, 5 percent by 2030 and 63 percent by 2050.
Aviation decarbonization is the biggest challenge facing our industry and the development of commercially viable sustainable aviation fuel is a key requirement to meet the industry sustainability target, said Adam Boukadida, Chief Financial Officer, Etihad Aviation Group.
The partnership, which was announced at the ADIPEC Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE, will also work on the development of new energy alternatives such as renewable hydrogen and the electrification of Etihad’s ground fleets, which include supply vehicles, baggage loading, and unloading operations and aircraft assistance.
Our MoU with Cepsa allows us to tackle the first challenge, building demand for SAF, which in turn encourages further production and increases availability to eventually lower costs and enable further SAF uptake from the wider industry. It’s a snowball effect, which is essential if we’re to overcome the main challenges standing in the way of a commercially viable solution, Adam Boukadida said.
Focus on SAF
As one of the main producers and suppliers of aviation fuels in the Spanish market, this new agreement with a leading airline consolidates Cepsa’s aim to become a leader in the clean energy sector and to spearhead the decarbonization of air transport.
Cepsa aspires to be the leading biofuel producer in Spain and Portugal by 2030 and produce 2.5 million tonnes annually, with a particular focus on the sustainability of air traffic by producing 800 000 tonnes of SAF annually.
These fuels will be produced from circular raw materials that do not compete with food resources, such as used cooking oils (UCO), non-food animal waste, or biodegradable waste from various industries, and will make it possible to reduce aircraft emissions by up to 80 percent compared to conventional kerosene.
Decarbonising air transport is one of the major challenges of our times and Cepsa is committed to playing a critical role in meeting that challenge alongside important partners like Etihad. Partnerships like the one signed today reinforce our determination to transform air travel into a more sustainable mode of transport, said Maarten Wetselaar, CEO of Cepsa.