The sky’s the limit for sustainable aviation fuels, says Canadian government as it launches competition
Thu 23 Aug 2018 – Reducing aviation’s environmental footprint is critical in the transition to a lower-carbon economy and cleaner fuels are central to those efforts, believes Natural Resources Canada, which has launched an initiative to stimulate the development of sustainable aviation fuels. The government says it is challenging Canadians to develop clean, affordable fuel for the aviation sector to further reduce its carbon footprint and fight climate change. The ‘Sky’s the Limit Challenge’ consists of two competitions with significant prize money to develop innovative SAF development solutions and also produce enough made-in-Canada biojet to fuel a cross-Canadian commercial flight. Partners in the initiative include Air Canada, WestJet and GARDN.
“This unique challenge facilitates collaborations to support a game-changing transformation of the aviation industry,” said Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “A Canadian-made sustainable aviation fuel will grow our clean economy and create good, middles-class jobs for Canadian workers.”
The ‘Green Aviation Fuels Innovation Competition’ will provide C$2 million ($1.5m) apiece for four teams that develop the most innovative solutions, followed by an 18-month competition to produce the most economical and environmentally sustainable aviation fuel that will net the winner C$5 million in prize money. Under the second ‘Cross-Canada Flight Competition’, the first participant to fuel a Canadian commercial flight using a minimum 10% blend of made-in-Canada biojet fuel will win C$1 million. The prize winners will be announced by the end of March 2021.
The organisers of the challenge say they have engaged a wide range of partners to support a Canadian biojet supply chain, including researchers, feedstock supplies, fuel producers and consumers. Air Canada and WestJet will serve as carriers for the Cross-Canada Flight Competition.
Welcoming the government initiative, Air Canada’s Director, Environmental Affairs, Teresa Ehman said: “To date, we have operated eight biofuel flights, including our most recent one from Edmonton to San Francisco earlier this spring, demonstrating the potential to reduce our carbon footprint as we continue to foster and advocate for the development of sustainable aviation biofuels in Canada.”
Added Mike McNaney, VP Industry, Corporate and Airport Affairs, WestJet: “With our long history of innovation, as well as our ongoing participation in a number of clean-fuel initiatives, we look forward to engaging with members of the biojet value chain to meet this challenge.”
Sylvain Cofsky, Executive Director of the Montreal-based Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN), said the initiative could help launch a new industry. “We truly believe that the environmental challenges faced by the air transport sector can only be surmounted by a shared vision amongst industry, government, academia and society, where collaborative work is key to accelerate the production and integration of sustainable fuels in the aviation sector’s regular operations.”
The Canadian government says it is exploring opportunities to purchase biojet fuel for future use in federal aviation fleets “once it is commercially available at a competitive price”.
Said Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau: “Reducing emissions from the aviation sector is a priority for the Government of Canada. To achieve our goal, we must collectively find creative solutions to develop cleaner fuels. The ‘Sky’s the Limit Challenge’ is an innovative idea to leverage Canada’s know-how in fighting climate change.”
The ‘Sky’s the Limit’ is the second of five planned challenges under Natural Resources Canada’s C$75 million ($57m) Impact Canada Initiative that aims to drive innovation and accelerate the clean growth economy.