French SAF law hand-in-hand with commercial development

Author: Andrew Putwain

2021/04/08

LONDON (ICIS)--France’s incoming sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) law is already seeing sweeping changes to the aviation sector from oil majors. The moves could signal further commercial compliance with the law that could see other stakeholders in oil join changes.

  • France looking to pass ambitious plan
  • Massive swing in aviation to SAF
  • Hopes for green initiatives to kickstart aerospace sector after coronavirus

The production of SAF is set to increase in Europe with two of French oil major Total’s facilities retrofitted to deliver the product.

France proposed a new law, which gives some of the world’s most ambitious targets for the aviation industry to use sustainable oil-alternatives over traditional fossil-based fuels.

The law aims to replace jet kerosene and requires aeroplanes to use at least 1% bio-jet fuel by 2022, 2% by 2025, 5% by 2030 and 50% in 2050 as part of France’s decarbonisation processes.

France’s plan has been mostly praised as innovative in its scope and speed of introduction, which has seen it garner positive reactions. However, some in the sector have criticised the law for not banning the use of Palm Fatty Acid Distillates.

Palm oil and its offshoots remain controversial due to the environmental effects of palm oil manufacturing in parts of Asia, which are tied up in deforestation and pollution.

Total has opened the La Mède biorefinery in southern France and its Oudalle facility near Le Havre in the north of the country.

Total said in a press release that the bio jet fuel will be made from used cooking oil and will begin to be delivered to French airports from April 2021.

“Total will also be able to produce SAF as from 2024 at its zero-crude Grandpuits platform, southeast of Paris,” the company’s press release said.

“All of these sustainable aviation fuels will be made from animal fat, used cooking oil and other waste and residue sourced from the circular economy. Total will not use vegetable oils as feedstock.”

The law has full backing of many of France’s main players in the sector including Airbus, Air France-KLM and Total, the country’s largest oil producer.

Total spent €200m alone converting La Mède from a traditional petroleum refinery to a biorefinery.

It was likely that with major commercial entities backing it as well as robust plan from the French government – in line with EU RED II mandates – that further plans for new refineries or the adaption of current facilities would be likely.