28 November 2022

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Canadian aviation sector launches new initiative to accelerate national sustainable fuels production

A consortium of 60 airlines operating in Canada has created and launched the Canadian Council for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (C-SAF) with a goal to facilitate the production and supply of affordable, low-carbon, made-in-Canada SAF, reports Susan van Dyk. The Council’s next step is to develop an industrial transition roadmap to clarify priority targets for the sector to achieve net zero by 2050. The ultimate goal, said Geoff Tauvette, Executive Director of C-SAF, is to identify the obstacles to SAF development and take steps to remove these barriers to create a thriving SAF industry in Canada. The consortium of domestic, international and cargo airlines operating in Canada own and operate aviation fuel storage and distribution facilities at 11 major airports across Canada, representing about 75% of total jet fuel uptake in Canada, said Tauvette. C-SAF has a further 40 members committed to advancing SAF production and use in Canada that include fuel and feedstock suppliers, fuel producers, aerospace manufacturers, airports, finance and academia.

While airlines were the “genesis” of the Council, they know they need to work with others along the entire value chain to accomplish their goals, said Tauvette. “Decarbonising Canadian aviation requires collaboration between industry, governments, scientists and airlines,” he told GreenAir. “The C-SAF provides a space for a common dialogue to facilitate the exchange of ideas to reduce GHG emissions from aviation and we strongly believe that with everyone working together, change can happen faster.”

He reported C-SAF is targeting midsummer for completion of an ambitious roadmap that will determine priorities and workstreams to address barriers. The Council will be working closely with government to put in place a set of coherent public policies to attract investment and accelerate domestic SAF production. Although electric and hydrogen technologies are being developed in Canada, SAF will have to deliver the bulk of emission reductions in the sector. While SAF can cost up to eight times more than conventional jet fuels and with production costs not expected to be competitive for the foreseeable future, effective policies are critical for SAF acceleration, he said.

There is currently no commercial SAF production in Canada, although several companies are involved in development of SAF production across the entire spectrum of SAF technologies, including gasification, power-to-liquids, hydrothermal liquefaction and co-processing. The HEFA process for SAF production is currently the only fully commercial technology for SAF production worldwide and produced by companies such as Neste and World Energy. Several companies have announced the planned construction of HEFA facilities in Canada that will produce SAF and renewable diesel from fats, oils and greases, although SAF production is not expected before 2025.

Other initiatives to promote SAF in Canada have included ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ competition to find a Canadian producer of SAF. The challenge was announced and launched in 2018 by Natural Resources Canada, a government department. Four finalists were selected for a Green Aviation Fuels Innovation Competition in 2019. The winner will be announced in Spring 2022 and will receive prize money of C$5 million ($4m) to help fully commercialise their technology.

The formation of C-SAF is expected to streamline all these initiatives in cooperation with government departments, with C-SAF acting as the voice for its members.

“We want to promote and implement sound public policies to address aviation’s need for a sustainable, made-in-Canada, affordable supply of aviation fuel. I salute the vision of the industry players and thank all of our partners who will enable Canada to become a leader in the decarbonisation of global aviation,” said Tauvette. He was emphatic that one word should describe the consortium’s approach: “Action!”

SAF can be produced from renewable and sustainable feedstocks that are widely available in Canada. An extensive and sustainably certified forest sector can provide abundant feedstocks such as forest residues that can be converted into SAF. Canada is home to 40% of the world’s sustainably certified forests. Canada is also a significant global producer of canola (similar to rapeseed) that can provide a feedstock for HEFA production, together with waste fats and greases. Canadian canola producers target a total harvest of 26 million tonnes by 2025. According to Tauvette, Canada has all the ingredients to create an affordable and reliable SAF market: an abundance of renewable feedstocks, low-carbon energy sources, climate policies and evolving carbon pricing.

“The aviation industry is in constant evolution to ensure a greener future for our planet. With the launch of the C-SAF, Canada’s aviation sector will remain competitive and create jobs for Canadians while reducing pollution. This initiative will help in Canada’s goal in achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and is a step in the right direction for the aviation industry,” commented the Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra.

Photo: Montreal Trudeau International Airport