Allocate 30% renewable fuel output to SAF, IATA tells govts’, as Biofuel volumes grow

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments to set a policy framework that incentivizes renewable fuel producers to allocate 25-30% of their output to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to meet the CAAF/3 ambition including existing regional and national policies as well as airline commitments.

The association disclosed on Wednesday at the IATA Global Media Summit in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the clearing house for over 310 airlines in 2023, SAF volumes reached over 600 million liters (0.5Mt), double the 300 million liters (0.25 Mt) produced in 2022, accounting for 3% of all renewable fuels produced, with 97% of renewable fuel production going to other sectors.

In 2024 SAF production, according to IATA is expected to triple to 1.875 billion liters (1.5Mt), accounting for 0.53% of aviation’s fuel need, and 6% of renewable fuel capacity.

The small percentage of SAF output as a proportion of overall renewable fuel is primarily due to the new capacity coming online in 2023 being allocated to other renewable fuels.

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The Director-General of IATA, Willie Walsh said,“ The doubling of SAF production in 2023 was encouraging as is the expected tripling of production expected in 2024. But even with that impressive growth, SAF as a portion of all renewable fuel production will only grow from 3% this year to 6% in 2024.

This allocation limits SAF supply and keeps prices high. Aviation needs between 25% and 30% of renewable fuel production capacity for SAF. At those levels, aviation will be on the trajectory needed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Until such levels are reached, we will continue missing huge opportunities to advance aviation’s decarbonisation.

It is government policy that will make the difference. Governments must prioritize policies to incentivize the scaling-up of SAF production and to diversify feedstocks with those available locally.”

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The Third Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to a global framework to promote SAF production in all geographies for fuels used in international aviation to be 5% less carbon intensive by 2030.

To reach this level, about 17.5 billion liters (14MT) of SAF need to be produced.

“Governments want aviation to be net zero by 2050. Having set an interim target in the CAAF process they now need to deliver policy measures that can achieve the needed exponential increase in SAF production,” said Walsh.

Demand, he, said is not the issue, explaining that every drop of SAF produced has been bought and used.

“SAF added $756 million to a record high fuel bill in 2023. At least 43 airlines have already committed to using some 16.25 billion liters (13Mt ) of SAF in 2030, with more agreements being announced regularly.”

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Unlocking supply to meet demand, according to the DG is the challenge that needs to be solved, hinting that projections are for over 78 billion liters (63Mt) of renewable fuels to be produced in 2029.

A recent IATA survey revealed significant public support for SAF. Some 86% of travelers agreed that governments should provide production incentives for airlines to be able to access SAF. In addition, 86% agreed that it should be a priority for oil companies to supply SAF to airlines.

Wole Shadare