Sustainable Fuel Production Tripled In 2022, Compared With Last Year


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production will have tripled by year-end compared with last year’s output. The association projects a total of at least 300 million liters (79.3 million gallons) of SAF to have been delivered in 2022—up from 100 million liters last year. More optimistic projections call for a final tally of up to 450 million liters before the ball drops in Times Square this weekend.

Industry projections call for production to reach 30 billion liters (7.9 billion gallons) by 2030.

 “There was at least triple the amount of SAF in the market in 2022 than in 2021,” said IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh. “And airlines used every drop, even at very high prices! If more was available, it would have been purchased.”

“That makes it clear that it is a supply issue and that market forces alone are insufficient to solve it. Governments, who now share the same 2050 net zero goal, need to put in place comprehensive production incentives for SAF. It is what they did to successfully transition economies to renewable sources of electricity. And it is what aviation needs to decarbonize.”

The world’s airlines see SAF as a prime component to achieving their pledge to arrive at a net of zero CO2 emissions by 2050 (net zero means that actual emissions are offset by measurable efforts to cut down on CO2 emission is other areas, such as planting trees or preserving forests). Experts project that the renewable fuel could account for up to two-thirds of the carbon emissions reductions needed to achieve the goal, involving the production of 450 billion liters of SAF annually by 2050.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. And once again for effect:
    CO2 is plant food, a primary feedstock for photosynthesis which is the engine of life on earth. It is a trace gas which means the plants are probably starving now. In that light, this mass-psychosis to minimize it seems astonishingly self-destructive.

    • Sorry, but that’s about the least scientific assessment I can imagine of an incredibly complex issue. I hope you don’t expect anyone to be swayed by this argument.

      • I present three facts, a postulate and an opinion. It is indeed a complex subject but brevity and concise communication is appropriate here. Dogma (unquestionable ideas) is exactly the opposite of science.

    • “Trace” amounts can have huge effects. A trace amount of acetaminophen can make a headache go away.

      The same amount of arsenic would kill you.

      A “trace” amount of lead in gasoline will keep an engine from destroying itself.

      The above examples are roughly equal to the “trace” amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

      • Your examples indicate a conviction that CO2 is a toxin and only that. Should we then strive to cleanse the atmosphere of this toxin? What then would you eat without photosynthesis? We are all herbivores ultimately through eating animals that are herbivores.

  2. I see no starving plants hereabouts due to lack of CO2. Why are the scientific data constituting mass psychosis?

  3. Well, you wouldn’t would you? Much of the oil deposits in the world are under deserts, which means the land was formerly lush with green life. Scientific data do not constitute a mass psychosis. The two are not comparable. Scientific consensus may be influenced by a mass psychosis and mass psychosis can be provoked by alarmist opinions of people hoping to be considered scientists.

  4. You guys can disagree all you want on the science, but the political fallout will kill more of us faster than “climate change”.

    The fuel shortages in the US were totally avoidable, and conversion to biofuel refining was one of the reasons. The government has totally messed up the refinery sector so that we are unnecessarily running inefficiently. That means wasted resources and more unwanted pollution of all sorts whether you care about carbon or not.

    We could be reducing fuel use with taxes that would bring in income while still paying less at the pump, but our dogmatic DC masters cannot be bothered to get themselves out of the way.

    Add the intransigence in transportation and labor policies to the environmental mismanagement (whether you believe in climate change or not), and we are back in the seventies with no Ronald Reagan or similar explaining what’s really going wrong.

    We need to fire all the incumbents at the next election. Seriously, all of them. Our system allows for these little revolutions, and we aren’t taking advantage.

  5. I’m reminded of the parable of the Blind Men And The Elephant. Each blind man touches a different part of the elephant and comes up with a different description of what it looks like. Finally their disagreements leads to a fight.

    As several commenters have said Climate change is a complex problem, as is its impact on human civilization. Sure, while plants can survive on 150 ppm CO2, they grow even faster on higher levels up to around 4000 ppm. That doesn’t mean that is good for humankind. Humans have prospered in the last 500 years with CO2 levels between 280 to 415 ppm, but that doesn’t mean that those are ideal levels for human beings. In fact most of that prosperity has resulted from the availability of low cost energy in the form of fossil based fuels and an evolutionary path that proves we can accomplish more working together than working on our own.

    Sustainable aviation fuels are a step in the right direction in that they can substantially reduce the amount of new carbon added to the atmosphere from commercial aviation, but the problem is that they are currently about two and half times the cost of fossil fuel based jet fuels (although global politics and the war in Ukraine have recently substantially increased the cost of fossil based fuels and reduced that factor significantly). Those prices will come down with development but a longer term lower cost solution is needed for the commercial aviation industry. That may ultimately come from hybrid electric propulsion systems. We will see.

  6. No one seems to really know what SAFs are or how they are made, including the real, full energy and environmental footprint. All these discussions are without the benefit of in depth knowledge of the material and actually how it is made and from what sources. It is one thing to say that all of the relatively miniscule amount of SAF being produced at 250% the cost of petroleum-based jet fuel is being sold entirely due to woke virtue signalers, it is quite another to assume that substantial quantities will find a welcoming market at similar non-economic prices.

  7. This “net zero carbon emissions “ scheme is nothing more than an elaborate shell game, giving governments the excuse to charge more taxes and waste that money on things that have nothing to do with “carbon emissions” or climate change. The Earth has always had climate change throughout time, otherwise the Great Lakes would still be frozen over. The only reason airlines may be willing to go along with the higher cost of “SAF” is that they expect something in return. If not then the sale of “SAF” will wither away due to excessive cost of that fuel. As I said earlier, nothing but a shell game.

  8. I understood years ago that we hear the most from those at either end of the genetics on these topics. Oppositional defiance is a powerful thing. Add a sprinkle of narcissistic inability to consider emotionally unpalatable arguments and viola, your dish is served.

    Aviation insists we understand that power plus attitude equals performance. Yet plenty of aviators are unable to see that this applies to the planet just the same as the 172. I am irritated by plenty of people who are on the correct side of this one, yet crying about it online is not a good use of anyone’s precious time. There is too much important and exciting stuff to do in the real world.

  9. Can someone please provide me with the data set that proves the correlation of increased temperature with increased concentration of CO2? There is none. All the hand wringing has been based on postulations; and those computer predictions have been wildly wrong. What’s the highest greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere? Water vapor. After last week’s weather it should be obvious that man can tolerate warmer temperatures a lot better that cold ones. A prominent Russian mathematician/astrophysicist, Prof. Zharkhova, has developed an algorithm for predicting the sun’s cycles; she believes we’re at the precipice of Maunder Minimum type event. We might need some global warming if she’s correct. Check out this video by Tony Heller from which reveals some salient facts about climate alarmism. Enjoy.

  10. Regardless of all the comments above, reality is that the vast majority of people (when given a choice) will choose the least cost for such commodity items.

    • Thanks for a dose of reality!

      The airplanes I manage–turbines AND pistons–will not patronize a virtue-signalling FBO that sells SAF. The aviation industry spends a lot of time and money to assure customers that they can care for airplanes safely and economically. That goodwill evaporates when the FBO engages in virtue signalling–it means the FBO values being “woke” more than the safe and economical care of the aircraft for the customer.

      While free to sell ANY legal product–businesses whose owners or managers actually believe that CO2 is a threat to the Earth are not showing enough business acumen to actually research the perceived problem–they are only attempting to curry favor of “climate alarmists” and those businesses that pander to the mob mentality by boycotting a legal product (Jet-A) based on theory rather than fact.

      Aviation has always been a business that makes decisions based on FACTS–not unproven THEORY. Demanding SAF in fuel is like WISHING THE WEATHER WOULD GET BETTER.

      Fortunately, pilots don’t operate on “hope”–I’ve never had a pilot ask if we had SAF fuel at my FBO–or at any OTHER FBO.