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Govt may mandate 1% green jet fuel in all commercial flights by '25: Puri

Transition within 2 years, says Puri amid global pressure on Indian carriers

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Local production of SAF is critical as Indian airlines will have to offset carbon emissions generated from international flights from 2027

Subhayan Chakraborty New Delhi

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India is looking to mandate the blending of 1 per cent of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in all domestic commercial flights within the next two years, said Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

On Friday, Puri attended an event to mark the first such flight, powered by a 1 per cent blend of indigenously produced SAF at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Speaking to reporters after the Pune-Delhi AirAsia flight landed, Puri said the government was working to quickly raise the level of domestic SAF production and was aiming to make 1 per cent blending mandatory in all domestic commercial flights by 2025. This may be extended to 5 per cent in the next few years, he said.

“By 2025, if we target to blend 1 per cent SAF blending in Jet fuel, India would require around 140 million litres of SAF per annum. More ambitiously, if we target for 5 per cent SAF blend, India requires around 700 million litres of SAF per annum”, the Minister said.

Officials said the SAF used on Friday was produced by Praj Industries, which, in partnership with Gevo Inc, has developed a breakthrough in Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) technology for the production of SAF using bio-based feedstock. The SAF samples underwent detailed testing at IOCL laboratories before it was blended for the special flight.

State-owned-IOCL is currently firming up plans to establish a plant in Panipat, Haryana, to make SAF with the same technology. To come up at IOCL’s Panipat refinery at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore over a period of two-and-a-half years, it will convert corn-based, cellulosic, or sugar-based ethanol into SAF, officials have confirmed. It would have an initial capacity to produce 85,000 tonne of fuel annually.

Business Standard had reported last month that IOCL may offer minority equity stakes to domestic airlines for the production plant.

Production of SAF using sugarcane molasses as indigenous feedstock is a major step towards self-reliance and de-carbonisation of the aviation sector in line with India’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2070, Puri stressed.

Global changes

Globally, since 2011 more than 450,000 commercial flights have been flown using SAF. To reduce the carbon footprint of the industry, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has adopted an aspirational goal of 2 per cent annual fuel efficiency improvement through 2050. It also wants to hit Carbon Neutral Growth from 2020, and net zero by 2050.

Local production of SAF is critical as Indian airlines will have to offset carbon emissions generated from international flights from 2027. This is part of the global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) scheme launched by ICAO.

CORSIA is implemented in three phases, out of which participation is voluntary in the first two phases (2021-26). While India has decided not to participate in the voluntary phases, local carriers would need to follow their international counterparts after that date.

European countries such as Norway and Sweden have made it mandatory for fuel suppliers to blend conventional fuel with small quantities of SAF. The European Commission has proposed a SAF blending mandate for fuel supplied at its airports with a minimum share of SAF increasing from 2 per cent in 2025 to 63 per cent in 2050.

What is SAF?

SAF refers to waste-derived aviation fuel. Unlike traditional jet fuels, it is made from various sources such as used cooking oil, agricultural waste, municipal solid waste, fats or non-food crops, and forestry residues. This means it has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent. As on date, Airbus and Boeing aircraft are capable of flying with up to a 50 per cent blend of SAF. Both aim to enable 100 per cent SAF capability by 2030.

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First Published: May 19 2023 | 8:08 PM IST

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