(07/06/2023 / sbr)

The forest solution for increased ambitions for fossil-free aviation fuel

Political pressure for fossil-free fuel for European aviation is intensifying. This offers a considerable opportunity to SCA’s Renewable Energy business area – and a considerable challenge. “The most fundamental thing to manage the transition from oil, in our sector and many others, is fossil-free electricity and sufficient access to raw materials. This will demand enormous effort and work must be allowed to go faster,” says Mikael Källgren, SCA President Renewable Energy.

The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have reached agreement on greener aviation fuel as part of the EU’s climate package Fit for 55. In short, this involves the greater use of fossil-free fuel and by 2050, 70 per cent of aviation fuel must be renewable. This will require major increases in supply.

SCA is currently working on a project together with ST1 to build a new biorefinery in Gothenburg, where around 200,000 tonnes of liquid biofuel are expected to be produced from SCA’s by-product, pine oil. SCA has also been granted environmental permits for another biorefinery in Timrå, although no investment decision has yet been taken.

“Prevailing political pressure is encouraging the market to step up requirements and create incentives for investment in increased production of green fuel, especially for aviation, which is entirely right. For these projects to get off the ground, however, the extraction of raw materials from forests needs to be supported and you need to create conditions for more fossil-free electricity. Incentives are welcome, but it must also be possible to act on them,” says Källgren.

A major barrier to using existing byproducts from sustainable active forestry management to produce biofuels is energy. This is partly about the distribution of electricity to new facilities where existing networks are often insufficient and lead times for increased network capacity are long. But it is also about a generally increased need for more fossil-free electricity production.

“The Swedish Energy Agency estimates that electricity demand will double by 2035 – an extremely short timeline considering today’s permit processes. Major, long-term investment depends on basic conditions being in place, and that is not the case today. Much more needs to be done,” explains Källgren.

SCA has recently written an article in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter that sets out five proposals to increase electricity production and create conditions for smarter and more efficient use of the best locations for wind power. “These are five relatively simple and at the same time powerful measures that would send a clear signal that policymakers want to make it easier and faster to invest in fossil-free wind power. We believe that these would be good first steps to increasing the pace of the transition and enable investment in more green fuel,” Källgren says.

Photo: Michael Engman