Policy update

Alternative transport fuels elements of the European Union’s “Fit for 55” package

Alternative fuels Strategies

The European Commission recently released a number of policy proposals in its “Fit for 55” package, aimed at achieving the European Union’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels. This policy update focuses on the elements of this package related to the promotion of alternative fuels. All of the legislative pieces reviewed here may be amended by the European Parliament and Council and must be approved by those two bodies before they come into force.

The primary changes that the European Commission has proposed for the transport sector in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) are to raise the ambition of the targets, convert the energy target to a GHG intensity target, and introduce a new target for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs). The details of the proposed revisions for the RED II are outlined in the table below.

The ReFuel EU Aviation proposal introduces targets for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and synthetic aviation fuels from 2025 to 2050. Fuels must receive sustainability certification in accordance with the RED II. Food- and feed-based biofuels and RCFs are not eligible to be counted towards these targets. The shares of SAF and synthetic aviation fuels are calculated on a volume basis; this differs from the accounting in the RED II, which is on an energy basis. Unlike the RED II, there is no cap on waste oils and fats in ReFuel EU. Since ReFuel EU is a proposed regulation, not a directive, it is directly binding on obligated parties. Non-compliance will be met with penalties applied by Member States.

The proposal for a FuelEU Maritime regulation introduces GHG intensity reduction requirements for 2025 to 2050. Like ReFuel EU, FuelEU Maritime is a proposed regulation that would be directly binding on ship operators. It applies to all energy used on ships at EU ports of call and on voyages between EU ports of call, as well as half of the energy used on voyages between an EU port and a third country. In addition, the FuelEU Maritime proposal introduces an additional requirement that, starting in 2030, ships must use on-shore power for all energy needs when at berth.

Fit for 55 also proposes to convert the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive into a regulation. The main amendments relevant to renewable fuels are the introduction of mandatory deployment targets for electric charging stations and hydrogen refueling stations for Member States.

Table 1. Summary of major changes to transport fuels in the Renewable Energy Directive


2018 RED II

2021 proposed RED II revision

Renewable energy in transport

14% energy target (out of road and rail fuels)

13% GHG intensity reduction target (out of all energy supplied to transport)

Advanced biofuels (Annex IX part A)

3.5% (out of road and rail fuels, with multiplier)

2.2% (out of all energy supplied to transport, no multiplier)

Renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs)

No target

2.6% (out of all energy supplied to transport)

Waste oils (Annex IX part B)

1.7% cap (out of allenergy supplied to transport)

1.7% cap (out of all energy supplied to transport)

Food- and feed-based biofuels

Cap at whichever is the lower: 7% or 2020 consumption in each Member State + 1% (out of road and rail fuels)

Cap at whatever is lower: 7% or 2020 consumption in each Member State + 1% (out of all transport energy consumption)


  • 2x for advanced biofuels and waste oils

  • 4x for renewable electricity in vehicles

  • 1.2x for aviation and maritime fuels, except food- and feed-based biofuels

  • 1.2x for advanced biofuels and RFNBOs in aviation and maritime