DOT Joins Energy and Agriculture on Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge Roadmap

Sept. 23, 2022
Outlines steps to reduce aviation emissions and meet 100% of domestic aviation fuel demand by 2050.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs Annie Petsonk joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm to release the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Grand Challenge Roadmap. The comprehensive plan outlines the government-wide strategy for scaling sustainable aviation fuels production across the U.S.

The roadmap outlines actions that will spur technological innovation to produce SAF, reduce emissions, enable the United States to meet its domestic climate goals, and position the country as a global leader in the emerging SAF market.

“Transportation contributes more carbon emissions than any other sector, which means it must also be a central part of the solution to climate change, and that certainly includes aviation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “We look forward to working with our partners in the public and private sectors on the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, which will lead to cleaner skies, continued economic growth, and good-paying jobs.”

The SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap aligns government and industry actions to achieve the goals of the SAF Grand Challenge, which was signed in 2021 by the partnering agencies and consists of three major goals:

  • Achieve a minimum of a 50% reduction in life cycle GHG emissions compared to conventional fuel.
  • Produce three billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030
  • Supply sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand by 2050.

The roadmap is a collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Transportation and its Federal Aviation Administration.

U.S. commercial aviation currently consumes approximately 10 percent of all transportation energy and is a significant contributor of domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. SAF has the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel, but with a fraction of its carbon footprint – emerging SAF pathways even have a net-negative GHG footprint. SAF can be made from renewable biomass and other resources, including winter oilseed crops, agricultural and forestry residues, and municipal solid waste streams.

Enough biomass can be collected sustainably each year in the United States to produce 50–60 billion gallons of low-carbon fuels. Growing, sourcing, and producing SAF from renewable and waste resources can also create new economic opportunities in agricultural and rural communities, improve the environment, and even boost aircraft performance.

The SAF Grand Challenge objectives include expanding SAF supply and end use, reducing its cost, and enhancing its sustainability. The roadmap also helps position the United States as an exporter of SAF technology and fuels to support other countries in their efforts to decarbonize aviation. The full roadmap report and more information about the SAF Grand Challenge can be found on the Biomass Research and Development Board website.