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SAF in India: Firms sign MOU to prepare Indian aviation for the future

Airport operators Groupe ADP and GMR Airports together with Airbus, Axens and Safran signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) March 25 to conduct a joint study on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and its potential in India.

The objective of the study, conducted under the lead and coordination of Groupe ADP and GMR Airports and with the expertise of all partners, is to understand and evaluate the demand, challenges and opportunities of supply, infrastructure and fueling, as well as to prepare a business case for SAF production and use in India for all kind of aviation purposes.

SAF is a clean substitute for fossil jet fuels. Rather than being refined from petroleum, SAF is produced from sustainable resources such as waste oils from a biological origin, agricultural residues, municipal solid wastes or algae. SAF produced using the most advanced pathways can provide CO2 emission reduction of up to 85 percent across the entire SAF lifecycle.

The aviation sector globally contributes to 2 to 3 percent of CO2 emissions as compared to other sectors. In 2009, the aviation industry collectively agreed under the frame of the Air Transport Action Group to the world’s first set of sector-specific climate change targets. These targets include carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and achieving 50 percent reduction in carbon emission by 2050 relative to a 2005 baseline. In 2021, the ATAG commitments have been modified to aim at net zero in 2050, in order to be coherent with current global roadmaps defined in the Paris Agreement with a 1.5-degree Celsius temperature limit scenario. To realize this ambitious goal for the aviation sector, ATAG has identified SAF as one of the most promising options. The International Civil Aviation Organization also stressed the need for massive deployment of SAF in its work dedicated to the long-term aspirational goals recently adopted.

In India, already the third-largest domestic aviation market in the world and with a forecasted yearly growth of about 9 percent going forward, SAF use will be a key element to achieve the targets of carbon reduction and net zero by 2070, set by the Indian Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi. Considering the crucial role SAF is going to play within the aviation sector in coming years, it is imperative to evaluate and map the requirements of SAF, feedstock availability, fuel-production technologies, logistics systems and airport infrastructural planning at Indian airports and make it future ready. The joint study on SAF will help the Indian aviation sector in assessing all these critical factors and help them gear up for the future. The study will also review the regulations in place and what could be the necessary evolutions to permit to SAF to take off in operations. In addition, this study will also evaluate the business model and feasibility of the implementation of a pilot project in an appropriate location in India, which could be taken up in a second phase by the partners.

The study will be initiated by mid-year and is expected to be completed within a year. It may be further extended based on the agreement of all the parties involved.



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