As part of the National Aviation Conference, Sasol Ltd. (Johannesburg, South Africa), DHL Group (Bonn, Germany) and HH2E (Hamburg, Germany) have signed an agreement for the setup of a joint initiative aimed at building potential production capacities for sustainable aviation fuels based on green hydrogen (eSAF) at a suitable location in East Germany.
The global aviation sector is entering a new era driven by decarbonization. eSAF has the potential to help make aviation climate-neutral by the mid-21st century. This initiative cements Germany’s central role in the global aviation sector and as a leader in the development of innovative technologies. It would guarantee access to sustainable fuels of the future and significantly contribute to reducing aviation’s CO2 emissions in Germany. The potential eSAF production facility will be strategically located in East Germany, to conveniently serve airports, including Leipzig/Halle.
The partners’ planning envisages an anticipated production of at least 200,000 tons of eSAF per year, with the potential to scale up to 500,000 tonnes per year. With the initially planned quantity, it is estimated that 632,000 tons of CO2 emissions can be reduced annually. The potential total reduction in CO2 emissions could reach approximately 1.58 million tons when the project achieves its full capacity.
Among the companies collaborating on this project are the world’s largest logistics conglomerate, DHL Group, the rapidly growing German green energy company HH2E AG, and Sasol, the leading company for Fischer-Tropsch technology that enables the production of eSAF. Potentially, the leading global aircraft manufacturer Airbus will also join.
As the world’s leading logistics group, DHL Group operates an extensive express network with over 300 aircraft and maintains air cargo hubs at Leipzig/Halle Airport, Germany, in Cincinnati, USA, and in Hong Kong. In its sustainability roadmap, the conglomerate has committed to using more than 30 % SAF blends in its air freight business by 2030. DHL Group is expected to be a significant offtaker of the eSAF produced through this joint project. The potential eSAF production facility will be strategically located in eastern Germany, ensuring convenient supply to airports, including Leipzig/Halle.
HH2E is emerging as a trailblazer in Germany’s green energy sector. Leveraging cutting-edge technologies, the company can transform intermittent inputs from renewable energy—especially excess power from solar and wind sources—into a consistent green hydrogen output. This hydrogen can subsequently be employed as a raw material for eSAF production. By 2030, HH2E intends to establish a green hydrogen production capacity of 4 GW in Germany, representing a multi-billion-euro investment. HH2E has already announced plans for two major facilities: one in Lubmin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and the other in Thierbach, close to Leipzig, Saxony. Additionally, the company has identified 15 prime locations across Germany for green hydrogen production, with a notable focus on the eastern region.
Sasol is a global integrated chemical and energy company, renowned for its expertise in Fischer-Tropsch technology, licensing, and operations. Sasol’s Fischer-Tropsch technology is optimally tailored for the large-scale production of sustainable fuels and chemicals. This includes sustainable aviation fuels through the power-to-liquids (PtL) process, which employs hydrogen generated from renewable electricity paired with biogenic carbon dioxide from eco-friendly sources.
Airbus pioneers sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world and constantly innovates to provide efficient and technologically-advanced solutions in aerospace, defence, and connected services. In commercial aircraft, Airbus offers modern and fuel-efficient airliners and associated services. Under its sustainability strategy the company aims at using 10 % SAF for its internal operational purposes already this year with the goal of extending the use of SAF to 30 % in 2030.
With the goal of realizing an eSAF production in Germany by 2030, the involved companies will immediately specify the technical and financial planning, as well as the financing and definition of the regulatory framework.
A project of this magnitude and complexity, representing investments in the billions, promises significant benefits for climate protection, economic growth, job creation, and technological advancement for Germany and Europe. For successful implementation, it is necessary that the European Union, the German federal and state governments now shape the framework conditions in such a way that the necessary private investments are made.