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Biofuels & Oils

Spanish aviation stakeholders partner to develop SAF production

Two major Spanish aviation stakeholders have announced that they are joining forces to jointly develop and produce sustainable aviation biofuels (SAF) on a large scale from waste, recycled used oils, and other sustainable plant-based feedstocks. The agreement also contemplates other alternative energy sources such as renewable hydrogen and electricity to promote sustainable mobility in aircraft and ground fleets.

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On January 24, 2022, the Chairmen of Iberia and Iberia Express and the CEO of Cepsa signed an agreement to help decarbonize the national airline industry through R&D into sustainable fuels and other alternative energies such as renewable hydrogen and electricity (photo courtesy Cepsa).

On January 24, 2022, Spanish national air carrier Iberia L.A.E. (IBERIA), its subsidiary Iberia Express, and compatriot oil, gas, and energy major Compañía Española de Petróleos, S.A.U. signed an agreement to help decarbonize the national airline industry through R&D into sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and other alternative energies such as renewable hydrogen and electricity with the aim of promoting sustainable mobility for aircraft and the fleet of airport ground vehicles.

The agreement includes SAF research and flight testing, and for all three companies, the development of SAF is a priority for moving towards an increasingly low-carbon industry and contributing to the achievement of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda.

Cepsa is working on an ambitious plan to green all its businesses and become an industry leader in the energy transition. In addition, the company has extensive experience in this field: it has been producing biofuels in its refineries for more than a decade and is developing pioneering studies worldwide to convert waste and used oils into fuels with a high energy value.

This alliance illustrates our commitment to sustainability and our strong resolve to support our customers by providing them with viable solutions that accelerate their energy transition. As a leader in the supply of fuels to the airline industry, we share with the Iberia Group the common goal of promoting the decarbonization of transport as a tool in the fight against climate change, said Maarten Wetselaar, CEO of Cepsa

Net-Zero commitment

As part of the International Airlines Group (IAG), Iberia and Iberia Express have committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and to operate a minimum of 10 percent of their flights with sustainably sourced fuels by 2030.

To achieve this, the Iberia Group is focusing its environmental strategy on three areas:

  • more efficient operations including fleet renewal plans, reducing fuel consumption, and using electric ground vehicles, among others;
  • a more sustainable travel experience for customers through the digitalization of services, the progressive elimination of plastics onboard, improving waste management, and carbon footprint offsetting;
  • commitment to the ecological transition of aviation, especially by collaborating in the research and development of SAF.

To decarbonize the aviation sector, the development, production, and distribution of sustainably sourced fuels at affordable prices and in sufficient quantity to supply airlines is essential. We are confident that this agreement with Cepsa will contribute to that goal, said Javier Sanchez-Prieto, Iberia’s Chairman and CEO.

For its part, Iberia Express, as a short and medium-haul low-cost airline within the Iberia Group, will also support the transition to alternative jet fuel sources as part of this initiative.

It is time to create synergies between companies that have the same objective: developing our business and operations while minimizing our environmental impact. This agreement is an important step on our path towards more sustainable air transport, in line with our joint commitment to the decarbonization of the sector, said Carlos Gómez, CEO of Iberia Express.

SAF has a key role

SAF has a key role to play in the decarbonization of tourism and air transport. Compared to conventional fuel, SAF can reduce aviation emissions by up to 80 percent over conventional kerosene during its life cycle, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Other benefits include boosting the circular economy, increasing energy independence (and with it the security of supply), and ensuring an important driver of the Spanish economy (200,000 quality jobs). In addition, these fuels can be used immediately with existing supply infrastructures and without the need for fleet renewals.

This agreement between Cepsa and the Iberia Group is in line with the European Commission’s Fit for 55 climate package, which includes a legislative initiative called ‘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.

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