16 April 2024

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

IAG signs major 14-year deal with US producer Twelve for 785,000 tonnes of advanced e-SAF

European airline conglomerate International Airlines Group (IAG) has signed a 14-year purchase agreement with emerging US-based renewable fuel producer Twelve for the supply of 785,000 tonnes, representing 260 million gallons (984 million litres) of e-SAF, or sustainable aviation fuel produced by converting captured carbon dioxide into low-carbon liquid fuel. Deliveries could start as early as next year from Twelve’s new demonstration plant, which is under construction in the aerospace hub of Moses Lake in the northwest US state of Washington. The Twelve deal is IAG’s biggest single commitment to SAF to date, and the first e-SAF procurement by a European airline group. The fuel will be used to supply IAG’s five airlines – British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and LEVEL – as the group progresses plans to use multiple SAF types to reduce its flight carbon emissions.

“We have a roadmap to achieve net zero by 2050 including a target to fly with 10% sustainable aviation fuel by 2030,” said IAG CEO Luis Gallego. “The shortage of sustainable fuel globally continues to be a problem for our industry, although innovative companies like Twelve are an important part of the solution.

“This new deal will contribute towards our 2030 SAF target. We would like to see similar projects scale in Europe and we look forward to working with governments across our key markets to build a SAF industry to deliver jobs, economic growth and a stable supply of SAF.”

The new e-SAF deal extends a partnership formed in 2020 when California-based Twelve joined Hangar 51, a start-up accelerator established by IAG which, “dependent on appropriate government policy support”, aims to use 1 million tonnes of SAF per year by 2030 to help fuel its collective fleets, which currently total 582 aircraft.

The companies originally collaborated to commercialise Twelve’s Opus power-to-liquid fuel technology, which is designed to replicate the natural carbon-absorbing process of photosynthesis by combining CO2 with green hydrogen to create synthesis gas, or syngas, which is then to converted to liquid fuel.

Unlike physical feedstocks including waste fats, oils, greases, or solid waste that are used in other SAF production processes, CO2 is in abundant supply, extracted directly from industrial points of emission, biogenic waste or the atmosphere, while green hydrogen is made by using renewable electricity to divide water into hydrogen and oxygen.

IAG, which claims it consumed approximately 12% of global SAF supplies last year, said the new deal with Twelve would secure one-third of the SAF which the airline group needs to achieve its 2030 target, adding that its new fuel would comply with sustainability certification schemes such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC). By 2050, IAG expects SAF to comprise 70% of its total jet fuel content.

“This deal brings the scale-up of e-SAF, produced using power-to-liquid technology, one step closer to reaching its full potential in the aviation industry,” explained the companies.

Nicholas Flanders, co-founder and CEO of Twelve, welcomed the “historic” deal to provide e-SAF to IAG, claiming the fuel would have 90% lower lifecycle emissions than conventional jet fuel. “Our power-to-liquid E-Jet fuel offers industry-leading emissions reduction potential with the added benefits of an abundant feedstock supply and significantly smaller land and water footprints compared to alternative SAF pathways,” he said.

To sustainably serve its global network of more than 250 destinations in 91 countries, IAG has diversified its decarbonisation strategies through initiatives including continuous investment in new aircraft, fuel efficiency measures, and both purchasing SAF and investing in fuel and technology manufacturers. By 2050 the airline group expects to meet more than 90% of its emission reduction targets without relying on carbon offsets.

Between now and 2030, the five IAG airlines plan to induct 192 new aircraft, collectively valued at €13.5 billion ($14.5bn).

The group has SAF procurement commitments valued at $865 million with providers including UK-based Phillips 66, Neste in Finland and Singapore, US producers LanzaTech and Gevo, and through its membership of the oneworld global airline alliance, British Airways will this year start acquiring SAF from Aemetis at airports in California.

BA has also invested in LanzaJet, which recently began producing alcohol-to-jet SAF at its new Freedom Pines Fuels plant in Soperton, Georgia, and in hydrogen propulsion start-up ZeroAvia, which is progressing the conversions of turboprop aircraft to hydrogen-electric fuel cell powertrains. Additionally, the airline has partnered with Velocys in construction of a waste-to-fuel SAF plant at Immingham, in the UK.

As well, the UK Government’s Advanced Fuels Fund recently granted £9 million to IAG’s Project Speedbird, an ethanol-to-jet fuel collaboration in the UK between British Airways, LanzaJet and Nova Pangaea.

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