Repsol and Iberia complete first flight using SAF from waste
Photo courtesy of Repsol

Repsol and Iberia complete first flight using SAF from waste

Repsol and Iberia have completed the Madrid–Bilbao route with sustainable aviation fuel produced from waste at Repsol’s Petronor Industrial Complex in Spain. The flight was operated with an Iberia Airbus  A320neo, one of the Spanish airline company’s most efficient aircrafts.

The low-carbon footprint flight is a further step towards the decarbonization of the aviation sector. It has resulted in a reduction in emissions of 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). 

The scheduled flight IB 426 was operated with an Airbus A320neo aircraft of the Spanish airline, with a capacity of 180 passengers and currently one of the most efficient  aircrafts in the world. Equipped with Leap-1st CFM engines, Iberia’s A320neo aircrafts reduce noise by 50% and are more environmentally friendly, emitting 5,000 tons of CO2 less per year and 50% less NOx.  The flight also performed more efficiently through a flight operation that improves fuel efficiency by reaching the optimum altitude level in the climb and descent phases.  

In  addition, a zero-emissions electric-powered aviation fuel supply vehicle was used for refueling. All  ground operations (loading and unloading of baggage, assistance to the aircraft, and towing to the runway) used the most efficient vehicles that Iberia Airport Services has deployed throughout its network of  airports in Spain, such as the mototok, an advanced electric vehicle controlled by remote control to perform  the push back maneuver to the aircraft. On board, Iberia is also testing different packaging solutions to  replace single-use plastics. 

The batch of jet biofuel used is the third manufactured by Repsol and the first on the Spanish market  produced from waste as raw material. The Spanish energy company thus integrates circular economy instruments in the process, transforming waste into high added-value products such as low carbon footprint fuels. Two previous batches were produced from biomass at Repsol’s industrial complexes in Puertollano and Tarragona. 

First initiative in collaboration agreement

This is the first initiative arising from the collaboration agreement towards a more sustainable mobility signed by Repsol and Iberia last July, which includes the development of low-carbon  aviation fuels.  

In this operation, Iberia and REPSOL have counted with the participation of Aena that works collaboratively  with the different agents to promote the global decarbonization of the air transport sector. It supports this  initiative by also working on collaborative projects to promote the production of sustainable fuels, with the  aim of encouraging its use by airlines.

The aviation sector is moving decisively towards decarbonization through the use of biofuels. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has set itself the target of zero carbon emissions growth from 2020,  for which it is developing various initiatives. Among these, the use of different sustainable fuels, such as  biofuels and advanced biofuels produced from waste, stands out for its high contribution to the reduction of CO2 emissions. 

On July 14, the European Commission presented the Fit for 55 package, which includes the RefuelEU  Aviation initiative. Its aim is to boost the supply and demand of sustainable aviation fuels in the European  Union, reaching a use of 2% in 2025, 5% in 2030, and 63% in 2050. In this way, the environmental footprint  of aviation will be reduced, while contributing to the achievement of the European Union’s climate targets. 

Repsol is a pioneer in the manufacture of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in Spain. With the production of  these fuels in its industrial complexes, it is anticipating the different measures that EU institutions are establishing to promote the use of sustainable aviation fuels. In this sense, both sustainable aviation obtained from biomass  and advanced biofuels from waste are included in the list of sustainable fuels in the European Renewable  Energy Directive (RED).