Several leading air carriers have been accepted as members to the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group as announced by Boeing today. Existing members welcome the new group members Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, TUIfly, and Virgin Blue.
Current airline members include Air France, Air New Zealand, ANA (All Nippon Airways), Cargolux, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, SAS, and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Boeing and Honeywell’s UOP, a refining technology developer, are associate members.
Since its launch in the fall of 2008, the User Group has established a foundation of airlines, environmental organizations, research projects, and practices and principles that can help accelerate the commercialization and availability of sustainable biofuels.
User Group members have pledged to work through the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), a global multi-stakeholder initiative, consisting of leading environmental organizations, financiers, biofuel developers, biofuel-interested petroleum companies, the transportation sector, developing-world poverty alleviation associations, research entities, and governments. All RSB and User Group members agree that working across sectors, interests, and regions is the best approach to ensure the next generations of biofuels are developed in a sustainable manner.
Working through User Group representatives, aviation industry input is being included in “Version 1” RSB principles and standards, which will be the first widely-reviewed and accepted set of international standards for sustainable biofuel production. These standards will be tested, improved, and tailored via future User Group and RSB stakeholder efforts and verified through peer-reviewed research and development collaboration.
These strategic efforts by User Group members and RSB stakeholders are focused on making renewable fuel sources available that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while lessening commercial aviation’s dependence on fossil fuels and potentially reduce aviation sector exposure to fuel price volatility.
In addition to previously announced research projects on algae and jatropha curcus, the group will also launch a sustainability assessment of halophytes, a class of plants that thrive in saltwater habitat, later this year. That effort will assess lifecycle CO2 emissions and socio-economic impacts. Additional details will be announced closer to the project launch date. All of these sustainability assessments will be subject to scientific peer review and used by the RSB process to guide improvements to “Version 1.”
“Aviation is stepping up and addressing its environmental and fuel challenges, and the work being done by these industry leaders is at the forefront of that effort,” said Billy Glover, managing director, Environmental Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Tremendous technical progress has been demonstrated over the past several years, and as we move closer to approval to use these advanced generation fuels, we are rapidly developing sustainability practices and conducting ongoing research to ensure we remain on the right path.”
To be eligible for membership, group members must subscribe to sustainability criteria that stipulate the following:
– Jet fuel plant sources should be developed in a manner that is non-competitive with food and where biodiversity impacts are minimized; in addition, the cultivation of those plant sources should not jeopardize drinking water supplies.
– Total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from plant growth, harvesting, processing, and end-use should be significantly reduced compared to those associated with jet fuels from fossil sources.
– In developing economies, development projects should include provisions or outcomes that improve socio-economic conditions for small-scale farmers who rely on agriculture to feed them and their families and that do not require the involuntary displacement of local populations.
– High conservation value areas and native eco-systems should not be cleared and converted for jet fuel plant source development.