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Cleaner skies – Swedish aviation sector to draft fossil-free flight map

The Swedish Ministry of the Environment and Energy has via its initiative "Fossil Free Sweden" (Fossilfri Sverige) tasked the Swedish Air Transport Association (Svensk Flyg) to develop a "flight map" for how Swedish aviation can become fossil-free. The map will show how domestic flights can become completely fossil-free by 2030 and how all flights originating from a Swedish airport can be fossil-free by 2045.

To decarbonise domestic aviation in Sweden would require around 2 TWh per annum of sustainable biofuels. This is approximately 1.5 percent of the annual Swedish bioenergy supply.

The limited size of the aircraft industry means that the fuel switch can go fast when we get large-scale, sustainable production at a reasonable price. If we work together against tough but clear goals, we can reach so much further and so much faster than we can ever imagine. The industry is prepared to invest – we hope that policymakers are prepared to do what it takes, said Henrik Littorin, Swedish Aviation Secretary General, Swedish Air Transport Association and in charge of the drafting the flight map.

The government initiative Fossil Free Sweden works with several Swedish industry sectors to develop industry-specific roadmaps for fossil-free competitiveness. The goal is to identify the opportunities and challenges of the various industries en route to achieving a fossil-free society. The roadmaps, which also contain suggestions on how policy can enable development, will be handed over to the Prime Minister in March this year.

Reaching fossil-free domestic aviation calls for a powerful phasing-in of non-fossil fuels such as sustainable aviation biofuels over the coming years. It also implies a general energy efficiency in several directions along the value chain and continued efforts on electrification wherever possible.

Production technologies for aviation biofuels are available and the physical infrastructure can handle such aircraft today. Alternative sustainable drop-in biofuels, biojet, can be used by current aircraft using the existing refuelling infrastructure. Such sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) can be blended with conventional fuel thus enabling a seamless increase of supply as SAF volumes become available.

Just a handful of refuelling stations would be sufficient to provide all aircraft that start at Swedish airports with SAF. According to the Swedish aviation industry, the key is to get large-scale production of fossil-free aviation fuel off the ground, and much of that hinges on political will and ambition.

Fossil-free domestic aviation would require around 2 TWh per annum of renewable biofuel, which corresponds to approximately 1.5 percent of the annual Swedish bioenergy supply. Prerequisites should be given so that this production can take place in Sweden. It would of course have positive effects both from an economic and security perspective, said Svante Axelsson, national coordinator for Fossil Free Sweden.

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