Setting the record straight on Sustainable Aviation Fuel and animal fats feedstock

Animal by-products are already highly regulated for all uses. Under the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED), fuel companies are required to blend biofuels into road transport fuels currently around 7-10% but this requirement will increase to around 20% by 2030. Currently some of this can, as an alternative, be supplied to airlines as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

All SAF and biofuels for road transport in the EU have to comply with strict sustainability standards set out in the EU RED and all sources of supply have to be certificated and audited. National governments require detailed reporting of every batch of renewable fuel used in Europe for compliance with these regulations.

John Cooper, FuelsEurope’s Director General, mentioned “the latest regulation driving increases in SAF use in Europe, “ReFuel Aviation” will set an upper limit, a cap of fuels from animal fats, at a level of 3% by volume in any batch of fuel. This limit was introduced precisely because of concerns of excess demand for these feedstocks, so T&E’s concerns have already been addressed in European law.”

Implying that very large amounts of green jet fuel could be produced entirely from one specific feedstock such as pig fat is simply not justified.

The sustainable fuels market

The focus exclusively on pig fat is highly misleading and unrepresentative as regulations and the available production preclude this. Biofuel production is the result of the use of a variety of different feedstocks.

Agriculture residues, forestry residues, used industrial and cooking oils, vegetable oils, and waste such as municipal organic waste, or animal fats will all together contribute to the production of biofuels for transport. The animal fats used are by-products of the meat industry and typically the lower qualities will go to fuel use.

As the regulated required volume of SAF increases in future years, production will be based on more use of forestry and agricultural wastes and residues.

Another poor attempt to bring palm oil back in the narrative

The use of palm oil in biofuel production is very clearly regulated, with a ban agreed for 2030 in the EU. Already today, many fuel producers have moved away from palm oil, and the remaining share is made of certified sustainable palm oil in line with EU legislation.

We don’t know why T&E activists have chosen to speculate on insufficient supply of advanced biofuels and synthetic fuels, but they have then made a jump in the story to put palm oil back in the picture even though this is already heavily regulated and in decline.

There are advanced biofuels targets and sub-targets from the RED, Fuel Maritime and ReFuel Aviation, these are achievable, and deliver a signal to industry to scale up their production.

Fuel manufacturers are investing in all potential technologies for the production of renewable fuels, with road transport as the lead market, bio and synthetic fuel production will steadily grow to meet market demand.