In a major step towards accelerating the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, the Centre, last week, announced the projected blending percentage goals for biofuel.
The National Biofuels Coordination Committee (NBCC), chaired by Union Petroleum Minister, has set the initial indicative blending percentage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel in jet fuel, also known as aviation turbine fuel (ATF) at 1 per cent in 2027 and 2 per cent in 2028. These targets will initially apply to international flights.
Earlier, a committee on SAF constituted by the petroleum ministry had recommended an initial SAF blending mandate of 1 per cent from 2025, before scaling it up to 10 per cent over subsequent years in phases.
The announcement made last week was based on comments received from the stakeholders, including the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Niti Aayog and oil marketing companies (OMCs), the capacity of Sustainable Aviation Fuel plants coming up in the country and projected ATF sales.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel, or SAF, has similar chemistry to jet fuel, but is a clean substitute for fossil jet fuels.
Unlike jet fuels which is derived from crude oil, SAF is produced from renewable sources such as agricultural waste, municipal solid waste, and forestry residues.
This means that SAF has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel. As such, it is recognised as offering the most immediate and greatest potential to decarbonise aviation over the next 20-30 years.
In October 2022, member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to a long-term aspirational goal (LTAG) of net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from aviation by 2050 and SAF has long been seen as the industry’s fastest way to reduce emissions.
Although there have been demonstration flights in India using ATF blended with SAF before, the inaugural commercial passenger flight powered by domestically produced SAF took place on 19 May 19 this year
An Air Asia flight flew from Pune to Delhi powered by SAF blended ATF produced by Praj Industries Ltd by using indigenous feedstock, supplied by state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The plane used to operate demonstration flight was powered by the jet fuel with an SAF blend of a little less than 1 per cent.