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Ricardo selected by EU Aviation Safety Agency to establish SAF clearinghouse

Photo: Ricardo

Ricardo, a global strategic environmental and engineering consulting company, announced July 9 that it has been chosen by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to lead a consortium creating Europe’s first ever sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) clearinghouse. 

 


Working alongside fellow consortium members Trinity College Dublin, Intertek, Politecnico di Torino, Envisa, and Spark Legal and Policy Consulting, Ricardo experts will establish a network of European and international testing facilities and guide fuel producers in assessing the environmental impacts of their products and in meeting strict eligibility criteria.

 


The EU SAF clearinghouse has already received its first sustainable aviation fuel and is currently testing it.

 


“The demand  for SAF will grow ever more to meet the goals set in the ReFuelEU aviation regulation and increasingly reduce the emissions from aviation,” said Maria Rueda, EASA’s strategy and safety management director. “Via the EU SAF clearinghouse, EASA wants to ensure that the fuel industry gets the support needed to succeed in developing SAF for aviation, so that their innovation efforts are not in vain and more SAF is brought to the market.” 

 


SAF is a drop-in alternative to conventional petroleum-derived hydrocarbons.

 


It replaces conventional fossil-based aviation fuel on a 1:1 basis but has a smaller carbon footprint.

 


SAF is viewed as the most viable route in the short- to medium-term to reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions and meet regulatory targets.  

 


The ReFuelEU aviation regulation, adopted in 2023, mandates a target of a 2 percent SAF production in European aviation by 2025, rising to 6 percent by 2030, and a further increase of up to 70 percent by 2050.

 


SAF currently represents less than 0.05 percent of total EU aviation-fuel use.

 


Furthermore, the supply chain has found scaling volumes to the required commercial levels to be a significant challenge, with new products required to meet strict specifications and follow rigorous testing before they can be used in commercial aircraft. 

 


Like its counterparts in the U.S. and U.K., the EU SAF clearinghouse will support the approval of new SAF pathways using the ASTM D4054 process, the recognized industry standard practice for evaluating new aviation fuels and additives by acting as a virtual forum for advice on data quality, testing facilities and qualification.

 


This will reduce the high cost and complexity of certification and is seen as key to unlocking higher volumes and encouraging a variety of feedstocks.

 


The EU SAF clearinghouse will also provide sustainability services for prospective fuel producers and focus on nurturing a mature SAF supply chain in Europe, participating at technical events, advising on research and innovation, and promoting policy coherence.

 


Rui Neiva, the principal consultant for sustainable transport at Ricardo and program manager for the EU SAF clearinghouse, said the clearinghouse will spur the market for SAF in Europe further afield.

 


“The clearinghouse will be an important milestone in the journey to a cleaner, more sustainable aviation sector in Europe,” Neiva said. “The certification of new fuels, for example, will unlock new opportunities for SAF production and the diversification of feedstocks. We have extensive experience of bringing together networks of technical organizations in sectors such as automotive, aerospace and urban transit to collaborate on specific industry challenges. We will be bringing the same organizational expertise to this project, and we look forward to working with our consortium partners, the wider aviation industry and EASA to deliver a service recognized for its efficiency, impartiality and deep technical insight.” 

 


Now officially open to applications, the EU SAF clearinghouse is calling for any stakeholders—primarily fuel producers—to get in touch via its dedicated website for all and any queries in relation to the development, sustainability, testing and qualification of sustainable aviation fuel. 

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