Pioneering Sustainable Aviation: The Rise of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)    

Sustainable aviation fuel


The aviation industry, long criticized for its significant carbon footprint, is undergoing a remarkable transformation with the advent of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). As countries worldwide commit to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Europe’s instruction requiring flights to have 2% SAF by 2025 is a bold initiative. Similarly, India’s pledge to blend 1% SAF into aviation fuel by the same year signals a significant step towards sustainability. In this blog, we explore the journey of SAF, the implications of these mandates, and how Khaitan Bio Energy is poised to play a pivotal role in India’s SAF production.

The Rise of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

SAF, or bio-jet fuel, is derived from renewable feedstocks such as agricultural residues, waste oils, and algae. Unlike conventional jet fuel, SAF significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Thus making it a vital component in the aviation industry’s quest for sustainability. It is estimated that SAF could contribute around 65% of the reduction in emissions. Thus needed by aviation to reach NET ZERO CO2 emissions by 2050.

It is sustainable because the raw feedstock does not compete with food crops or water supplies. Otherwise is responsible for forest degradation. Whereas fossil fuels add to the overall level of CO2 by emitting carbon that had been previously locked away. Also SAF recycles the CO2 which has been absorbed by the biomass used in the feedstock during the course of its life. By design, these SAFs are drop-in solutions, which can be directly blended into existing fuel infrastructure at airports. And are fully compatible with modern aircraft. In 2022, global SAF production was estimated to be around 375 million litres. Thus covering only around 0.1% to 0.15% of total jet fuel demand. 

Europe’s Mandate: Leading the Charge for Sustainability

In a landmark move, the European Union (EU) has mandated that all flights arriving in European airports must incorporate at least 2% SAF into their fuel mix by 2025. This ambitious target underscores Europe’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions in the aviation sector. It sets a precedent for global sustainability efforts. The mandate incentivizes airlines to invest in SAF and spurs innovation and biofuel industry investments.

The legislation provides for incorporating SAF for 2% of their overall fuel mix from next year, rising to 6% in 2030 and then soaring to 70% in 2050. These requirements will apply to all flights originating in the EU, regardless of destination. Airlines will receive approximately two billion euros in funding from the EU carbon market to assist with the transition. 

SAF production in Europe is still in its early stages. As highlighted by Airlines for Europe (A4E), an association representing major airline groups on the continent, such as Ryanair, Lufthansa, IAG, Air France-KLM, and easyJet. As compared with traditional jet fuel, SAF is significantly more expensive. However the costs are expected to come down as more technological advancements take place in this space. By steadily increasing the percentage of SAF mandated for fueling, they hope to drive the SAF production costs down. This is a necessity as the EU does not currently have the production capacity to meet the SAF required under the 2025 2% mandate.

The U.S. Sustainable Skies Act

The aviation industry in the U.S. accounts for over 11% of transportation related GHG emissions. To achieve NET ZERO emissions, the U.S. Government is working closely with the private sector to increase the production of SAF. The U.S. Congress introduced the Sustainable Skies Act in May 2021, aiming to boost incentives to use SAF by providing tax credits to manufacturers. The credit will start at 1.50 USD per gallon for blenders that supply SAF with a demonstrated 50% or greater lifecycle GHG savings. These tax credits will help cut costs and rapidly scale domestic production of sustainable fuels for aviation.

In early September 2021, the U.S. announced a new sustainable aviation fuel goal to increase the production of SAF to at least 13 billion litres per year by 2030 and to 160 billion litres per year by 2050, thereby putting the aviation sector on the pathway to achieve NET ZERO carbon emissions by 2050.

India’s Ambitious Goals: A Paradigm Shift in Aviation

Following Europe’s lead, India has set its sights on sustainable aviation, aiming to blend 1% SAF into aviation fuel by 2025. This mandate, announced by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, represents a paradigm shift in India’s aviation sector. Also this aligns with the country’s broader climate goals. By promoting the use of SAF, India seeks to reduce its carbon footprint. Thus enhance energy security, and foster innovation in the biofuel industry.

India, guided by Prime Minister Modi, is determined to attain net zero emissions by 2070. This demonstrates that this vision is supported by tangible commitments as well.

Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing & Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, has once again emphasized it. The importance of India implementing mandatory blending of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) with jet fuel. During an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol at the India Energy Week 2024, the minister stated that discussions are currently taking place to introduce this mandatory blending. Furthermore, he highlighted that India and Brazil are the only two countries in the world that can become major SAF manufacturers.

Puri stated, “If Europe were to introduce a mandatory SAF blending of 5 percent with Jet Fuel, India and Brazil would be the only two countries capable of manufacturing the required SAF.” He further suggested that the Indian government could significantly increase its SAF production. This is by incentivizing the collection of used cooking oil from hotels, restaurants, and street vendors.

India currently needs policies governing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), unlike Europe or the US. However, in an effort to reduce emissions and contribute to a more sustainable planet, India has set a target of using 1% SAF for domestic flights by 2025. This is as stated by our Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The adoption of SAF in India would signify a significant milestone in our commitment to environmentally responsible aviation operations.

Khaitan Bio Energy: Powering India’s Transition to SAF

Amidst these mandates and growing demand for SAF, Khaitan Bio Energy emerges as a key player in India’s biofuel landscape. To meet the rising demand of SAF, ethanol is one of the few renewable fuels. This is currently being commercially produced at relatively large scale and low price.

Leveraging its expertise in biofuel production, Khaitan Bio Energy specializes in manufacturing 2G ethanol, a crucial precursor to SAF production. 2G ethanol, derived from non-edible biomass such as agricultural residues and municipal waste, is an environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuels.

Khaitan Bio Energy’s advanced production facilities and commitment to innovation position it as a frontrunner in India’s SAF supply chain. By producing high-quality 2G ethanol at scale, Khaitan Bio Energy contributes to India’s SAF blending targets, supports sustainable aviation initiatives, and fosters economic growth in rural communities. 

Conclusion: A Sustainable Future for Aviation

The mandates set by Europe, U.S. and India underscore the aviation industry’s shift towards sustainability. And also the crucial role of SAF in achieving this vision. As countries worldwide embrace renewable energy solutions, companies like Khaitan Bio Energy play a pivotal role in driving innovation. Thus reducing emissions, and building a more sustainable future for aviation. Through collaboration, investment, and technological advancement, we can pave the way for a cleaner, greener aviation sector that benefits both the planet and future generations.