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Boeing CEO Sees No Cheap Way To Decarbonize The Aviation Sector

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) can never achieve price parity with jet fuel to be able to compete with conventional fuels and help decarbonize the aviation sector, according to The Boeing Company’s president and chief executive officer David Calhoun.  

SAF, a liquid fuel currently used in commercial aviation, can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says

Airlines and many other players in the aviation industry pin their hopes on SAF as a way to reduce emissions from the sector. Those emissions in 2021 accounted for over 2% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, having grown faster in recent decades than road, rail, or shipping, per data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).  

However, Boeing’s boss is not so optimistic when it comes to the costs of producing SAF.

“We will create scale and get more economic,” Calhoun told the Financial Times, but warned,

“No, I don’t think we will ever achieve the price of Jet A. I don’t think that will ever happen.”

A growing number of airlines are betting on increased use of SAF to reduce their carbon footprint in a sector where emissions are hard to abate. Despite numerous pledges from airlines and government support for SAF production, the alternative of the petroleum-based jet fuel faces challenges in supply, costs, and feedstock, analysts say.  

Currently, the supply of SAF is still limited, even if governments support research and production.

According to the IEA, “increasing SAF use from less than 0.1% of all aviation fuels in 2021 to around 10% by 2030 in line with the Net Zero Scenario will require investment in production capacity and new policies such as fuel taxes, low-carbon fuel standards and mandatory blending.”

Still, energy supermajors and large airlines are betting on SAF to help decarbonize the aviation sector. TotalEnergies and BP have started investing in and producing SAF, while United Airlines early this year launched a $100-million investment vehicle to support start-ups developing and exploring the production of sustainable aviation fuel in an effort to accelerate the research, production, and technologies associated with SAF.  


By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Pasander on May 27 2023 said:
    There's no way we can continue flying like today without fossil fuels.

    I once calguesstimated we'd need roughly half a million 6MW wind turbines to produce enough synthetic jet fuel to fly like it was 2019. (Producing that much biofuel is not feasible.)

    I didn't even account what it would take to acquire the CO2 for the process.

    Therefore, I think we will stop flying fairly soon.

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