U.S. presents roadmap to boost sustainable aviation fuel

A Delta Airlines flight casts a shadow on the ground as it approaches to land at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 11, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday released a plan detailing a government-wide strategy to increase the production and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs).

In September 2021, the Biden administration issued a government challenge to provide at least 3 billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030 and have enough SAF by 2050 “to meet 100% of the fuel demand of aviation, currently projected at around 35 billion gallons per year.” US airlines have pledged to work with the government to make 3 billion gallons of SAF available to aircraft operators by 2030.

The administration wants SAF to achieve a minimum 50% reduction in GHG emissions compared to conventional fuel and seeks to expand supply, use, reduce its cost and improve its sustainability.

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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said “the plan will help American companies corner a valuable emerging industry.”

The Department of Energy said the limited time to achieve the 2030 targets “requires an immediate focus on conversion technologies and commercially ready feedstocks.” He added: “Lipid-based pathways (fats, oils and fats) are expected to be the primary fuel pathway through 2030.”

President Joe Biden signed legislation in August creating a two-year tax credit for mixers; a subsequent three-year production tax credit; and a $290 million SAF grant program.

Many airlines, including Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) want to replace 10% of jet fuel with SAF by 2030.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said meeting near-term goals “will require continued work alongside our suppliers and decision makers so that SAF can become as economical and widely available as traditional jet fuel,” while as Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said, “SAF is key to decarbonizing the aviation sector.”

Aviation generates about 2% of US carbon dioxide emissions and US aviation consumes about 10% of US transportation energy.

The Department of Energy said aircraft power sources other than jet fuel, such as battery technologies and hydrogen, “are not expected to significantly reduce aviation emissions until 2050.”

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Porter

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