A new piece of legislation – dubbed the Sustainable Skies Act – has been introduced in the US House of Representatives, aimed at boosting the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) industry. SAF is a renewable fuel alternative derived from biomass and waste products.
The act establishes a performance-based tax credit, which offers $1.50 – $2 per gallon for SAF that achieves at least a 50% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional jet fuel. This figure will increase by one cent for every additional percentage of demonstrated greenhouse gas emissions savings above 50%.
The measure is hoped to make SAF more cost-competitive, and to stimulate production of the fuel. Currently, it is not cost-effective enough to compete with traditional fuel sources, a disparity that needs to change if SAF is to be integrated into the transport sector.
At a media meeting on May 26th Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said the industry is in need of government support before SAF can really take off.
“There’s no reason why governments should not support this development given the billions—trillions indeed—of dollars that have gone into green fuels for other sources,” he said. “Aviation has long recognized that we need to find an alternative to the kerosene that we’re using today. Sustainable biofuels are a viable option for us. But we need to see the same support that other industries have received to get to a point where we can get volumes of manufacturing to a level that drives the unit cost down.”
The aviation industry currently accounts for 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, though that number is expected to grow by three to four percent every year. SAF is anticipated to play a crucial part in the sector’s goal of cutting emissions in half by 2050 and some aircraft manufacturers have already committed to making their aircrafts capable of flying on 100% SAF. In January this year, Boeing pledged to have all commercial airplanes SAF-compliant by 2030, while Cathay Pacific said it aims to buy 1.1mn tonnes of the cleaner fuel over the next 10 years.