Embracing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will require preferential feedstock access for the aviation sector and a long-term framework to support fuel production, Air bp’s global head of sustainability, Andreea Moyes, has said.

While the aviation industry remains committed to increasing production of SAF, limited production capacity and cost premiums over conventional fossil fuels mean that the fuel currently comprises less than 0.1 per cent of total aviation fuel consumption.

To scale up production and increase supply, blending mandates alongside other regulatory measures, including incentives to bridge the gap with conventional jet fuel, are being introduced in countries around the world.

Fit for 55

In July 2021, as part of the European Union’s strategy to reduce emissions 55 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, the ‘Fit for 55’ package of regulatory proposals was announced. A central component of this decarbonisation plan is a blending mandate for SAF via the ReFuel Eu Aviation Initiative. It outlines that from 2030, the aviation fuel made available to EU airports should contain 5 per cent SAF, increasing to 63 per cent by 2050.

But Air bp has said the complexities of SAF supply and delivery must be factored in when implementing these mandates.

In particular, the EU’s SAF blending mandate will require multiple supporting policies including preferential feedstock access for the aviation sector and a long-term framework to support SAF production.

In addition, Air bp is calling for the implementation of mass balancing centres from which SAF can be delivered into select air transport hubs, to decrease the regulatory cost burden and simplify logistics, rather than SAF being available at all airports.

Aim to deliver SAF via pipeline

“The aim should be to get SAF delivered, ideally via pipeline, in large volumes to primary hubs with better and more flexible infrastructure and higher aircraft movements,” Moyes said.

“Mass balancing enables fuel suppliers to meet SAF targets within a country or region by delivering the necessary SAF quota to a particular airport or several larger locations rather than physically moving small volumes to every single airport.

“While SAF is recognised as the front runner to achieving wide scale decarbonisation of the aviation sector in the immediate future, producing SAF in every country and making it available at every airport is neither viable nor a cost-effective solution.

“A deep understanding of what is required based on feedstocks available, technical pathways, processing methods, testing and blending logistics is key to the wider roll out of SAF. As such, the success of blending mandates currently being implemented will rely on the input, and expertise of suppliers such as Air bp who are already heavily engaged in ensuring SAF can be supplied at scale not just in the short term but up to and beyond 2050.”

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