What is sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)?
We work to innovate the aviation sector through working on decarbonisation technology, funding mechanisms and new processes.
There are many new innovations which work towards decarbonising the sector including biofuel fuels, hydrogen-based fuels, synthetic fuels, solar, eviation (electric planes), air traffic management efficiencies and development of new planes and parts. Many of these are decades from commercialisation and currently in R&D but what is ready right now, is sustainable aviation fuel. And this can have very a large impact on reducing emissions.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) has been developed and tested for the last 10 years and is now ready to commercialise.
Is it safe?
Yes, it has gone through up to 20 tests to be ASTM approved and it matches jet fuel molecule -for-molecule. ASTM being the the global jet fuel safety standard body: American Society for Testing and Materials.
There are currently 7 ASTM processes which are accepted ways to produce biofuel which can be can be made from a variety of feedstocks* (waste cooking oil, municipal solid waste, agricultural residues, non-food supply crops) and blended by up to 50% with kerosene.
Currently there has now been up to 230,000 flights using up to a 10% biofuel blend to-date according to latest figures from IATA.
The benefits include up to 80% C02 emissions reduction on the life cycle compared to fossil fuels .
The industry is a large scale circular economy:
Sustainable aviation fuels are made from waste that is currently going to landfill (municipal solid waste), agricultural residues or non-food supply crops avoiding the need to dig further fossil fuels from the ground, this is crucial and in line with the Paris Agreement. Divestment from fossil has begun at a large scale including now over 1110 institutions with more than USD $11 trillion in assets under management have committed to divest from fossil fuels.
Is it sustainable?
All fuels produced follow strict sustainability principles through certification bodies which the European Commission have approved. Principles include not interfering with land use for the food supply chain and ethically producing yields that also support local communities and other key sustainability criteria like zero deforestation, no forced labour, transparent stakeholder consultation, improved rural development and respect of land rights.
Airlines will only purchase or blend biofuels which use certified feedstocks. It is extremely important to make sure that any non-food supply crops being used are from a source that is known to be credible and follows the European Commission Indirect land-Use Directive.
Sustainable aviation fuels are also an agreed carbon offset as confirmed by Gold Standard who have approved projects initiated by FGA.
Is it available to buy now?
There are several large companies that are starting to produce SAF. However the cost of the fuel is 3 times as expensive as fossil and there is not enough supply to create economies of scale right now. Certain airlines have schemes to purchase the fuel but it’s not widespread or commonly used. You can find a map of the latest SAF initiatives globally online here.
Is there governmental support?
In the EU we use 55 million tonnes of aviation fuel per year, the target was to reach 2 million tonnes of biofuel production in 2020 but this has been an ambitious target, currently 100 million litres per year is being produced accounting for 0.1% of global jet fuel consumption.
The European Commission fully support SAF use for decarbonisation of aviation and policy is being updated to promote production further through the Green Deal which was announced December 2019 and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy updated December 2020.
California also has extensive governmental incentives to encourage use of the fuel, Low Carbon Fuel Standard, but still we need more support, funding, research, grants and commitment from airlines and corporate travellers, the tourism sector and all stakeholders in order to pay the initial premium to fund the shift in this new industry.
This is where our work starts.
How do we get involved?
Contact us to find out more and we can guide you through how you, your company, movement or department can get involved.
*FGA are technology and feedstock agnostic.