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 Renewable Fuel Projects Expected to Produce SAF by 2030

Renewable Fuel Projects Expected to Produce SAF by 2030

With the global aviation industry pledging to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that as many as 140 renewable fuel projects with the capability to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) have been announced to be in production by 2030.

If all of these proceed to production as announced, total renewable fuel production capacity could reach 51 million tonnes by 2030, according to its estimates, with production capacity spread across almost all regions. This could even exceed this estimate as investor interest in SAF has been growing, IATA said.

With a typical three to five-year time lag from planning to production, investment announcements as late as 2027 could be in production by 2030. However, at the same time, it is also clear that not all announcements reach final investment decisions, IATAS warned.

Through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), governments set an ambition to achieve a 5% CO2 emissions reduction for international aviation from SAF by 2030. To achieve that ambition, around 27% of all expected renewable fuel production capacity available in 2030 would need to be SAF, IATA said.

In 2023, SAF volumes reached over 600 million litres, double the 300 million litres produced in 2022. SAF accounted for 3% of all renewable fuels produced, with 97% of renewable fuel production going to other sectors.

Production On Track

IATA also said that its projections for a tripling of SAF production in 2024 to 1.9 billion litres (1.5 million tonnes) are “on track.”

“This is a positive progress, but ultimately will only account for 0.53% of aviation’s fuel need in 2024, highlighting the need for further rapid growth in SAF production and the need for governments to take action on policy measures,” IATA explained.

It is accepted that SAF will provide about two thirds of the mitigation needed for airlines to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The expected tripling of SAF production in 2024 from 2023 is encouraging, Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said adding that the industry still has a long way to go.

“Positively, this does show that the direction of exponential increases in SAF production is starting to come into focus,” Walsh noted.

Potential Aplenty

Renewable fuel production is shared by many industries, and SAF is a part of renewable fuel production. That is why increasing the production of renewable fuel is key to increasing the potential of SAF.

Walsh said that the interest in SAF has been growing and there is plenty of potential but the concrete plans that we have seen so far are far from sufficient, Walsh said.

“The governments across the world need to implement policies to ensure that airlines can actually purchase SAF in the required quantities,” Walsh added.

Diversified Feedstock

About 80% of SAF expected to be produced over the next five years is likely to come from hydrogenated fatty acids (HEFA) such as used cooking oils, animal fats etc. Accelerating the use of other certified pathways and feed stocks (including agricultural and forestry residues and municipal waste) will greatly expand the potential for SAF production, IATA said.

Existing refineries can also be used to co-process up to 5% of approved renewable feed stocks alongside the crude oil streams. This solution can be implemented quickly and materially expand SAF production, IATA added.

Global Business Magazine

Global Business Magazine

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