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Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR)

The information provided on this page is based on the European Commission Proposal dated July 2021. Key elements are subject to change before the definitive measures are adopted.

Ensuring that the transition to renewable and low-carbon fuels is supported by the necessary infrastructure

The EU’s Fit for 55 proposal is its most ambitious proposed legislation towards establishing a greener, low carbon economy.

The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID) is being revised as part of the Fit for 55 proposed measures and revamped as a regulation (AFIR) to ensure that:

  • Member states adopt appropriate GHG reduction measures of equal ambition
  • The adoption of renewable and low-carbon fuels (RLF) is not constrained by a lack of recharging and refueling infrastructure

The AFIR revision will work hand in hand with the FuelEU Maritime legislation and the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). These three measures are essential to trigger the development of policies for the rollout of alternative fuels infrastructure in EU member states.

What does AFIR impact?

  • EU sea and inland ports
  • EU member states

Key dates

  • January 2025: Deadline for submission of national policy frameworks (NPF) by EU member states
  • 2025-2030: Potential mandatory onshore power supply (OPS) for inland and seaports

In addition to technical specifications for OPS, AFIR will include specifications for hydrogen, methanol, ammonia and LNG bunkering.

What does TEN-T mean?

The TEN-T is part of the EU’s larger Trans-European Networks infrastructure plan. While other Networks target telecommunications and energy systems, TEN-T plans to implement the infrastructure for a transportation network including, road, rail, air and waterways.

To provide integrated long-distance, high-speed transportation, TEN-T aims to improve:

  • Key roads
  • Railways
  • Inland waterways
  • Airports
  • Seaports
  • Inland ports

AFIR will ensure the proper provisions for RLF coverage in the TEN-T network.

What is AFIR?

In 2016, AFID mandated that member states must adopt and submit NPFs to the EU Commission, including national targets for deploying RLF infrastructure. While that version of AFID contained provisions for maritime and inland LNG infrastructure, the requirements for hydrogen were left at the discretion of member states.

  • Still under discussion at EU Parliament-level, the measures that have been retained for the AFIR update are currently being discussed. The key points are the following: Inland TEN-T core ports must have one OPS installation per port by 2025 or 2030
  • Maritime TEN-T core ports must provide one OPS installation in terminals receiving cruise, container and Ro-Pax vessels over 5,000 GT by 2030; OPS could cover 90% of demand for terminals receiving cruise, container and Ro-Pax vessels over 5,000 GT by 2030
  • A single solution for shore-side battery recharging points for maritime and inland waterways vessels
  • Hydrogen, methanol and ammonia refueling points
  • Possible removal of the current requirement for LNG bunkering in TEN-T core ports

Who will enforce AFIR? How will it impact ports and ship operators?

Once AFIR is adopted, member states will have to update their NPFs and resubmit them by January 2025.

Ports, both maritime and inland, will need to invest in OPS infrastructure, requiring increased support from public authorities. They will also need to plan a long-term fuel-mix strategy to ensure they plan to integrate the relevant technology.

Ship operators will be indirect beneficiaries of AFIR, as the policy will help them to fulfil the requirements of FuelEU Maritime. Both the provision of OPS and of the infrastructure needed to use RLFs will help them in this respect.

Is the EU still discussing AFIR?

At EU Parliament, there are still several areas of ongoing discussion:

  • The use of LNG as a transitional fuel – it is now under scrutiny, as it needs to be decarbonized to be considered viable from a well-to-wake perspective
  • The urgency to implement the necessary refueling points in TEN-T core maritime ports by January 2025
  • Reinforcing member states’ obligation to send the Commission their draft NPF
  • The challenges of ensuring a shore-side electricity supply by January 2025

The EU Council has adopted AFIR’s General Approach.

How can I keep up to date with AFIR news?

The development of AFIR will give a significantly clearer picture of the availability of alternative maritime fuels. This may be worth considering for ship owners and operators when deciding their future fuel mix. Like all of Fit for 55, the final form of the AFIR update has yet to be decided, though it will become clearer in the months ahead.   

Bureau Veritas will monitor the evolution of all Fit for 55 proposals as they are adopted. We will continue to provide advice as needed to ship owners and operators in EU waters to help them to prepare their fleets. To stay up to date with the latest developments on AFIR and other Fit for 55 measures, subscribe to our newsletter.

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