The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Much More Modest Challenge Roadmap

September 29, 2022 |

As the authors of an impressive 126-page study on a Sustainable Aviation Fuels Roadmap that leads the Digest coverage today note in their opening remarks:

“The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge is a U.S. government-wide approach to work with industry to reduce cost, enhance sustainability, and expand production to achieve 3 billion gallons per year of domestic sustainable aviation fuel production that achieve a minimum of a 50% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) compared to conventional fuel by 2030 and 100% of projected aviation jet fuel use, or 35 billion gallons of annual production, by 2050.”

A long sentence, for sure, a challenge, yes, but how grand?

Seems to me that we can sum up the challenge in about 126 words. Here goes.

1. Convert 3.1 billion gallons of available domestic fuel ethanol to 1.5 billion gallons of SAF by 2030, at 3 refineries each producing 500 million gallons from 1.05 billion gallons of ethanol intermediate.

2. Develop a sustainable, affordable incentive that persuades the makers of renewable diesel (and have some 8+ billion gallons of domestic US production on the planning board) to make 20% SAF in their fuel configuration.

3. By 2030, demonstrate and deploy alternative technologies that utilize biomethane or its precursors to make SAF. Provide loan guarantees for the first deployment of those technologies. Design incentives to bridge any cost differential between conventional jet and SAF.

4. If #2 fails, double #1.

5. Deploy at scale, rinse and repeat, until the 2050 goal is achieved.

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