EXCLUSIVE US Weighs 2050 Target to Wean Airlines From Fossil Fuels
Aug. 10 (Reuters) – The administration of US President Joe Biden quietly discusses a 2050 target date for weaning planes from fossil fuels as part of the White House’s broader campaign to fight climate change, said sources familiar with the matter.
In recent days, the White House has stepped up its efforts to transform the U.S. economy, including pushing climate-focused infrastructure spending and getting automakers to join its campaign for increased fuel use. electric vehicles. Read more
Biden administration considers incentives to support private sector production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as it seeks ways to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the hard-to-electrify aviation industry .
The administration is considering a 2050 target for airlines to fly 100 percent jet fuel from renewable sources, said two sources, who spoke anonymously to be candid about the talks.
Discussions are still in their early stages with few details available, the sources said. The United States and Europe are trying to find ways to encourage the production and adoption of SAF, which is two to five times more expensive than standard jet fuel.
Sustainable aviation fuel, made from raw materials such as used cooking oil and animal fats, currently accounts for only a tiny amount of overall jet fuel use.
The administration has confirmed that SAF is on its radar but has not commented or confirmed the 2050 target.
“As part of the Build Back Better program, President Biden has proposed catalytic investments to propel innovation and the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels,” said Ali Zaidi, Deputy National Climate Advisor for the White House.
“The administration is committed to advancing climate solutions across all sectors and segments of the economy – with the urgency of the climate crisis.”
CARROT AND STICK
The aviation industry cannot rely on electrification as a short-term solution due to the weight of the batteries.
The Biden administration, which has set itself a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, has discussed incentives and targets to increase FAS. It is currently taking a different approach from Europe, where regulators are seeking to force suppliers to mix increasing amounts of SAF into their kerosene, a move that US airlines oppose. Read more
The White House and industry groups are expected to meet virtually later this month to promote alternative jet fuels, though specific steps that could be taken are unclear, three sources said.
Environmentalists say a European-style mandate is needed to increase production and lower the price of SAF. However, Angel Alvarez Alberdi, secretary general of the European Association for Waste-Based and Advanced Biofuels, is concerned that the EU’s mandate will redirect the limited pool of affordable raw materials available to make SAFs.
“This could be a carrot and stick debate,” John Slattery, director of engine manufacturer GE Aviation, a unit of General Electric Co (GE.N), said of SAF’s request in a recent Eurocontrol podcast.
Global demand for jet fuel is currently around 200 billion liters per year, but air transport group IATA estimates that only 100 to 120 million liters of SAF will be produced in 2021, or only 0.05% of total fuel. .
Planes and engines capable of running without fossil fuels are expected around 2025 and 2030, depending on the model. Current engines can theoretically operate with 50% sustainable blends. Read more
It is not yet clear whether the government’s efforts will be successful in making sustainable fuel more affordable for airlines affected by the pandemic. Fuel is the second most important expense for airlines after labor.
Refiners are making more renewable diesel right now because federal and state governments are offering more incentives, like California’s 45-cent-per-gallon credit.
Congress is debating a tax credit of up to $ 2 per gallon for FAS. If such credit were available, World Energy, America’s largest producer of SAF, would be able to sell its SAF at about the same price as conventional fuel, said Bryan Sherbacow, the company’s chief commercial officer.
World Energy’s Los Angeles area plant uses about a third of its annual 25 million gallon capacity to manufacture aviation fuel, with the rest producing other renewable fuels. The company is betting that SAF will become more affordable, as it increases the plant’s SAF capacity to around 150 million gallons by 2023. read more
If the incentives were balanced, “we would probably make a lot more jet fuel,” Sherbacow said.
Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Stephanie Kelly in New York Additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Valerie Volcovici and David Shepardson in Washington and Laura Sanicola in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis
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