Germany’s first ‘green’ kerosene plant paves way for eco-friendly flights

Politicians hailed the opening of a "green" kerosene plant in Germany on Monday as a step towards decarbonising the airline sector and meeting the country's climate targets.

A passenger flight lands in Frankfurt Airport
A passenger flight lands in Frankfurt Airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The plant in Werlte, northern Germany, is the “first to produce carbon-neutral kerosene on a commercial scale” said Dietrich Brockhagen, the president of Atmosfair, the non-profit organisation behind the project.

“For Germany to become carbon neutral, the airline industry has to make its contribution,” German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said at the inauguration.

The synthetic fuel is made through a combination of hydrogen produced by electrolysis with carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as well as from a biogas plant in the region.

The electricity used for the energy sapping process will come entirely from wind and sun, making the process climate neutral.

Green kerosene represents one means to decarbonise the aerospace sector, which is responsible for two percent of global CO2 emissions, according to the NGO Climate Action Network.

The fuel is 10 times more expensive than normal kerosene and has a long way before becoming a competitive alternative.

Likewise, production at the plant, which will begin in the second half of 2022, will be limited to one tonne a day at first.

German national carrier Lufthansa is among the first clients and has signed a five-year agreement to purchase fuel produced at the plant.

READ ALSO: Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction

“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,” Lufthansa Cargo CEO Dorothea von Boxberg said in a statement.

Germany wants green kerosene to account for 0.5 percent of overall fuel consumption in the airline sector — or around 50,000 tonnes a year – by 2026.

Chancellor Angela Merkel described the opening of the factory as an “important event”.

But Germany’s production capacity would need to be “enlarged significantly” and the green technology developed further to reach its targets, Merkel said in a video message.

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Germany to relax travel restrictions for summer

Germany is set to significantly ease its travel restrictions to enter the country from June 1st until the end of August, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said.

Germany to relax travel restrictions for summer

The so-called 3G rule applies to anyone entering Germany from abroad – and it means travellers over the age of 12 have to show proof of full vaccination, recovery from Covid or a recent negative test. 

Travellers who are transferring at an airport in Germany also have to present proof of their Covid status before arriving in the country. This applies both to non-Schengen transit from or to third countries outside the EU and to transit from or to Schengen states.

However, Health Minister Lauterbach said he planned to temporarily ease this rule from June 1st due to the falling number of Covid infections. 

“Until the end of August, we will suspend the 3G rule on entry,” he told the Funke Mediengruppe newspapers. 

However, the rules for people entering Germany from so-called ‘virus variant areas’ will remain in force. They have to go into a 14-day quarantine on arrival, even if they have been vaccinated or have recovered. However, no country is currently designated as a virus variant region. 

Lauterbach said: “When such areas are defined, people entering the country have to go into quarantine. Even with lower incidences in the summer, we must remain cautious in the event of a global pandemic.” 

Travellers should keep an eye on any risk-level changes to countries they are travelling to Germany from on the Robert Koch Institute’s risk list.

READ ALSO: How Germany’s travel rule changes may affect your holiday plans

Change expected on vaccines

According to German media reports, the amendment to the Covid entry regulations is to be passed by the federal cabinet today.

It also provides for another change – in future all vaccines approved by WHO, not only those approved by the EU, will be recognised upon entry to Germany.

Under the current restrictions, you have to be fully vaccinated to enter Germany if you are coming from most non-EU countries. Unvaccinated people are not allowed to enter unless they have an essential reason.

Germany does, however, allow unrestricted entry for people coming from a small group of ‘safe list’ countries.

This regulation does not apply to German and EU residents.

The Local has asked the German Health Ministry to clarify if the rule on entry from non-EU countries will remain in place. 

Meanwhile, it is worth remembering that the 3G entry rule on coming to Germany still applies until the end of May. Before entering the country, people have to upload or show their Covid documents (proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test) while checking in or before boarding.