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Sustainable Aviation Fuel

SABA announces collective purchase of SAF certificates

SABA announces collective purchase of SAF certificates
A JetBlue Airbus A320 taking off (photo courtesy George Santry / JetBlue). 

In the United States (US), major corporations have announced that they will be purchasing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) certificates through the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA) for nearly 850 000 (US) gallons (≈ 3.2 million litres) of "high-integrity" SAF produced by World Energy Inc., and help JetBlue Airways flights to reduce an estimated 8 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) on a lifecycle basis.

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SAF is a drop-in fuel made with renewable or waste feedstocks that can significantly reduce the carbon pollution from flights.

Currently, SAF makes up less than 0.1 percent of the global jet fuel supply and sells at a significant premium to fossil jet fuel.

The Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA) is a joint initiative of Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) focused on accelerating the path to net-zero aviation by driving investment in, and adoption of, high-integrity SAF and supporting companies, airlines, and freight customers in achieving their climate goals.

First collective corporate buy

According to a statement, this is a leap forward from previous individual SAF certificate purchases by corporations and dramatically strengthens the demand signal aviation customers are sending to the SAF market.

For the first time, companies including Bank of America, Boom Supersonic, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), JPMorgan Chase & Co., Meta, and clean energy nonprofit RMI are joining together through SABA to purchase SAF certificates at scale.

The SAF involved in the SABA transaction is produced by World Energy and reduces lifecycle carbon emissions by 84 percent compared to conventional jet fuel.

SABA members are purchasing SAF certificates linked to 850 000 (US) gallons (≈ 3.2 million litres) of this “high-integrity” SAF, which is being used to fuel JetBlue Airways flights this year.

SAF is the most meaningful way we have to decarbonize the aviation industry, but it will take many stakeholders working together to bring the supply and cost of SAF where we need to meet our net zero goals. We’re incredibly proud of the SAF commitments we’ve already made as an organization, but the collaboration and investment by businesses like those within SABA are what will supercharge our transition to SAF by allowing us to increase our offtake while also supporting those businesses’ own sustainability goals, said Sara Bogdan, Director of Sustainability & ESG at JetBlue.

Competitive procurement process

The competitive procurement process that led to this purchase, open to major US and international air carriers, required proposals to demonstrate that fuel met key sustainability criteria, in alignment with SABA’s goal of scaling the market for high-integrity SAF.

World Energy is honored to be the fuel producer for SABA’s first aggregated SAF purchase. At this pivotal moment SABA plays an important role in addressing aircraft emissions by cultivating trust in SAF and making corporate actions to decarbonize aviation possible, said Adam Klauber, VP of Sustainability & ESG at World Energy.

ENGIE Impact, a global consultancy specializing in sustainability transformation, provided expert support in managing the process and the final selection of the winning bid.

ENGIE Impact has developed purchasing strategies and individual SAF RFPs for major companies and well-known brands, but we were honored to design and execute this first collective procurement process. Aggregating demand was a crucial step toward scaling the SAF market and, ultimately, decarbonizing air travel. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with SABA and bringing this critical Scope 3 emissions abatement tactic to more of our clients as a way of accelerating their progress to Net Zero, said Andre de Fontaine, Director of Sustainability Solutions, ENGIE Impact Americas.

Corporations purchasing SAF certificates pay some or all of the premium associated with SAF, pursuing decarbonization efforts that directly reduce emissions in the aviation sector.

Our support and purchase of SAF through SABA is one way in which we are working to meet our goal of utilizing SAF for at least 20 percent of the company’s annual employee aviation fuel usage by 2030 while spurring broader demand to make SAF more accessible and affordable. We are proud to be a leader in the adoption of SAF and look forward to supporting further aviation advancements as part of the bank’s US$1.5 trillion sustainable finance commitment, said Alex Liftman, Global Environmental Executive at Bank of America.

In addition, SAF certificates provide the nascent market with standardization and transparency for accounting and reporting certified greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

SAF certificates enable corporate aviation customers like Meta to credibly and transparently contribute to decarbonizing the aviation sector. Buying SAF through SABA’s collective procurement process allows us to go one further and send a strong and coordinated demand signal to the market. Basically, if suppliers produce more high-integrity SAF, SABA members will be here to support its uptake, said Devon Lake, Head of Net Zero Strategy at Meta.

Essential funding to increase purchases of SAF

A demand signal for fuel producers to make more high-integrity SAF, which in turn influences SAF cost competitiveness with conventional jet fuel
SABA, whose membership comprises several of the most ubiquitous names in corporate travel.

Achieving a sustainable, zero-carbon future for aviation depends on the development and commercial deployment of fuels free from oil, gas, or ecosystem-damaging bio-feedstocks. SABA aims to play an important role in achieving this critical objective, and we’re glad to see this important first step in that direction, said Mark Brownstein, SVP of Energy Transition at EDF.

Following the successful completion of this first joint procurement, SABA is launching its second competitive procurement process where it seeks to procure SAF certificates across a five-year timeframe.

SABA’s SAFc registry and the first round of SAF procurement enabled Boom to reduce our corporate travel emissions as part of our journey to net zero carbon by 2025. In addition to supporting our goals, SABA provides pivotal support to scale the SAF industry and decarbonize aviation, said Ben Murphy, VP of Sustainability at Boom Supersonic.

This second process will be open to all airlines and fuel providers. SABA expects to increase its annual collective demand by more than 10 times compared to this first process.

The advancement of innovative technology plays a central role in the transition to a lower-carbon economy. JPMorgan Chase is pleased to be collaborating with SABA partners to further the development of the SAF market and support broader efforts for emissions reductions in the aviation sector, said Brian DiMarino, Managing Director, Head of Operational Sustainability at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

SABA members will also be piloting a new registry to bring more transparency, consistency, and integrity to the emerging SAF certificate market.

As part of our commitment to achieving net-zero climate impact by 2030, we are supporting efforts to advance high-integrity sustainable aviation fuels and help to reduce aviation sector emissions. Our participation in this collective purchase agreement is another important step in that journey, contributing to the growing momentum across the market, said David Webb, Chief Sustainability Officer of BCG.

Building trust in the certificate system is crucial to convincing more companies to purchase SAF certificates.

RMI is extremely proud to be part of this historic moment. We began working on the concept of SAF certificates and market demand signals in 2019, and this procurement process is in many ways a culmination of that work. We are also putting our money where our mouth is by purchasing SAF certificates alongside SABA members to help address our own travel emissions from flying, ended Jon Creyts, CEO of RMI.

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