The decarbonization of the transport sector is a key challenge within the context of the energy transition and is one of the major objectives of Eni’s roadmap towards carbon neutrality. In line with the Paris Agreement on climate change commitments, speeding up this process means developing sources of renewable energy that can minimise direct CO2 emissions. By its very nature, this transformation will have to involve every aspect of the production chain and can only be achieved by reducing waste and finding ways to reuse waste materials, as well as through ideas and innovative technologies designed to make products that are both sustainable and effective.
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Towards Carbon Air Transport
Eni's contribution to improving sustainable mobility, also through Eni Sustainable Mobility (Italian version), a company 100% controlled by Eni, does not stop at the land transport sector – it also encompasses the aviation sector. Air transport is crucial for growth and development today, but it is also one of the sectors that poses the greatest concern in emissions terms. According to the IEA's Tracking Aviation Report (2020), the aviation sector is responsible for 2.8% of the world's fossil CO2 emissions and, due to the increase in travellers and commercial traffic, the sector is among the fastest growing sources of emissions: in the last twenty years emissions from aviation have grown by almost 130%, and in 2050 they are expected to increase at a rate 7 to 10 times higher than in 1990. While the pandemic may have played a limited role in reducing emissions, it is also the case that the debate on clean skies is beginning to move up the climate agenda, with initiatives ranging from the 2019 European Green Deal and Cop26 to the recent ReFuel EU Aviation proposal, part of the “Fit for 55” package, and the USA’s “SAF Grand Challenge” Memorandum of Understanding (MoU signed between THE U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
Under this perspective, there are a number of solutions that could help cut emissions further, ranging from aircraft restyling to engine improvements, although replacing aircraft only seems a viable solution over the long term; in the short to medium term, hybrid solutions will inevitably be the easiest to implement: introducing biofuels is therefore the most concrete and immediate scenario for the decarbonization of aviation today. While we wait for advances in hydrogen technologies and e-fuels, which over time will also be suitable for air transport, the production of sustainable fuel represents our most practical and immediate hope for the decarbonization of the aviation sector.
Eni has thus started the production of the first sustainable aviation fuel by processing waste raw materials and not competing with the food chain.
In September 2022, ITA Airways' new Airbus A350 with light blue livery dedicated to the legendary Enzo Ferrari made its first flight with the Eni Biojet SAF at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, blazing the trail for the Frecce Tricolori at the start of the race.
Eni Biojet contains a 100% bio component and is produced solely from waste raw materials, animal fats and used vegetable oils.
Eni Biojet has been tested in research laboratories, and is the first exclusive batch of SAF to come out of Eni's Livorno refinery. Production is carried out in synergy with the Eni bio-refinery in Gela where bio-naphtha is produced and then distilled in Livorno.
In 2024, SAF production is expected to start at the Gela and Venice bio-refineries. Both plants are awaiting authorisations for two projects that will allow us to produce over 200 tonnes/year of Eni Biojet from renewable raw materials.
Innovation and partnerships to help sustainable mobility
However, to drive a step change in the energy transition. Real technological innovation must also take place. And, in this respect, Eni’s past and present projects all focus on one objective: the decarbonization of all company products and processes by 2050, including for the transport sector.
In development initiatives it is important to establish alliances with partners capable of supporting long-term actions. This is also the background to the hydrogen mobility project carried out in partnership with Air Liquide. Its aim is to join forces and invest in infrastructure to develop the hydrogen supply chain in Italy for the heavy and light mobility market. Similarly, the collaboration with the Aeroporti di Roma group (a precursor to a series of agreements with leading operators in transport infrastructure management), aims to create synergies that encourage the development and increasing use of sustainable fuels in the mobility land and aviation sector.
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