The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has projected that renewable fuel production will reach a capacity of at least 69 billion L by 2028, including that of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). This will be possible with the establishment of new refineries and the expansion of existing facilities across North America, the EU and the Asia Pacific region.
The growth in renewable fuel production is an encouraging development, according to IATA. However, governments need to take action to ensure that SAF receives its fair share of production to support the aviation industry's transition to cleaner energy sources. Support for the diversification of methods and feedstocks used in SAF production is vital to align the expected production levels with the industry's goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, explained IATA via a press release.
In 2022, SAF production tripled to about 300 million L and there has been a significant increase in project announcements from potential SAF producers. IATA has identified over 130 renewable fuel projects from 85 producers in 30 countries, and further renewable fuel capacity announcements are expected in the coming years.
IATA identified three avenues for SAF diversification: scaling up already certified SAF pathways such as Alcohol-to-Jet (AtJ) and Fischer-Tropsch (FT), accelerating research and development for emerging SAF production pathways and scaling up feedstock and feedstock conversion technology.
If renewable fuel production reaches the estimated 69 billion L by 2028, the trajectory towards 100 billion L by 2030 remains on track, according to IATA. Even if only 30% of this production is allocated to SAF, the industry could achieve 30 billion L of SAF production by 2030.
Governments worldwide share accountability for the decarbonization of the aviation industry, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). IATA deemed crucial for governments to establish a policy framework that ensures aviation receives the required share of renewable energy production for SAF.
Governments must demonstrate policy leadership to enhance growth by reducing barriers for market entrants, such as producers, feedstock providers and offtakers. IATA explained that said investments can generate long-term returns by supporting environmental cleanup, fostering economic growth in developing countries and ensuring a secure and sustainable energy transition.