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Sustainable aviation fuel deals, developments surge

28th April 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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In its latest ‘Fly Net Zero Media Update’, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – the global representative body for the airline industry – has highlighted a wave of significant developments regarding the roll-out and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) during March alone.

This wave covered Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America.

SAF promises to greatly reduce commercial aviation’s carbon emissions, initially by diluting (through blending) and later by totally replacing fossil-based jet fuel. SAF is manufactured from a wide variety of feedstocks, including non-food and waste biomass and other waste products, such as used cooking oils and fats. SAF could cut aviation carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80%, in comparison to conventional jet fuel.

In Asia, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore is to establish a $50-million Aviation Sustainability Programme. The aim is to develop the island nation as a hub for sustainable aviation, including by reducing aviation carbon emissions.

In an initiative straddling Asia and Australasia, Japan’s Eneos Holdings (an oil and metals company) is to study, with Australian group Ampol, the production of up to 500-million litres of SAF and renewable diesel a year, in the Australian State of Queensland. Also in Australia, national flag carrier Qantas and Europe-based airframer Airbus have announced a joint $1.8-million (A$2-million) investment in a biofuel refinery being built in Queensland.

In Europe, Airbus flew an A321neo single-aisle airliner with both its engines running on 100% SAF. The flight was made from the group’s main complex, in Toulouse, in France. In Spain, energy company CEPSA announced an up to $1.07-billion investment to build a new, second-generation biofuel (including SAF) plant, at Huelva, in the region of Andalusia. In Ireland, a joint study by Aircraft Leasing Ireland and KPMG concluded that that country was well placed to produce SAF. In Germany, research institute DLR is to create the world’s biggest power-to-liquid research facility for ‘e-fuels’ for aviation, after being awarded a €12.7-million government grant. In Finland, national flag carrier Finnair has bought 750 t of SAF from green fuels company Neste, with deliveries to start soon, to reduce the carbon emissions of its flights from Helsinki. Similarly, Iceland’s flag carrier, Icelandair, has signed a memorandum of understanding with green hydrogen company IdunnH2 to buy up to 45 000 t of SAF from 2028 onwards. And Air Greenland has announced that its flights between Søndre Strømfjord/Kangerlussuaq and Copenhagen will now use SAF. This is the result of a new SAF supply agreement with DCC and Shell Aviation Denmark.

In North America, the US saw a lot of SAF announcements last month. Alaska Airlines reported that it had entered an SAF agreement with Shell Aviation, which embraced education on SAF technology, infrastructure, carbon accounting systems and public policy support as well as the supply of the fuel. Delta Air Lines unveiled its new sustainability strategy and a deal with biofuels company Gevo to source 75-million gallons (nearly 284-million litres) of SAF a year, for seven years. Hawaiian Airlines also reported a deal with Gevo, for 50-million gallons (just over 189-million litres) of SAF, over a period of five years, starting in 2029. JetBlue announced an agreement with Shell Aviation to increase SAF supplies at Los Angeles International Airport; the airline would take delivery of 10-million gallons (almost 38-million litres) of blended SAF at the airport over the next two years, starting during the first half of this year; the deal included an option for another five-million gallons (nearly 19-million litres) during a third year. And United Airlines invested $5-million in algae biofuel company Viridos, to boost SAF production; it also announced another $5-million investment in carbon capture technology company Svante.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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