Germany opens first plant to produce carbon-neutral kerosene

Germany opens first plant to produce carbon-neutral kerosene

Germany opens first plant to produce carbon-neutral kerosene

Germany has opened its first “green” kerosene plant. Kerosene is widely used to fuel planes and other aircraft and has been touted as an important step in Germany’s fight against climate change.

Germany’s green Kerosene plant

On Monday, the non-profit organisation Atmosfair opened Germany’s first “green” kerosene plant in the town of Werlte in Lower Saxony. According to the president of Atmosfair, Dietrich Brockhagen, the plant is the “first to produce carbon-neutral kerosene on a commercial scale.” The move has been hailed as an important step in decarbonising the aviation sector and meeting Germany’s climate targets.

Synthetic kerosene is also known as e-kerosene or power-to-liquid (PtL) and can be mixed with conventional fuel to reduce emissions from flights. Atmosfair produces e-kerosene through a process that combines hydrogen, generated through electrolysis, with carbon dioxide taken from the air, as well as from a nearby biomass plant. The electricity for this process is generated through wind turbines and solar panels, making it entirely climate neutral.

The output of this process is then mixed with regular kerosene and then taken to the airport in Hamburg to fuel flights. Atmosfair expects to produce eight barrels (which equates to about one ton) of synthetic kerosene a day in 2022.

Decarbonising the aviation industry

E-kerosene is what is known as a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which are mainly biofuels made from sustainable sources. Technically, plane engines can run using 50 percent sustainable fuel. However, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), SAFs currently only make up about 0,1 percent of the total fuel used in aviation globally.

In an effort to start the process of decarbonising the industry, Germany has set a target of replacing 0,5 percent of the 10 million tonnes used by the German aviation industry each year with e-kerosene. The target has been set for the year 2026 and, by 2030, this figure should be at 2 percent. “For Germany to become carbon neutral, the airline industry has to make its contribution,” German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said. The aerospace sector is responsible for 2 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.

German airline Lufthansa has already signed a five-year deal for fuel produced at the plant. “We see the key to a sustainable reduction in our emissions in the sector very clearly in the research and use of synthetic, sustainable air fuels,” said Lufthansa Cargo CEO Dorothea von Boxberg.

The cost of e-kerosene

E-kerosene is incredibly energy-intensive, requiring large amounts of hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen and carbon dioxide are produced through sustainable, renewable sources and if Germany wanted to power all of its domestic flights using e-kerosene, it would take more renewable energy than its currently able to produce. E-kerosene is also a lot more expensive than conventional fuel, currently costing around four to five times as much.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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