(photo: Port of Seattle)
Thu 10 May 2018 – A work plan involving the collaboration of 13 US and international airlines has been agreed to provide all airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) with access to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). They will work to meet a timetable approved by the Port of Seattle Commission last December that aims for a minimum 10% of sustainable jet fuel to be produced locally from sustainable sources within 10 years, increasing to 50% by 2050. With airlines at Sea-Tac projected to use around 700 million gallons of jet fuel per year, a 10% replacement would save 682,500 metric tons of GHG emissions, says the Port. A Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Port and the airlines formalises a commitment to develop a strategic plan to reach the first 2028 goal.
The plan will identify and make recommendations as to how to create and benefit from opportunities, address challenges, and support policies and financial incentives needed to meet the near-term goal, says the MoU. It will also analyse and recommend additional mechanisms that could contribute to carbon and air emission reductions and the environmental impacts from forecasted aviation growth at Sea-Tac, including technology, operations, infrastructure and future aircraft technology.
The MoU requires that by no later than 30 days after its signing, representatives of the airlines, Port staff and other partners to form a committee for the purposes of developing the plan, with a future MoU expected to implement it. The plan must include the steps and key milestones to meet the 2028 goal and other mechanisms to meet the Port’s near-term Century Agenda GHG reduction goals.
The committee is tasked with:
- Identifying the steps necessary to deliver on the 2028 goal;
- Evaluating market barriers and opportunities to produce SAF in the region, and identify strategies to overcome those barriers;
- Considering the wealth of material available from existing science and industry resources, and identify gaps in the research that would be helpful in reaching the goal; and
- Consulting as needed with experts to update the works completed in the Sustainable Aviation Fuels NW (SAFN) report published in 2011.
“Creating a market for SAF in Washington state will require groundbreaking partnerships in aviation, agriculture, finance and public policy,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire. “We appreciate the efforts of airlines at Sea-Tac who support this innovative effort to protect our environment and advance a clean energy economy.”
The 13 airlines taking part include Alaska, Delta, Horizon, Spirit, ANA, Emirates, Icelandair, Lufthansa, Atlas Air, Air Transport International, ABX and Singapore Airlines Cargo.
A draft strategic plan is expected to be presented for Commission approval, or identification of additional work needed, within 12 months of the committee’s formation. Apart from staff resources, no commitment of funding is required by the parties under the MoU.
“We will look back on this important collaboration between the airlines and the Port with pride knowing it was a major step towards the aeronautical industry’s sustainable path to success,” said Fred Felleman, who co-chaired the Commission’s Energy & Sustainability Committee and led the development of the goals.
Added Shane Jones, VP Airport Real Estate and Development for Alaska Airlines: “Even though Alaska already operates the most fuel-efficient fleet in the industry, we are always looking for ways to further reduce our carbon footprint, and this landmark MoU further demonstrates our commitment to the environment and the Seattle community.”
Since 2011, the airline has flown nearly 80 flights using SAF made of used cooking oil, forest residues and non-edible sustainable corn.
In 2016, the Port of Seattle partnered with Boeing and Alaska to investigate the best locations to store and blend SAF into the airport’s fuelling systems. This was followed in 2017 by an investigation by Carbon War Room/Rocky Mountain Institute into the feasibility of using different airport revenue streams at Sea-Tac to bring down the cost of SAF for airlines compared to petroleum jet fuel, as well as support the build-out of fuelling infrastructure.
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