Emirates has announced an agreement with Shell Aviation for the supply of over 300,000 gallons of blended sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for use at the airline’s international hub in Dubai (DXB).
The first delivery is expected to commence before the end of the year, making it the first time that SAF is supplied through the international hub’s fuelling system.
The agreement is the latest step forward taken by Emirates as part of its environmental strategy that focuses on three areas: emissions reduction, responsible consumption, and the conservation of wildlife and habitats.
Using blockchain to track SAF delivery and use
Emirates will track SAF delivery and its use data through Avelia, one of the world’s first blockchain powered SAF solutions. Avelia is powered by Shell Aviation and Accenture, with support from Energy Web, together with American Express Global business travel.
Through Avelia, Emirates will purchase the physical SAF and associated environmental attributes to help decarbonise its Scope 1 related emissions, while Scope 3 environmental attributes associated to the same physical SAF will be purchased by Shell Corporate Travel to help decarbonise its related business travel. By using Avelia, the agreement demonstrates how book and claim solutions can enable airlines and corporates to both share the environmental benefits of SAF.
SAF: A more sustainable aviation fuel
SAF is a safe and fully certified drop-in fuel compatible with existing aircraft fleet and airport infrastructure. It can be blended with conventional jet fuel at a ratio of up to 50%, creating an aviation fuel that is significantly lower in lifecycle carbon emissions. In its neat form, SAF can reduce emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel.
Earlier this year, Emirates completed the first 100% SAF-powered demonstration flight in the region, and in November, the world’s first fully SAF transatlantic flight is set to take place by a consortium of Virgin Atlantic, Rollys-Royce, and the Department for Transport among others.
Aviation emissions: A growing problem
The estimated yearly emissions from the airline industry in 2023 represent about 2% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, and these emissions have grown faster than other transportation sectors in recent decades, making the design and implementation of sustainable fuels more important than ever.
Challenges of SAF adoption
However, SAF is expensive, and can cost almost four times as much as typical airline fuel. This is a major challenge to its adoption, but governments and the aviation industry are working to make SAF more affordable.
Another criticism of SAF is that it could potentially compete with food crops for land and resources. SAF is typically made from feedstocks such as used cooking oil, waste fats and oils, and agricultural residues. However, some of these feedstocks can also be used to produce food products.
Some critics worry that as the demand for SAF increases, it could lead to higher prices for food products and make it more difficult for people to access affordable food.
When sharing the news on LinkedIn, Shell Aviation president, Jan Toschka said, “There’s more work to be done – we hope that this agreement can be a springboard for SAF in the UAE and the region more broadly.”
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