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US administration to advance the use of biofuels in aviation

10 September 2021

The US administration announced a series of actions to reduce GHG emissions from the aviation sector by 20% by 2030. This goal is to be achieved through increased use of biofuels, or so-called sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

The emission reductions are to be achieved through government funding and incentives, with voluntary cooperation by the industry, as opposed to biofuel mandates. The executive actions would produce 3 billion gallons of sustainable fuel by the end of the decade. In 2019, the aviation industry used about 18.3 billion gallons of fuel.

By 2050, SAF would meet 100% of aviation fuel demand—estimated, based on the assumption of continuing growth in air traffic, at 35 billions gallon per year. The current US production capacity of renewable diesel amouns to about 1 billion gallons per year, according to EIA data.

SAFs are defined as those that reduce lifecycle GHGs by 50% compared to conventional fuels. The policy extends to all non-military flights within and departing from the United States, which represent 11% of US transportation related emissions.

The relevant government policies and programs will be developed by the departments of Energy, Transportation and Agriculture. The three agencies have launched a government-wide ‘Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge’ to work with stakeholders to ramp up SAF production in the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will make 14 grant awards totaling more than $3.6 million to support approval testing of sustainable aviation fuels. The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced $64.7 million in funding for projects focused on producing cost-effective, low-carbon biofuels.

Announcements about SAF investments have also been made by the industry. Chevron and Gevo will invest jointly in new facilities that would process corn to produce SAF, while United and Honeywell announced a joint investment in Alder Fuels, a company that is developing technologies for producing SAF from forest and crop waste.

Source: The White House | The Hill