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Government urged to set achievable SAF targets and consider impacts on kerosene supply

UKPIA is calling on the UK Government to set an achievable target for the amount of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) used by UK airlines in 2025 or risk higher prices for passengers.

In response to the Government’s consultation on Developing the UK Sustainable Aviation Fuel Mandate, UKPIA says that setting a target for SAF above 0.5% as a proportion of jet fuel in 2025 would be unachievable, even according to the Department for Transport’s (DfT’s) own modelling of low carbon fuel feedstocks.

While the UK Government accepts that 0.5% is ‘highly ambitious,’ it is considering SAF targets that range from 0.5% to 4% in 2025.

Insufficient supply

Setting a target above 0.5% in 2025 risks forcing fuel suppliers to make ‘buy out’ payments to Government because they would not be able to supply enough SAF, according to UKPIA. This de facto penalty could be passed to the aviation industry and has the potential to increase prices for passengers.

In its consultation response UKPIA also raises concerns over the lack of consideration of the potential impact of the UK SAF mandate on the UK heating kerosene supply chain suggesting potential conflicts over use of infrastructure combined with insufficient margin could impact supply.

Other key points in UKPIA’s consultation response:

  • UKPIA disagrees with the UK Government’s plan to limit the amount of Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) – a renewable aviation fuel that can be produced from a wide range of vegetable oils and fats – in SAF. HEFA is the lowest cost form of SAF so limiting the amount that can be used in the UK is likely to increase costs for UK air passengers. No other countries’ SAF policies limit HEFA in the same way, potentially putting the UK at a disadvantage.
  • UKPIA advises that SAF targets must be based on sound science and should not rely on the emergence of as yet unknown technologies.

UKPIA CEO Elizabeth de Jong said: “The Government’s own calculations show that the maximum achievable Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) target in jet fuels is 0.5% by 2025. Setting a higher target would not reduce greenhouse gas emissions any further but could put up prices for the aviation sector and passengers.

“The Government needs to set the target at the right level so that the policy works effectively, and the UK aviation sector does not face potentially higher costs.”