Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is the umbrella term for all aviation fuels that, unlike conventional kerosene, are produced without the use of fossil feedstocks such as crude oil and also meet sustainability criteria. There are various processes for the production of SAF - both with biogenic and non-biogenic feedstocks.
SAF is a genuine alternative to fossil aviation fuel and essential for the energy transition in aviation. Compared to conventional kerosene, SAF has a significantly reduced carbon footprint; for SAF made from biogenic residues, the reduction is around 80 %. The SAF currently used by the Lufthansa Group is produced from biogenic residues, for example from used cooking oils.
The Lufthansa Group is one of the five largest buyers of SAF worldwide and is investing up to USD 250 million in the procurement of SAF for the coming years. In addition, the Lufthansa Group is continuously reviewing options for long-term SAF partnerships.
However, the amount of SAF currently available on the global market is not yet sufficient for large quantities to be used in flight operations, and the price of SAF is significantly higher than that of fossil kerosene. Only about 0.1 percent of the industry's global fuel requirements can currently be met with SAF. The Lufthansa Group is therefore actively involved in numerous projects to drive market ramp-up and thus the availability of SAF.
In 2022, the Lufthansa Group used approximately 13,000 tons of SAF. This was just under 0.2 percent of the Lufthansa Group's total fuel demand (7.6 million tons) and about 5 percent of the SAF available worldwide.
Next generation Sustainable Aviation Fuel
The Lufthansa Group is involved in several projects to accelerate the development and industrialization of the next generation of SAF. The focus here is on the forward-looking Power-to-Liquid (PtL) and Sun-to-Liquid (StL) technologies.
The Power-to-Liquid (PtL) technology uses renewably generated electricity, water and CO2 (from the atmosphere) to create a syngas from which SAF can be produced. PtL aviation fuels are currently still in the development stage towards industrial production.
The Lufthansa Group is a partner and pilot customer of one of the world's first plants for the production of PtL crude oil in Werlte, Germany, which opened in October 2021. The crude oil is ultimately processed by a refinery into eFuel for aviation. The plant is operated by the climate protection organization atmosfair.
The Sun-to-Liquid (StL) process is an innovative technology for producing SAF from high-temperature solar heat, water and CO2 from the atmosphere. The Lufthansa Group and SWISS have agreed on a strategic partnership with the Swiss company Synhelion for the market launch of Sun-to-Liquid fuel. SWISS plans to fly with the first quantities of this solar fuel in 2024 - as the first airline worldwide.
The Lufthansa Group has been committed to researching, testing, and deploying SAF for more than ten years and has built up an extensive network of partnerships. As early as 2011, Lufthansa tested SAF in regular flight operations for about six months. The result of the long-term testing was that it can be used without modification to the aircraft and without infrastructure adjustments. This is an enormous advantage of this technology.