Leading consultancies, banks and businesses have teamed up to broker a major deal for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) certificates, in a move designed to galvanize the nascent market for alternative, lower carbon jet fuel.
Announced following a competitive procurement process, the deal crowds in Bank of America, Boom Supersonic, Boston Consulting Group, JPMorgan & Chase, Meta and clean energy non-profit RMI, who claim to have collectively purchased certificates encompassing almost 850,000 gallons of "high-integrity" SAF.
The organizations, which together form the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA), said the certificates would enable U.S. low-cost airline JetBlue slash 8,500 tonnes of CO2 from its flights on a lifecycle basis, by purchasing SAF from biofuels company World Energy.
World Energy claims its SAF can deliver 84 percent fewer lifestyle carbon emissions compared to conventional fossil jet fuel.
The deal marks the first joint procurement process by SABA, a scheme established by U.S. nonprofits RMI and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to ramp up investment in — and drive adoption of — lower carbon jet fuels.
The deal marks the first joint procurement process by SABA, an initiative to support lower carbon jet fuels.
Adam Klauber, vice president of sustainability and ESG at World Energy, said the alliance was playing a critical role in growing confidence in the nascent SAF market.
"World Energy is honored to be the fuel producer for SABA's first aggregated SAF purchase," he said. "At this pivotal moment SABA plays an important role in addressing aircraft emissions by cultivating trust in SAF and making corporate actions to decarbonize aviation possible."
Under the SABA procurement process, open to major U.S. and international air carriers, bidders were asked to prove their SAF met key sustainability criteria, it said. Plans are also being drawn up for a digital registry enabling SABA members to log SAF certificates in order to build transparency, trust and consistency to the certificate system, it added.
The group said it planned to launch its second competitive procurement process open to all airlines and fuel providers, which it said would seek to procure SAF certificates over a five-year timeframe.
Companies involved in the first deal said it would help to drive down their corporate travel emissions.
Companies involved in the first deal announced this week said it would help to drive down their corporate travel emissions.
"Our support and purchase of SAF through SABA is one way in which we are working to meet our goal of utilizing SAF for at least 20 percent of the company's annual employee aviation fuel usage by 2030, while spurring broader demand to make SAF more accessible and affordable," said Alex Liftman, global environmental executive at Bank of America.
Blending SAF into existing fossil jet fuel is seen as one of the most immediately viable options for cutting emissions from aviation in the near-term, outside of reducing flight demand for flight.
As such growing numbers of airlines have been increasing their ambitions for SAF as a key plank of their sustainability plans, but volumes of the fuel remain low, with SAF accounting for less than 0.1 percent of the current aviation fuel market.
SAFs remain controversial, for both the ability of the sector to deliver genuinely low carbon fuels at sufficient scale, as well as the credibility of the carbon offset projects funded by airlines.
Most SAFs today are produced with energy crops or municipal solid waste. However, efforts are also underway to scale e-fuels, which unlike SAF biofuels can potentially deliver zero emissions, as they are produced using hydrogen made from renewable energy and captured carbon, while also boasting fewer of the challenges for land use and food security associated with biofuels.
However, SAFs remain controversial among some green groups, which have questioned both the ability of the sector to deliver genuinely low carbon fuels at sufficient scale and the credibility of the carbon offset projects funded by airlines.
But Facebook owner Meta's head of net zero strategy, Devon Lake, said the new SABA deal would enable it to "credibly and transparently contribute" to the decarbonization of aviation.
"Buying SAF through SABA's collective procurement process allows us to go one further and send a strong and coordinated demand signal to the market," he said. "Basically, if suppliers produce more high-integrity SAF, SABA members will be here to support its uptake."