Airport Operators Collaborate to Study Sustainable Aviation Fuel in India

Airport operators Groupe ADP and GMR Airports, Airbus, Axens and Safran have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to conduct a joint study on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and its potential in India.

The objective of the study, conducted under the lead and coordination of Groupe ADP and GMR Airports and with the expertise of all partners, is to understand and evaluate the demand, the challenges and opportunities of supply, infrastructure and fuelling, as well as to prepare a business case for SAF production and use in India for all kind of aviation purposes.

SAF is a clean substitute for fossil jet fuels. Rather than being refined from petroleum, it is produced from sustainable resources such as waste oils from a biological origin, agri-residues, municipal solid wastes, or algae. SAF, produced using the most advanced pathways, can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 85 per cent across the entire SAF life cycle.

The study will be initiated in the second quarter of 2022 and is expected to be completed within one year. It may be further extended based on all the parties involved.

In India, already the 3rd-largest domestic aviation market in the world and with a forecasted yearly growth of about 9 per cent going forward, SAF use will be a key element to achieve the targets of carbon reduction and net-zero target of the country by 2070, set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Considering the crucial role of SAF, the aviation players felt the need to evaluate and map the requirements of SAF, feedstock availability, fuel production technologies, logistics systems, and airport infrastructural planning at Indian Airports and make it future-ready.

The joint study on SAF will help the Indian aviation sector assess all these critical factors and help them gear up for the future. The study will also review the regulations in place and what could be the necessary evolutions to permit the SAF to take off in the operations. It will also evaluate the business model and feasibility of the implementation of a pilot project in an appropriate location in India, which could be taken up in a second phase by the partners.

The aviation sector globally contributes to 2-3 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions compared to other sectors. In 2009, the aviation industry collectively agreed under the frame of ATAG (Air Transport Action Group) to the world’s first set of sector-specific climate change targets. These targets include carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and achieving a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emission by 2050 relative to a 2005 baseline.

In 2021, the ATAG commitments were modified to aim at Net Zero in 2050 to be coherent with current global roadmaps defined in the Paris Agreement with the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature limit scenario. To realise this ambitious goal for the aviation sector, ATAG has identified SAF as one of the most promising options.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) also stressed the need for massive deployment of SAF in its work dedicated to LTAG (Long Term Aspirational Goals) recently adopted.

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