13 June 2024

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Dubai’s SAF One and India’s GPS Renewables collaborate to produce SAF in India

Indian biofuels technology company GPS Renewables has partnered with SAF One, a new Dubai-based producer of sustainable aviation fuels, to develop SAF in India, the world’s third-largest aviation market, and one of the fastest-growing. Through their new collaboration, SAF One and ARYA, the Indian company’s project platform, will jointly develop a new SAF plant in India capable of producing 20-30 million litres of low-carbon fuel per year by converting lignocellulosic waste feedstock, or low-value agricultural by-products. Bengaluru-based GPS Renewables already uses non-basmati paddy straw to produce compressed biogas. The burning of waste paddy straw is a major contributor to air pollution in parts of India, and the government is encouraging its reuse as an industrial fuel. News of the new SAF plant coincides with enormous expansion by India’s two largest airline companies, IndiGo, which has firm orders for more than 1,000 new jets, and Air India Group, which has orders for 470.

India has committed to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2070, 20 years beyond the widely agreed global target of 2050. However, the government has flagged mandating SAF usage from 2027 as part of a broader campaign to begin transitioning the industry to lower emissions processes.

“As India moves towards mandating 1-5% blended usage of SAF starting in 2027, we need more collaborative efforts to address the challenges associated with the production of SAF,” said Mainak Chakraborty, CEO of and co-founder of GPS Renewables, which offers technology and end-to-end solutions for biofuel projects. “We are committed to eliminating these bottlenecks and facilitating India’s seamless transition towards clean energy. The collaboration with SAF One is a step in that direction. We look forward to a fruitful partnership to accelerate the production of sustainable aviation fuels and help India become a leader in SAF.”   

GPSR is already a significant player in biofuels and energy projects in India, including compressed biogas (CBG), renewable natural gas (RNG), 2G ethanol and green hydrogen, and has established more than 100 biogas plants, including Asia’s largest RNG plant, located in Indore, which uses municipal solid waste as a feedstock.

SAF One was established one year ago, in May 2023, as a partnership between aircraft lessor Novus Aviation Capital and Sencirc Holding, an investment business based in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, and focused on assets in the circular economy. It is part of the Abu Dhabi Global Market, a collective which includes sustainable capital raising and finance, and includes investments in renewable fuels and feedstocks from recycled waste – a core activity of SAF One’s new partner in India.

“The Indian aviation sector is poised for significant growth, and SAF One recognises the critical need for clean energy solutions,” said the company’s co-founder and director Deepak Munganahalli, commenting on the new partnership. “We are excited to be working with GPS Renewables to advance sustainable aviation fuel projects in India and accelerate its adoption of clean fuels.

“This collaboration adds to SAF One’s growing pipeline of projects globally and is a cornerstone of our strategy to support and transform the aviation sector. GPSR’s extensive experience in green energy projects in India and SAF One’s expertise in the development of sustainable aviation fuels while capitalising on its principals’ track record in aviation and circular economy makes for an ideal partnership.”

Late last year, SAF One signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Vietnamese low-cost airline Vietjet to collaborate on production, supply and use of technology-agnostic SAF in Vietnam, another fast-growing air transport market. Then in February this year, SAF One appointed global engineering group Kent to undertake a technology licensing review for the fuel company’s first synthetic paraffinic kerosene production plant.

India is one of the world’s fastest-growing air transport markets, looking to develop major international transit hubs to compete with those of neighbouring Middle East nations.

The country’s largest airline, low-cost carrier IndiGo, is ranked by aviation data group OAG as the industry’s eighth-busiest operator based flight frequencies. It operates more than 350 aircraft, mostly narrowbody Airbus A320-family jets, but has firm orders for more than 1,000 more for growth and fleet renewal, and recently announced firm orders for 30 wide-boded, long-haul Airbus A350s, and options for up to 70 more.

Its rival, the nation’s second-biggest airline company, Air India Group, is also on a steep growth trajectory, with firm orders for 470 new narrowbody and widebody jets, and options which take it to over 600 for its family of full service and low-cost airlines, including Air India, Air India Express and Vistara.

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