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Sustainable Aviation Fuels Continue Upward Trajectory

United 787 Dreamliner is field with Sustainable Aviation Biofuel at San Francisco International Airport (Photo: San Francisco International Airport)

Sustainable aviation fuels have been getting a lot of attention recently as the world starts focusing more on aviation-related carbon emissions. Alternative propulsion systems like electric motors are still far in the future. In the meantime, the world is turning to sustainable aviation fuels as a necessary measure to reduce emissions while other more environmentally friendly technologies are developed.

Earlier this year in April, the European Union introduced new environmentally friendly measures to tackle aviation emissions. Their goal was to have two percent of aviation fuel supplied at European Union airports to be comprised of sustainable aviation fuels by 2025, growing to seventy percent by 2050.

KLM in May flew flights from Amsterdam to Los Angeles to test new initiatives in aviation sustainability by using things such as sustainable aviation fuel. United Airlines announced its participation in a fund to help increase the availability of these sustainable fuels in the industry.

In the United States, the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law in August of 2022 aims to spur the growth of lower-carbon aviation fuel by providing hefty tax credits to those developing sustainable aviation fuels.

More airlines are catching on to the trend of sustainable aviation fuels but it’s not going to be a cheap trend. Sustainable aviation fuels are currently not widely available and often more expensive than conventional fuel. It’s expected that as the fuel gains in popularity, costs will eventually come down. However, this is going to require significant investment.

Shell Aviation and American Express

This is why American Express Global Business Travel and Shell Aviation teamed up to help finance the growth of these fuels. Major companies such as Bank of America, and JetBlue have all joined on to take part in the effort. Most recently, Google has joined on as well seeking to use sustainable aviation fuel supplied by Shell as a way to help cut emissions from its corporate flying, according to GreenBiz.

The goal of this partnership is to bring more businesses into the program to leverage scale to increase the production of these new fuels.

Shell is working on a massive sustainable aviation fuel facility in Rotterdam that is expected to deliver 820,000 tons of biofuels a year using a technology that refines vegetable oils, waste oils, and fats using hydrogen. The goal of the company is to leverage corporate partnerships to have at least ten percent of its global aviation fuel sales be sustainable fuels by 2030.

Blockchain plays a part in all of this as well by acting as a ledger that can track sustainable fuels delivered across the aviation fueling network allowing businesses to report verifiable data on the amount of emissions reduced.

While we wait for electric and hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft to become reality, sustainable aviation fuels are the only realistic way to reliably reduce carbon emissions in the aviation industry beyond measures such as more fuel-efficient engines and flight paths.

Hemal Gosai

Author

  • Hemal Gosai

    Hemal took his first flight at four years old and has been an avgeek since then. When he isn't working as an analyst he's frequently found outside watching planes fly overhead or flying in them. His favorite plane is the 747-8i which Lufthansa thankfully flies to EWR allowing for some great spotting. He firmly believes that the best way to fly between JFK and BOS is via DFW and is always willing to go for that extra elite qualifying mile.

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