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U.S. Working Towards Implementing Sustainable Aviation Fuels

-Editorial

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs Annie Petsonk joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm to release the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Grand Challenge Roadmap. The comprehensive plan outlines the government-wide strategy for scaling sustainable aviation fuel production across the U.S.

The roadmap outlines actions that will spur technological innovation to produce SAF, reduce emissions, enable the United States to meet its domestic climate goals, and position the country as a global leader in the emerging SAF market.

“Transportation contributes more carbon emissions than any other sector, which means it must also be a central part of the solution to climate change, and that certainly includes aviation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “We look forward to working with our partners in the public and private sectors on the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, which will lead to cleaner skies, continued economic growth, and good-paying jobs.”

The SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap aligns government and industry actions to achieve the goals of the SAF Grand Challenge, which was signed in 2021 by the partnering agencies and consists of three major goals:

  • Achieve a minimum of a 50% reduction in life cycle GHG emissions compared to conventional fuel.
  • Produce three billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030
  • Supply sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand by 2050.

The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge is the result of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other federal government agencies working together to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) on a commercial scale.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Biotechnology Energy Office [BETO) empowers energy companies and aviation stakeholders by supporting advances in research, development, and demonstration to overcome barriers to the widespread deployment of low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

SAF made from renewable biomass and waste resources has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, giving airlines solid footing for decoupling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the flight.

The U.S. Department of Energy is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal government agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce SAF on a commercial scale.

U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes issued the following statement on the U.S. Energy Department’s plan to increase the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF):

“Investing in and expanding production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is critical for the future growth of travel. We shouldn’t be in a position where we have to choose between seeing the amazing things this country and our world have to offer and saving the planet—both are possible. Travel industry leaders, working with government officials, can help to accelerate sustainability-focused travel options and we support this effort to make the availability of sustainable aviation fuels a reality.”

U.S. commercial aviation currently consumes approximately 10 percent of all transportation energy and is a significant contributor to domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel, but with a fraction of its carbon footprint – emerging SAF pathways even have a net-negative GHG footprint. SAF can be made from renewable biomass and other resources, including winter oilseed crops, agricultural and forestry residues, and municipal solid waste streams.

Enough biomass can be collected sustainably each year in the United States to produce 50–60 billion gallons of low-carbon fuels. Growing, sourcing, and producing SAF from renewable and waste resources can also create new economic opportunities in agricultural and rural communities, improve the environment, and even boost aircraft performance.

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