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Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is the name given to advanced aviation biofuel types used in jet aircraft and certified as being sustainable by a reputable independent third-party, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). This certification is in addition to the safety and performance certification, issued by global standards body ASTM International,[1] that all jet fuel is required to meet in order to be approved for use in regular passenger flights.



A SAF sustainability certification verifies that the fuel product, mainly focussing on the biomass feedstock, has met criteria focussed around long-term global environmental, social and economic "triple-bottom-line" sustainability considerations. Under many carbon emission regulation schemes, such as the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, a certified SAF product may be granted an exemption from an associated carbon compliance liability cost.[2]  This marginally improves the economic competitiveness of environmentally favourable SAF over traditional fossil-based jet fuel. However, in the near term there are several commercialisation and regulatory hurdles that are yet to be overcome through the collaboration of a variety of stakeholders for SAF products to meet price parity with traditional jet fuel and to enable widespread uptake.[3]

The first reputable body to launch a sustainable biofuel certification system applicable to SAF was the academic European-based Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) NGO.[4] This multi-stakeholder organization set a global benchmark standard on which the sustainability integrity of advanced aviation biofuel types seeking to use the claim of being a Sustainable Aviation Fuel can be judged. Leading airlines in the aviation industry and other signatories to the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG) pledge support the RSB as the preferred provider of SAF certification.[5] These airlines believe it important for any proposed aviation biofuels have independently certified sustainable biofuel long term environmental benefits compared to the status quo in order to ensure their successful uptake and marketability [6]

Global impactEdit

As emissions trading schemes and other carbon compliance regimes are emerging globally certain biofuels are likely to be exempt, "zero rated", by governments from having an associated carbon compliance liability due to their closed-emissions-loop renewable nature if they can also prove their wider sustainability credentials. For example, in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme it has been proposed by SAFUG that only aviation biofuels that have been certified as sustainable by the RSB or similar bodies would be zero rated.[7] This proposal has been accepted.[8]

SAFUG was formed by a group of interested airlines in 2008 under the auspices of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and in cooperation with support from NGOs such as Natural Resources Defense Council. Member airlines represent more than 15% of the industry, and all member CEOs have signed a pledge to work on the development and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.[9][10]

In addition to SAF certification, the integrity of aviation biofuel producers and their product can be assessed by further means such as by using Richard Branson's Carbon War Room [11] Renewable Jet Fuels initiative.[12] (which currently cooperates which such companies as LanzaTech, SG Biofuels, AltAir, Solazyme, Sapphire). A leading independent NGO focused on this issue is the Sustainable Sky Institute [13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Aviation Fuel Standard Takes Flight". Aviation Fuel Standard Takes Flight. ASTM. September–October 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Sustainability schemes for biofuels". European Commission/Energy/Renewable energy/Biofuels. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Sustainable Aviation Fuel". Qantas. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  4. ^ "RSB Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials | Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials" (PDF). 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  5. ^ Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group – SAFUG". Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  7. ^ "Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group : European Section" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  8. ^ "Revision of the EU Energy Tax Directive - technical press briefing" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  9. ^ "Environment and Biofuels | Boeing Commercial Airplanes". Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  10. ^ "SAFUG Pledge; Boeing Commercial Airplanes". Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  11. ^ "Renewable Jet Fuels". Carbon War Room. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  12. ^ "Welcome". Renewable Jet Fuels. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  13. ^ "Sustainable Sky Institute". Sustainable Sky Institute. Retrieved 2016-04-26.

External linksEdit