Airline group working to develop sustainable jet biofuels pledges renewed support for standards process
Mon 24 May 2010 – The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG) has pledged continuing support to the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), the Swiss-based body that is seeking to develop internationally approved standards in biofuel sustainability. The RSB has been hit by the recent resignations of two top biofuel trade organizations, the European Bioethanol Fuel Association (eBIO) and the European Biodiesel Board. In an open letter to the RSB Secretariat, SAFUG members said the RSB effort was pivotal in enabling the development of global and regional aviation fuel markets, and important for the future of the aviation industry.
In its letter, SAFUG said it supported the RSB multi-stakeholder process underway to develop “a robust, usable meta-standard, and implementation system for biofuel sustainability.”
Noting the challenge of implementing a harmonization of standards across regions of the world, where many separate standards were being pursued, SAFUG said the well-run RSB process would provide a global industry like aviation with the ability to utilize sustainable fuels by integrating and translating the different standards and common elements.
According to Terrance Scott, a spokesman for Boeing, a leading affiliate member of SAFUG, the group intends to work with biofuel developers, feedstock producers, NGOs, financiers and others towards a “solid” sustainability certification system that would work for all stakeholders on a global basis.
“This is not an easy thing, but it is an absolutely critical element,” he told GreenAir Online. “We do not support efforts, as some have pushed for, to end the multi-stakeholder nature of RSB at the expense of NGOs, end-users, workers’ rights groups and others to essentially effect a biofuel developers’ takeover of the RSB standard-setting process. Such efforts are simply not in the interest of anyone, including biofuel developers.”
More than 50 entities had signed similar letters of support for the RSB, Scott stated. “All want to ensure that the RSB standards and implementation process works, and recognize that process as the best hope for a harmonized system based on broad consensus,” he maintained. “This approach clearly overlaps with the aviation industry’s sustainable fuel supply interests. While national standards are going to vary, we do see enough common elements and that there is room for harmonization, and, via feedback, inter-regional dialogue and activities, and opportunities to enhance that harmonization process.”
Scott points to an initiative recently launched to explore the pathways and challenges to accelerate the development and commercialization of a sustainable aviation fuels industry in Australia and New Zealand. A study, ‘The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Road Map’, will be carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s premier scientific body, and will bring together a diverse range of stakeholders from airlines, engine and airframe manufacturers, biomass experts, fuel suppliers, government and NGOs.
“This is exactly the sort of regional assessment, using RSB as a framework, which is already helping to build a platform for future standards development efforts,” he said.
SAFUG airline members represent around 20% of the airline industry’s total fuel demand – around 40 million tonnes a year. British Airways’ Head of Environment, Jonathon Counsell, recently stated SAFUG had a target to supply a minimum of 600 million gallons of sustainable biofuel per year by 2015 into the airline sector (see story).