On 6 February, the European Parliament and Council reached a provisional deal on the EU’s Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA). The regulation establishes a framework of measures for strengthening Europe’s net-zero technology products manufacturing ecosystem and aims at boosting the industrial deployment of net-zero technologies needed to achieve EU’s climate goals.
The NZIA aims to ease conditions for investing in green technologies, by simplifying permit-granting procedures and supporting strategic projects. It also proposes to ease market access for strategic technology products, enhance the skills of the European workforce in these sectors (notably through the launching of net-zero industry academies) and create a platform to coordinate EU action in this area.
The NZIA is an important step in creating the necessary ecosystem to boost the manufacturing of clean technologies.Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture
“Europe launched a pathway towards a cleaner and sustainable future for the European industry. Now the time is ripe for Europe to take back the lead on the global scene for clean technologies and to build a competitive, green, and job-creating industrial sector”, Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture commented on the deal.
Included in the NZIA provisions are manufacturers of aviation and maritime fuels who need to “further develop, produce and scale up sustainable alternative fuels in order to significantly contribute to the reduction of the transport sector’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions”. According to the provisional text, “The Union needs to ensure that the regulatory environment and support framework for producers of sustainable aviation and maritime alternative fuels technologies enables them to increase their production capacities across the full fuels value chain, from the collection and supply of feedstock to blending, including conversion and refining capacities.”
While commending the inclusion of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in NZIA, representatives of the European aviation industry, associations for airlines (A4E and ERA), airports (ACI Europe), civil aeronautics (ASD) and air navigation service providers (CANSO), are saying this is only the first step in developing a world leading SAF industry in Europe.
SAFs are a crucial component that will enable European aviation to accelerate its decarbonisation, in full alignment with the bloc’s ambitious climate agenda.Destination 2050 Alliance
“The inclusion of SAF in the NZIA is all the more timely following the release of the EU’s recommendation to update the 2040 climate targets”, the 5 associations, collaborating under the Destination 2050 Alliance, said. “The (…) new target expressly recognised the need to address barriers to SAF deployment at scale, giving the aviation sector priority access to feedstocks and putting incentives in place to close the price gap between SAF and conventional kerosene.”
The alliance points out that an “international race to become a SAF leader has started” and Europe needs to become a global leader in SAF production, but more incentives are needed to reach that goal. Among needed measures, the alliance proposes the extension of the SAF flexibility mechanism beyond 2034; the extension of the current 20 million allowances threshold and 2030 time-limit under the SAF allowances mechanisms; increased financial support for development of SAF, including through the Innovation Fund, as well as the simplification of the administrative procedure for accessing these funds.
Towards reaching a climate neutral aviation industry by 2050, last year, the EU approved the world’s largest SAF mandate, requiring fuel suppliers to ensure that jet fuel is increasingly green. Starting from 2025, at least 2% of aviation fuels used in the EU will have to be green, with the share increasing every five years. From 2030, at least 3% of jet fuels have to be green, 20% from 2035, 34% from 2040, 42% from 2045 and, finally, 70% from 2050.
The blending mandate covers biofuels, recycled carbon fuels and synthetic aviation fuels (e-fuels) in line with the Renewable Energy Directive, but excludes food and feed crops, supporting sustainability objectives. The law also stipulates specific proportions of the fuel mix that have to be synthetic, such as e-kerosene. From 2030, at least 1.2% of fuels need to be synthetic, 2% from 2032, 5% from 2035 and progressively reaching 35% from 2050.