How sustainable aviation fuels can tackle aviation’s carbon footprint
Author: John Holland Kaye
In October 2022, with the encouragement of global airlines and airports, governments from around the world reached a landmark agreement at ICAO (the UN governing body for aviation) on net zero international aviation by 2050. This now needs to be conved into national policy actions. SAF can be made from waste from agriculture, households, forestry and industry, delivering lifecycle carbon savings of 70% or more. Many developing countries with a large agriculture sector are well placed to become suppliers to this market, increasing their energy independence. In the future, synthetic fuel made using carbon extracted from the air and clean energy has the potential to achieve a 100% carbon saving. SAF is a critical but, so far, under-utilised tool that can unlock aviation’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050. A proven technology, it was used as far back as WWII to fly fighters when oil was scarce. SAF is incredibly versatile; it can be used in any existing aircraft without the need for technical modifications and has already powered 250,000 flights around the world; it can be blended with kerosene and soon be used as a complete replacement. This is a critical advantage during the energy transition, since it means that a plane can fly one way on SAF and return on kerosene removing the need for all airports to have a SAF supply.