Flying high on sustainable fuels

Demand for sustainable fuels is expected to increase as the world aims to achieve decarbonization targets. Partner Ole Rolser and coauthors note that the use of sustainable fuels could grow significantly across sectors, even in the hard-to-abate transportation segments. In aviation, for instance, sustainable aviation fuels may be the only option to replace fossil fuels in wide-body long-distance planes, since hydrogen and battery options are still in early stages of development.

Sustainable fuels are expected to fill gaps in decarbonization and complement electrification.

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Five area graphs project the energy supply mix from 2019 to 2050 for the EU-27 and the UK across 5 sectors, showing the share of fossil fuels and their replacements over time. For the maritime sector, fossil fuels drop from ~100% of the mix to ~20% by 2050. For aviation, they drop from 100% to ~30%. For buildings and industry, they drop from ~50% to ~20%. For passenger cars and commercial vehicles, they are completely replaced. Another 5 area graphs below project total energy demand from 2019 to 2050 for each sector.

Source: McKinsey Energy Solutions’ Global Energy Perspective 2023; McKinsey Sustainable Fuels Demand Model.

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To read the article, see “Global Energy Perspective 2023: Sustainable fuels outlook,” January 10, 2024.