Virtual Decarbonization: Etihad, World Energy establish framework for long-term Book & Claim SAF deal

November 17, 2022 |

From COP27 comes news that Etihad Airway and World Energy signed a MoU for long-term strategic partnership to decarbonize flights through SAF delivered on a book and claim system.. Etihad is the first commercial airline to participate in World Energy’s recently launched service for airline and corporate climate leaders taking real action to achieve net-zero goals.

The Etihad-World Energy partnership backstory

We reported at the end of October that Etihad Airways had partnered with World Energy to operate the first NetZero flight powered entirely by SAF Book & Claim, delivering delegates to COP27 with zero net emissions. The airline operated its Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi service, routed via COP27 venue Sharm-El-Sheik to showcase the challenges and opportunities of SAF.

Etihad bought SAF for the flight provided by fueling partner World Energy. However, the flight will use conventional Jet-A1 fuel, and the physical SAF that Etihad has purchased will be delivered into the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) fuel system and used on flights by other airlines out of that airport.

In short, Etihad bought the carbon attributes from World Energy —  then, Etihad used a conventional fuel in Egypt and the actual low-carbon fuel became part of the tank farm at LAX and was used minus the carbon benefits by the actual airlines that would have loaded the fuel.

How Book & Claim works 

World Energy, working with logistics partners, will deliver the physical SAF to LAX, which will displace conventional fossil fuel required by aircraft flying out of the airport. Etihad will receive the emission reductions in the form of SAF certificates (SAFc) once World Energy blends the SAF and it achieves “drop-in” ASTM certification. Etihad in turn will be able to include their customers on the certificates, which will allow those customers to mitigate the emissions related to business flights. Both the physical SAF delivery and the SAFc ownership transfer will be independently verified by an auditor.

Why it works

The advantages are clear, and they are two. Producers do not have to haul physical fuel long-distances, creating energy demand and adding to the carbon intensity of the fuel. Second, airlines do not have to wait for producers to build a nearby massive refinery with the economies of scale that bring competitive prices. Instead, massive refineries can achieve low costs and compete effectively as a fuel, at the same time as they deliver substantial and substantiated carbon benefits.

In the Digest’s view, Book & Claim will become the dominant delivery and carbon measuring mechanism over the next few decades. It drives down cost and carbon intensity, a win-win for all parties, it concentrates a highly distributed manufacturing network that will benefit from concentration — not only from a carbon point of view, but in terms of personnel, training, auditing and supply-chain optimization. 

The Book & Claim MOU between Etihad and World Energy establishes the pending agreement between the two companies, which is the first of its kind, long-term contract to supply an airline with the environmental attributes associated with SAF produced in Los Angeles, California.

The NetZero flight is the latest in a series of “EcoFlight” tests since Etihad launched its Greenliner program in 2020, each one testing and proving a series of concepts. 

RSB on the case

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the organization that established this system, is working with Etihad and World Energy to include this flight as part of the RSB Book & Claim Manual testing as an official “pilot.” All actions will comply with the RSB draft guidance, which includes third-party verification. 

Reaction from the stakeholders

“We are making long-term commitments with leaders to decarbonize transport,” said Gene Gebolys, CEO, World Energy. “Our work with Etihad is strategic and rooted in purpose. It will drive innovation and accountability so we can scale sustainable fuels and make a real and impactful reduction toward effectively decarbonizing aviation.”

Mariam Alqubaisi, Head of Sustainability & Business Excellence, Etihad Airways, said: “Our NetZero flight proved Book & Claim is the only feasible path to net-zero commercial aviation using current technology and is the transition framework required until the supply of sustainable aviation fuel reaches its maturity and availability. Net-zero commercial aviation is possible, but we have to be honest as an industry and say there are significant logistical challenges to using SAF at present. We are committed to using actual SAF on our flights from the U.S. and across the world when we can secure a sustainable and efficient supply at the airports we serve.”

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