U.S Department of Energy: Summary report on Building Supply Chains to meet SAF Grand Challenge goals

In May 2023, The US Department of Energy (DOE) published a Summary Report on building supply chains to meet Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Grand Challenge goals. This summary follows a Request for Information (RFI) from the DOE in order to gain deeper understanding on the barriers and opportunities with regards to building supply chains for SAF. 

The SAF Grand Challenge was established in 2021 by DOE, the U.S Department ofTransportation and the U.S Department of Agriculture with the aim to supply sufficient SAF to meet all U.S aviation fuel demand by 2050 and achieve at least a 50% reduction in life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to conventional fuel. 

The Request for Information asked for input and feedback from stakeholders ranging from industry, academia, national laboratories, government agencies and other stakeholders to identify opportunities to develop effective supply chains, from feedstock production to final end use and all aspects in between. The recommendations and insights brought forward are crucial to understand the perspective and the needs from the industry and are helpful to accelerate a transition towards a more sustainable future for the aviation sector.


Key takeaways:

⁃       A consistent and supportive policy framework: There is a need for long-term, stable policy to serve as an indicator of regulatory certainty for the industry, provide incentives that can be discounted across the supply chain and create market demand for SAF

⁃       Strong stakeholder engagement and coalitions are crucial to foster a collaborative environment: Stakeholder coalitions provide a functional platform for collaboration and engagement among adiverse set of supply chain participants.

⁃       The importance of accelerating success of regional SAG supply chain coalitions: Strong public-private SAF collaborations help mitigate risks for all parties; aid in establishing a secure, stable, and competitive SAF supply chain; and help establish long-term competitiveness of SAF

⁃       Modelling and simulation tools enable the development of SAF supply chain: Robust models (such as Greenhousegases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies (GREET)) are needed for calculating lifetime greenhouse gas emissions reductions for SAF taxcredits would give supply chain developers, feedstock providers, investors, and SAF producers a predictable, durable framework for assessing tax program eligibility.

⁃       Critical gaps in the demonstrationof SAF supply chain elements must be addressed: Compound risks stem from challenges such as a lack of funding required to scale SAF supply, limited sustainable feedstock availability, ongoing social debates, low technology readiness, lack of dedicated SAF infrastructure, high capital costs, and absence of stable policy.

⁃       Scaling and commercial build-out of SAF supply chain elements: One of the greatest challenges to scaling and the commercial build-out of SAF supply chain elements remains the difficulty in raising capital.

⁃       The need to understand the government’s role in informing stakeholders: There is an opportunity to increase the knowledge level and confidence of all SAF supply chain participants, including feedstock producers, biorefineries, SAF users, and other stakeholders, by holding regional SAF workshops throughout the country, holding webinars, and using other forms of outreach and education. 

Read more about their findings by downloading the Summary report here.