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.
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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.
“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.