Germany's Scholz aims high on green jet fuel output
(Reuters) - Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday set out Germany's ambitions to become a strategic production center for sustainable jet fuel and to lure investment to build on its importance as one of aerospace group Airbus' manufacturing centers.
Earlier this month, the European Parliament adopted a deal to set binding targets for airlines in Europe to increase their use of sustainable aviation fuels, or SAFs, which have net zero or lower CO2 emissions than the fossil fuel kerosene.
On Monday, German energy firm HH2E announced a joint venture with logistics giant DHL and South Africa's Sasol to explore hydrogen-powered SAF production in Germany. Airbus is considering joining the consortium to use the fuel, HH2E said.
Scholz told delegates at the National Aviation Conference in Hamburg on Monday the EU targets would be challenging for companies and that it was crucial they did not distort competition in the event other non-EU countries have less rigorous targets.
"We have committed ourselves in Germany to the market ramp-up of these fuels," he said.
Referring to the risk of high-emission industries leaving Europe for less regulated regions, he also said Germany was advocating for rules to detect carbon leakage at an early stage.
Industry representatives, including Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, have said reaching the EU targets is not possible on the basis of current SAF production, which is a small fraction of airlines' fuel.
Scholz said Germany was targeting investment via the successor program for Airbus's A320, without going into detail. He also praised the aviation group as a symbol of "European integration in advanced technology".
An Airbus spokesman said the group welcomed Scholz's support for "aviation and its decarbonization trajectory, both in terms of funding but also regulatory support".
The Airbus complex in Hamburg is home to the company's A320 single-aisle family as part of a politically sensitive worksharing agreement with France, where the Franco-German-led planemaker has its headquarters.
After Airbus in July opened a plant for the same series in Toulouse, France, to meet rising demand, Germany is keen to maintain prominence when a new generation of jets enters service around the middle of next decade.