10 things you need to know about sustainable aviation fuel

Using sustainable jet fuel benefits your business as well as the environment. But how do you know it’s truly sustainable? And how to get started? This Q&A will give you the answers you need.

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) can provide significant environmental benefits for airlines.

In its quest to decarbonise air travel, the aviation sector is constantly looking for innovative ways to lower carbon emissions.

With the aviation sector strongly committed to reducing its net CO2 emissions by 2050 to half their 2005 levels, and its carbon offsetting and reduction scheme’s monitoring phase now in full swing, all airlines now need to belooking into different solutions that can contribute towards these goals.

Sustainable aviation fuel already plays a significant role in many carriers’ sustainability strategies. So if you are considering this alternative, but need to know more, here’s our 10-point briefing to provide you with answers.

1. What is sustainable aviation fuel?

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuel.

The term highlights the sustainable nature of this fuel because it can be produced from alternative resources such as waste.

2. What is sustainable aviation fuel made of and where is it produced?

Neste MY Renewable Jet Fuel is produced from a mix of 100 percent renewable and sustainable waste and residue raw materials.

Neste, the world's largest producer of renewable fuels from waste and residues, produces its renewable products at the company’s refineries in Porvoo, Finland; Rotterdam; the Netherlands; and Singapore. At the moment, the company’s sustainable aviation fuel is produced in Porvoo and distributed at airports around the world – by 2023, the expansion in Singapore will raise Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel production over tenfold from current levels.

3. How do I know I’m using sustainably produced fuel?

Good question. It is always really important to ensure you know where your suppliers’ raw materials come from.

While some biofuels in the market are produced from feedstocks such as crops that involve the risk of deforestation, Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel is 100 percent produced from waste and residue raw materials. We do not use palm oil as a raw material for sustainable aviation fuel.

What’s more, only carefully selected suppliers are accepted to supply its raw materials. All of Neste's renewable product refineries are either certified by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification system or approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

4. Is sustainable jet fuel safe to use?

Is sustainable aviation fuel safe? Absolutely. And using it requires no modifications or additional investments. Neste’s renewable jet fuel complies with strict safety and quality requirements and is certified under ASTM D7566. It is also fully compatible with the existing jet engine technology and fuel distribution infrastructure when blended with fossil jet fuel (ASTM D1655).

5. Why is sustainable aviation fuel better for the environment?

Sustainable aviation fuel provides a cleaner alternative to fossil fuel, achieving up to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the fuel’s lifecycle, compared to conventional fossil jet fuel. This enables airlines to lower their impact on the environment. 

6. Are there any other benefits for the environment?

The fuel can reduce harmful particulate SOx and NOx emissions, burning clean without sulphur, oxygen and aromatics and with higher energy content.

Neste’s patented groundbreaking technology also allows the company to use various waste and residue raw materials to produce its renewable fuel, enhancing circular economy.

7. Why did Neste choose to produce sustainable aviation fuel?

Neste has been innovating for decades to find solutions that are better for the environment. Through this innovation and hard work, Neste has become the world's largest producer of renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel refined from waste and residues.

Neste is passionate about sustainability and works hard to reduce the company’s emissions, helping its customers to do the same. Once again in 2020, Neste ranked as the third most sustainable company globally – the third year running that we have made the top three – demonstrating the strong commitment towards a healthier planet.

8. Why should my airline use sustainable jet fuel?

Actually, there are quite a few good reasons. Using sustainable aviation fuel is an exceptionally good way to demonstrate your own business’s commitment to sustainability to stakeholders and customers alike. By proactively championing the use of sustainable aviation fuels, your airline can promote a greener future for aviation and the planet.

In addition to the aviation industry pledging to halve CO2 emissions by 2050 from 2005 levels, consumers are increasingly looking for more environmentally friendly options in their lives. So, giving your customers the choice to use sustainable aviation fuel – for example, through setting up a scheme where they can easily choose to buy it at the same time when purchasing their flights – can only be a good thing. 

9. Do many airlines use sustainable aviation fuel yet?

Yes! The number of airlines making the most of the environmental benefits that sustainable aviation fuel provides is constantly increasing, and carriers such as Lufthansa, JetBlue,  KLM and Finnair are leading the way.

10. Will there be enough sustainable aviation fuel for everyone?

Currently, Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel annual capacity is 100,000 tons; but with the Singapore refinery expansion on the way, and an additional investment into the Rotterdam refinery, Neste will have the capacity to produce some 1.5 million tons of SAF annually by the end of 2023.

In fact, Neste has invested 1.4 billion euros to expand its production facility in Singapore which is dedicated to exclusively produce the company’s renewable products. 




Satu Dahl, a journalist and Editor specializing in aviation. She has previously edited aviation magazine Regional International and written for several aviation publications.

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