The partners plan to produce at least 200,000 tonnes of eSAF each year, with hopes to scale up to 500,000 tonnes utilising HH2E electrolysers and Sasol’s Fischer-Tropsch technology.

With a production facility expected to be located in the east of Germany, the companies hope to serve multiple airports including Leipzig/Halle.

DHL Group, as one of largest logistics players operates a network of over 300 aircraft with operations in Germany, the US and Hong Kong. Planning to use at least a 30% of SAF in its air freight business by 2030, the group is expected to be a significant offtaker of the project.

Additionally, the companies have said Airbus could join the project as the aerospace firm strives to meet its goals of using 30% SAF in its internal operations by 2030.

With goals of seeing eSAF production take place in Germany by the end of the decade, the companies have said they will immediately specify technical and financial planning, as well as financing and definition of a regulatory framework.

Hydrogen’s potential to decarbonise aviation has become increasingly apparent in recent years, with 2023 seeing successful fuel cell electric test flights from ZeroAvia, Universal Hydrogen and H2FLY. But SAFs are eyed as a key stepping stone to reduce emissions of existing aircraft fleets.

SAFs are fuels derived from non-fossil sources, including hydrogen, and have been earmarked as a near-term solution for decarbonising aviation, due to the fact they can be dropped into existing aircraft. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), SAFs can reduce emissions by up to 80% during their lifecycle.

The European Commission this year (2023) welcomed an agreement on the ReFuelEU Aviation proposal, which would require fuel suppliers to blend SAF with kerosene from 2025.

Read more: Europe agrees new law to cut aviation emissions and promote SAF

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