A new report shows that low-emissions fuel for major airlines could be in operation in the near future.
- Aviation emissions represent the third largest source of fossil fuel emissions in the world, with more than 2% of all carbon emissions.
- With global goals to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, the airline industry is facing a make-or-break conversion to cleaner fuels if it wants to continue to operate in the next 30 years.
- A new report from independent researcher provider Rhodium Group says that a transition to low-carbon Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), produced from biological and non-biological alternatives, could reduce airline emissions.
- The Biden administration has already set tax credits for SAFs in the hope of subsidizing production and mass conversion of major airlines.
Why it’s Important
As we previously reported, the airline industry is rushing to find solutions that can lower carbon emissions. Rolls-Royce and Airbus are both experimenting with hydrogen-powered engines as a safe and clean alternative to fossil fuels.
“Aviation is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize because planes are typically in service for decades at a time and cannot be significantly reengineered to run on different fuels. But SAFs, it turns out, can be used as blends with traditional aviation fuels, and eventually instead of them,” says Axios.
While SAF production is low at the moment, the Biden administration is considering it as a viable alternative and is working to expand the production of the fuel by 2050 through what it calls the SAF Grand Challenge.
Doing so would require commitment from major airlines though, which may be difficult as SAF fuel currently costs three to five times as much as traditional fuel. Tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act may be enough to incentivize the conversion though.
“Sustainable aviation fuels are low-carbon fuels produced from biological (i.e., plant and animal materials) and non-biological (i.e., municipal solid waste, industrial waste gasses) feedstocks, which have similar physical and chemical characteristics as conventional jet fuel but with a lower life-cycle carbon footprint … SAF has the potential to reduce life-cycle CO2 emissions by up to 99% compared to traditional jet fuel, depending on the technological pathway and feedstocks used to produce the fuel,” says Rhodium Group.