27 September 2022

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Shell, Accenture and Amex GBT launch SAF book-and-claim platform for business travel

Shell, Accenture and American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) have joined forces to launch Avelia, a blockchain-powered digital sustainable aviation fuel book-and-claim platform for business travel. Offering around 1 million gallons of SAF, enough, they say, to power nearly 15,000 individual business traveller flights from London to New York, the partners claim Avelia is the largest book-and-claim pilot at launch. It has been developed by Shell and Accenture, with technical support from the Energy Web Foundation, and includes Amex GBT’s travel management services to aggregate global business demand for SAF, with the aim of stimulating SAF supply and helping the aviation industry’s pathway towards net zero emissions. Book-and-claim enables airlines and their business customers to simultaneously reduce emissions in their respective scopes. It allows travellers to pay for SAF and claim the benefits even if SAF is not available at their departure airport, and is instead fed into another aircraft at an airport where it is available. The partners say Avelia will ensure transparency and accountability by avoiding issues such as double-counting.

“SAF is a key enabler of decarbonisation in the aviation industry, and it’s available today. However, it’s currently scarce and costs more than conventional jet fuel,” said Jan Toschka, President, Shell Aviation. “Avelia will help trigger demand for SAF at scale, providing confidence to suppliers like us to further increase investment in production, and in turn helping to lower the price point for these fuels.”

The three launch partners are the platform’s first customers and welcomed other corporations to join it and their efforts “to drive industry change”. Shell has committed to purchasing the environmental attributes equivalent to 100,000 gallons of SAF over the pilot phase of the Avelia programme. It says the commitment will be increased “as soon as more SAF is available” in order to achieve its ambition to abate 45% of Shell’s corporate travel emissions through SAF by 2030.

Rachel Barton, Europe Strategy Lead at Accenture, said the vision for the Avelia platform was to bring airlines, corporates, cargo players and SAF suppliers together “in a trusted ecosystem that no individual company could build or access on its own.” She added: “Blockchain technology will be piloted to help ensure trust via data integrity, validate proof of ownership and enable transparent tracking of the environmental benefits of SAF for customers.”

Scalable co-investment models that allow companies to co-fund the cost of SAF are crucial to significantly scale SAF supply and use, say the partners. Once approved by industry bodies as an acceptable form of emissions reduction, say the partners, Avelia could enable airlines and companies who choose SAF to authenticate, record and report the associated emissions reduction benefits of SAF towards their voluntary ESG reporting.

“An industry-accepted carbon accounting mechanism, like book-and-claim, is key for such programmes to credibly grow,” they believe. “Avelia’s data security and credibility are key to reaching scientific and market consensus for ways to allocate SAF’s environmental attributes and help accelerate the decarbonisation of aviation.”

Paul Abbott, CEO of Amex GBT, said: “A truly viable route to decarbonising air travel is now open for business. We’re calling on all companies to join us and share the costs and benefits of SAF across the travel and aviation sectors. Airlines will gain access to the buying capacity of businesses, drawing from Amex GBT’s 19,000 customers around the world.”

The development of the Avelia book-and-claim platform was welcomed by Lauren Uppink Calderwood, Head of Aviation, Travel and Tourism at the World Economic Forum. “We look forward to integrating learnings from these efforts into our broader SAFc Framework programme. Sharing the price premium of SAF offers exciting potential to address the aviation industry’s supply-and-demand impasse over scaling SAF.”

Elena Schmidt, Executive Director of the standards body Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), said book-and-claim had the potential to significantly increase market access to SAF. “It allows airlines and their customers to invest in SAF and purchase its environmental claims without needing to be tied to a production site,” she said. “As long as the value chain is based on a robust system, such as the one developed by RSB in collaboration with our multi-stakeholder community, the net environmental effect of SAF will be ensured. RSB supports innovative and collaborative partnerships that build a more sustainable environment and bio-based circular economy, and so applauds this new programme.

“We are delighted to welcome long-time RSB member Shell, along with Amex GBT and partners in the RSB book-and-claim development.”

Avelia uses a blockchain-powered book-and-claim method that follows the Smart Freight Centre and MIT’s Center for Transportation & Logistics SAF GHG accounting and insetting guidelines. It runs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

“Decarbonising hard to abate sectors like aviation will be essential to reaching a net zero future, and technology has a critical role to play in this transformation,” commented Elisabeth Brinton, Corporate VP Sustainability for Microsoft. “We’re proud to support Shell in this effort to expand the market for SAF.”

Photo: Shell