Singapore Airlines (SIA) and its low-cost sibling Scoot have started using sustainable aviation fuel on flights from their Changi Airport home base following the launch this week of a 12-month pilot programme in which neat SAF will be blended locally, certificated and delivered via existing infrastructure. Under the initiative, driven by the Singapore government, the waste-to-fuel producer Neste will provide 1,000 tonnes of SAF, which will be blended with refined jet fuel at ExxonMobil’s Singapore facilities. Use of the fuel is expected to cut aircraft carbon emissions by 2,500 tonnes. The programme is a collaboration between SIA, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and GenZero, a division of state investment company Temasek, which is focused on global decarbonisation projects. In a parallel initiative by CAAS, SIA and Temasek, SAF credits will be available for purchase from this month, initially enabling corporate travellers and freight forwarders to help cut the carbon emissions of passenger and cargo flights, reports Tony Harrington.
“There is broad-based consensus amongst government and industry leaders around the world that the decarbonisation of the aviation sector and the achievement of net zero targets by airlines will require large-scale SAF production,” said CAAS Director-General Han Kok Juan. “This first successful uplift of blended SAF is an important milestone in Singapore’s journey towards sustainable aviation. It shows that the Singapore Changi Airport is SAF-ready.” The programme will also provide operational experience in adoption of SAF, which the CAAS is studying as part of a Sustainable Air Hub Blueprint to be published early next year.
Lee Wen Fen, SVP Corporate Planning for Singapore Airlines, said the start of the pilot was “an important milestone in the SIA Group’s decarbonisation journey and a clear demonstration of the company’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Working together with our partners, we will continue to support the adoption of SAF in Singapore.”
Geraldine Chin, Chairman and Managing Director of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific, added: “We are proud to supply certified SAF to Singapore Airlines in this inaugural pilot. ExxonMobil is bringing its deep capabilities in fuels manufacturing and logistics to help customers such as SIA achieve their net zero ambitions. We are focused on growing our lower emissions fuels business by leveraging technology and infrastructure, and continuing research in advanced fuels that could provide improved longer-term solutions.”
Renewable fuels producer Neste is preparing to start SAF production in Singapore from the first quarter of 2023, expanding an existing renewable diesel plant to additionally produce up to 1 million tonnes of SAF per year. Sami Jauhiainen, the company’s VP Renewable Aviation for the Asia-Pacific region, said the collaboration through the Singapore programme “demonstrates the potential of SAF in reducing aviation’s emissions and helps accelerate its use in Singapore and globally.”
Under the SAF credit programme, 1,000 credits will be offered, one for every tonne of neat SAF to be delivered under the 12-month pilot. It is estimated that the initial SAF credits will reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft by 2,500 tonnes, equating to 2.5 tonnes per credit. The purchases are expected to help stimulate demand for the fuel and support the development of a SAF industry in Singapore.
The credits will be registered in a pilot project within the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB} Book & Claim System, designed to ensure that SAF credit transactions are conducted transparently and without double-counting of credit usage.
Initially, to help mitigate the carbon emissions created by their air travel, corporate customers and freight forwarders will be able to buy SAF credits directly from Singapore Airlines. Alternatively, freight forwarders will also be able to sell SAF credits to their cargo customers as a means of helping to recompense their own carbon emissions from business operations. Then, from the fourth quarter of this year, all Singapore Airlines customers will be able to buy a mix of SAF credits and carbon offsets as part of the SIA Group Voluntary Carbon Offset Programme.
The airline group will also collaborate with Climate Impact X, a global exchange for carbon credits, to offer a combined portfolio of SAF and carbon credits to help meet corporate demand for SAF.
“As we progress with the SAF pilot in Singapore, we can now offer more opportunities for our corporate customers and travellers to mitigate their carbon emissions using SAF credits, which are registered and accounted for within the RSB Book and Claim System,” said SIA’s Lee Wen Fen. “This will help to accelerate and scale up the collective adoption of SAF.”
CAAS DG Han Kok Juan said: “The creation of a trusted and vibrant marketplace for the sale and purchase of SAF credits in Singapore will help support the adoption of SAF, which is essential for the decarbonisation of the aviation sector.”
Frederick Teo, CEO of GenZero, the investment platform wholly-owned by Temasek, welcomed the start of SAF use by SIA and Scoot on flights departing Changi Airport. “We have also been working with our project partners and the Climate Impact X global exchange to pilot innovative products for SAF credits,” he said. “Such credits represent an important way to crowd in financing from environmentally-conscious corporates and institutions to reduce the cost premium and encourage greater adoption of SAF to decarbonise global aviation. We look to the SAF credits arising from this project being available by the end of the year.”
Mikkel Larsen, CEO of Climate Impact X, said: “The current lack of incentives for the adoption of green fuels has meant that prices continue to remain high and economically unviable. SAF credits can help to spur adoption by enabling competitive price discovery and channelling finance towards projects that can drive the use of sustainable fuels at the scale necessary to support decarbonisation in the aviation sector.”
Arianna Baldo, Programme Director, RSB, said: “Singapore Airlines’ participation highlights how this innovative approach can add value for companies who are serious about decarbonising the aviation sector.”
In neighbouring Malaysia, the national oil and gas company, Petronas Dagangan Berhad (PDB), and the nation’s largest air hub, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), have pledged to jointly increase the long-term supply of sustainable fuel for airlines, following successful demonstrations on two recent flights by Malaysia Airlines, one from Amsterdam, the other from KLIA to Singapore with SAF produced by Neste.
To align with its commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and ahead of the 2027 mandatory phase of the CORSIA international carbon offsetting scheme, Petronas is evaluating developments of both greenfield and brownfield biorefineries as well as co-processing at existing facilities.
“Exploring the supply of SAF at KLIA is a natural progression for us with aviation fuel being one of our key products,” said Petronas CEO Azrul Osman Rani. Having supplied SAF for two commercial flights by Malaysia Airlines, he said Petronas had shown it had the capabilities and infrastructure to supply SAF to the airport “from now onwards to support the aviation industry’s sustainability agenda.”
Philip See, Group Chief Sustainability Officer of Malaysia Airlines Group, said the carrier would increase its use of SAF for flights in Malaysia as part of its commitment to achieving socio-economic development and reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. “Moving forward,” he said, “we will look to make SAF the cleaner and more viable energy option for our regular flights by 2025.”
To support the increased adoption of SAF, in line with Malaysia’s national commitment to a lower carbon future, a dedicated taskforce has been established by the National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office and led by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Malaysia Airlines, Petronas and other government ministries are also participants.
Photo: Representatives from GenZero, Neste, Singapore Airlines, ExxonMobil and CAAS at the uplifting of blended SAF onto SIA flights at Changi