Sustainable Aviation Fuel Requires Government Intervention

The International Air Transport Association, IATA, has announced its anticipation for the entire renewable fuel production so as to reach an estimated probability of at least 69 billion litres, i.e., 55 million tonnes by 2028. Apparently, sustainable aviation fuels are going to comprise a portion when it comes to the growing output that is being hit by way of renewable fuel refineries and, at the same time, the expansion of new facilities. Significantly, the anticipated production happens to have a wide geographic footprint, which goes on to cover Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific.

According to the director general of IATA, Willie Walsh, the anticipated production increase looks to be very encouraging. Witnessing this, they need the governments to act so as to ensure that SAF gets to have a fair share of the production. In the first instance, this means production incentives in order to support the energy transition in the aviation sector.

One has to have a continued nod for more diversification in terms of methods as well as feedstocks that happen to be available for SAF production. With these couple of measures successfully completed, one can indeed be confident that the 2028 anticipated levels are realistically aligned with the present published roadmaps that lead to net zero emissions by 2050. That is pretty much imperative, as they happen to be counting on the SAF so as to offer 62% of the carbon mitigation that is required in 2050, opined Welsh.

It is well to be noted that the trends supporting this outlook are already visible. SAF production tripled to 300 million litres in 2022, and besides, the project announcements pertaining to potential SAF producers are surging quickly.

IATA counts more than 130 relevant renewable nuclear projects announced by over 85 producers throughout 30 nations. Each of these projects has gone on to announce the intent to manufacture SAF within the wider product portfolio when it comes to renewable fuels.

Ideally, there happens to be a 3–5-year lag between the announcement of a project and the date of its commercialization. This signifies that more renewable fuel capacity until this decade’s end could still be put into play in the following years.

The fact is that if renewable energy production goes on to hit 69 billion litres by 2028, the path to 100 billion litres by 2030 looks very well on track. If just 30% of those produced SAF, in that scenario, the industry could go on to achieve 30 billion litres of production of SAF by 2030.

According to Walsh, achieving the required percentage of output from such new and expanding facilities isn’t a given. However, with the governments the world over being on the same page at ICAO with a long-term aspirational goal of net zero by 2050, they now go on to share ownership as well as accountability for the decarbonization of the aviation sector.

All this is establishing a policy framework so as to make sure that aviation gets the required share of renewable energy production as far as SAF is concerned.

Government Funding As Well As Policy Support

The diversification case within the present sustainability criteria is pretty much clear. It is expected that 85% of future SAF volume in the next 5 years will be derived from only one of the nine pathways that are certified, Hydrotreated Esters and Fatty Acids- HEFA which are dependent on limited supply when it comes to feedstocks like oil, waste fat, and grease feedstocks.

Notably, IATA pinpoints three major avenues so as to achieve SAF diversification:

  • Scale the already certified SAF pathways like alcohol to jet as well as Fischer-Tropsch.
  • Accelerated research and development for SAF production pathways that are currently under development.
  • Scale up feedstock and the conversion technology pertaining to it.

The speeding up of these avenues to levels that happen to be commercialised will need policy leadership from governments. To begin, there indeed happens to be an urgent need for harmonisation when it comes to core SAF policies so as to lessen logistical, administrative, as well as geographical barriers to entry in the case of new market entrants such as feedstock providers, producers, and off-takers.

The actual issue is finding the capital required to invest in the development of new technologies as well as production facilities. The government has to look at a broader sustainability picture when it comes to these investments. SAF can be produced by excessive forestry as well as agri-residues, food waste, municipal solid waste, and wet wastes.

Manufacturing SAF from these can help long-term return on investment options for governments, with the probability of getting to finance the clean-up of the environment, helping developing economies, and also giving out a future-proofed intersection when it comes to energy security and its transition.

The Passenger Support

A recent IATA report has gone on to reveal prominent public support for SAF. Almost 85% of the travellers agreed to the point that the governments should go on to offer incentives for airlines so as to make sure that they use SAF. Walsh says people have gone on to experience the government’s role in the shift to green energy for electricity, and they are now expecting the same for SAF as well.

G7 leaders happen to be the latest to reiterate their knowledge that SAF is imperative for sustainable aviation. It is time they support the declaration with policies that are effective. To promote the production of SAF, there are many tried and tested tools, such as tax credits, grants, and even direct funding, when it comes to emerging tech as well as solutions. The point is that anything that meaningfully incentivizes the production of SAF is going to be a step forward.