WHAT DOES SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL MEAN FOR THE FUTURE? SKYNRG PROVIDES THE ANSWERS
SkyNRG is a global leader in making flying more sustainable. We know that sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is integral for the aviation industry to meet its 2050 net zero target. That’s why we act as a trusted partner across the industry to both encourage demand and increase the supply of SAF, collaboratively shaping a more sustainable future for all.
What is Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), and why does it matter?
Sustainable Aviation Fuel, or 'SAF,' is fuel for aircraft engines produced from sustainable and renewable resources instead of refined from petroleum. This makes SAF a liquid and clean substitute for fossil jet fuel.
SAF is produced from sustainable resources like waste oils, agricultural residues or even CO₂ from the air. Given few commercial aircrafts will be switching to alternative energy sources (like hydrogen or electricity) in the near future, airplanes will continue relying on liquid fuels. This makes SAF made from renewable materials one of the most important solutions to significantly reduce the industry's carbon footprint.
What are the benefits of SAF compared to fossil kerosene?
SAF has many benefits compared to fossil kerosene. The main advantage of SAF is the reduction of lifecycle CO₂ emissions, with SAF being able to reduce emissions by 65–90%, depending on feedstock and technology pathway used. In the future, with technological advances and more research, this figure could be even higher, particularly depending on what the SAF is made from.
Another benefit is that SAF is a so-called 'drop-in' fuel. This means that it has the same characteristics as fossil kerosene and can be blended with fossil kerosene – no complicated process necessary. This way, SAF can be used in existing infrastructure and engines.
Is SAF the same as biofuel?
Many people think SAF and biofuels are interchangeable, but they are not necessarily the same thing. SAF can be made from bio-based materials, such as agricultural residues or used cooking oil. But SAF can also be made from non-biobased materials such as CO₂ captured from the air and green hydrogen.
Additionally, not all biofuels are automatically sustainable, while SAF prioritizes sustainability. Biofuels can be made from unsustainable feedstocks that cause deforestation, such as unsustainably produced palm oil. This is why the term 'Sustainable Aviation Fuel' is preferred. It highlights the possibilities for non-bio-based fuels and the sustainability aspects that need to be considered when producing sustainable aviation fuels.
Is it safe to fly with SAF?
Yes. SAF is certified to the same jet fuel standards as fossil jet fuel and meets its same quality and safety requirements. Close to 400,000 flights have already flown using (a blend of) SAF, according to IATA. Before a new type of SAF is used in aviation, it is intensively tested by aircraft and aircraft engine manufacturers like Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce (among others), on a whole range of technical and chemical qualities. Only after approval by ASTM International can the new type of jet fuel be used in flying.
How are my flight's carbon emissions reduced by flying with SAF?
In general, the use of SAF causes a reduction in CO₂ emissions across its lifecycle compared to the use of fossil kerosene. The main difference is in the source of the carbon. Fossil fuel adds CO₂ to the atmosphere by burning carbon that was safely stored in the ground. This creates a long carbon cycle since it took millions of years for this carbon to be stored in the first place. Sustainable fuel recycles the carbon that is released into the atmosphere, by using bio-based materials or technologies that absorb carbon. This creates a short carbon cycle as the carbon emitted is absorbed in a relatively short time period. To ensure SAF reduces emissions compared to fossil kerosene, emissions of both fuels are compared based on a Lifecycle Analysis (LCA). These analyses take the entire lifecycle of the product into account, including transport, blending, and combustion.
How much has the industry done to innovate in this area? How far along are we?
The SAF market is still small compared to fossil kerosene production – it is currently less than 0.1% of global jet fuel consumption. This is because of the current lack of dedicated and high-volume SAF production plants. However, the demand for SAF is rapidly growing. Innovation and scaling up of production plants are key to increasing the availability of these fuels. It is technically feasible to produce sufficient SAF.
How soon might it be before commercial aircraft use sustainable aviation fuel?
Commercial planes are already using SAF. SAF is certified to the same jet fuel standards as fossil jet fuel and meets its same quality and safety requirements, meaning that it can be used without changes to existing aircraft infrastructure or technology. Until now, close to 400,000 flights have already flown using (a blend of) SAF. Airlines have been flying on sustainable aviation fuel since 2008, and the first commercial flight was with KLM in 2011 (see here).
There are a few things preventing SAF from being used on a wider scale by every commercial aircraft. Currently, SAF must be blended with fossil kerosene to be used commercially. SAF produced with the HEFA technology (currently the most commonly used pathway to produce SAF) can be used in an up to 50/50 blend with fossil kerosene. Tests have confirmed it is safe to fly with 100% SAF, but these may take some time to be certified for commercial use. Furthermore, the availability and price of SAF acts as a constraint to how much can be produced and used by commercial airlines. Nevertheless, the demand for SAF is rapidly growing. Innovation and the scaling up of production plants will be essential to ensure the use of SAF becomes more widespread.
How do you guarantee that SkyNRG’s SAF is sustainable?
SkyNRG has its operations certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), which is a worldwide, multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together farmers, corporations, NGOs, experts, governments, and inter-governmental agencies concerned with ensuring the sustainability of biomass production.
RSB’s certification system is based on sustainability standards, encompassing environmental, social, and economic principles and criteria. RSB is widely accepted as the “gold standard” of voluntary certification schemes. In 2019, RSB received powerful recognition as the best standard for Sustainable Aviation Fuels by the International Coalition on Sustainable Aviation –the only environmental NGO group accredited by the UN's aviation institute ICAO.
Besides the RSB certification, SkyNRG is structurally advised by an independent Sustainability Board, comprising of representatives of WWF, Solidaridad Network, Environmental Defense Fund and Utrecht University.
Furthermore, SkyNRG tracks the latest developments and thinking through a global NGO network. By doing so, SkyNRG makes sure that the SAF that is developed is sustainable, traceable, and does not compete with other industries such as food.
SkyNRG's track record
We have sourced, blended and distributed SAF to over 40 airlines and over 50 corporates worldwide, as well as working across multiple projects to scale the production of SAF.
What is SAF made from?
SAF can be produced from a variety of sustainable resources (also called raw materials or feedstocks). Used Cooking Oil (UCO), tallow and vegetable waste oils are mainly used by the industry to date. Forestry residues and non-biobased carbon are examples of promising feedstocks for the future.
SkyNRG does not allow the use of food crops, such as soy and palm oil or their by-products, for the production of SAF.
What is Book and Claim?
The Book & Claim model is a common practice where a sustainability claim made by a company is separated from the physical flow of these goods. The most notable example is green electricity. Electricity cannot be tracked along the grid since it is all combined before entering a power outlet. To solve this problem, Book and Claim systems were developed to allow customers to claim a specific amount of renewable energy. Electricity providers can enter or “book” the electricity they have produced in their systems and customers can “claim” the green energy they have bought. Consumers will then receive a certificate stating the amount of renewable electricity they paid for.
But what does this mean when talking about SAF? This means that SAF is not physically transported and entered into the specific aircraft of the person covering the fuel premium (e.g. Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 team). Instead, it goes into the fuel system at an airport close to the SAF production facility. The volume of SAF that is produced and entered into the hydrant system is tracked and verified, after which corresponding carbon emissions factors are calculated and allocated to the person/organization that covers the premium.
SkyNRG is a global leader in SAF since 2009. Our mission is to build up sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) capacity for aviation to meet its 2050 net zero commitment and in doing so, significantly reduce the industry’s impact on our environment.
Aviation fuels progress in our world, opening up new opportunities and partnerships. At the same time, we know that aviation needs to change to significantly reduce the emissions caused by the sector that harm our planet. The time has come for a new era in aviation, and that’s what we’re here to deliver. We work to source, blend and distribute SAF to airlines worldwide and creating partnerships that significantly increase the supply and production of SAF all over the world. Our operations are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), the highest certificate standard for sustainable fuels, and we are guided by an Indpendent Sustainability Board that help us make the right choices for our planet. Because when aviation is fuelled by sustainable solutions, more of the world can realize tomorrow’s possibilities.
We have introduced programs, like Board Now and Fly on SAF, for organizations and individual passengers to compensate CO2 emissions and co-fund the extra costs of flying more sustainably. In fact, it’s possible to compensate all the CO2 from your flight. We are also developing a worldwide network of regional SAF supply chains, which includes our new facility in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. To increase the supply, we’re building Europe’s first facility dedicated to SAF production, with four more planned by 2030.
For more information, visit: skynrg.com