September 17, 2021

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US airlines boost their 2030 target for sustainable aviation fuel by 50%

3 min read

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • US airlines boost their 2030 SAF target from 2 billion to 3 billion gallons.
  • Clean energy has a diversity problem, a new study confirms.
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Sustainable aviation fuel

Major US airlines yesterday pledged to voluntarily make 3 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel available to US aircraft operators in order to reduce aviation emissions by 20% by 2030.

Airlines for America (A4A), an industry trade group that includes United Airlines, Southwest, Delta, American, and others, announced a 2030 goal of producing and deploying 2 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel in March.

The group will work with the US government and other stakeholders to achieve today’s higher goal. The new target is a 50% boost.

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is made from feedstocks such as used cooking oil and animal fat and is, at present, rarely used.

At a White House roundtable on sustainable aviation yesterday, A4A CEO Nicholas E. Calio highlighted the need for:

[P]ositive government policy support – including a $1.50-$2.00 per gallon SAF blender’s tax credit; public-private SAF research, development and deployment programs, such as a new SAF and low emissions technology grant program under consideration by Congress; and other collaborative initiatives – to help enable the US aviation industry to reach its ambitious new 2030 SAF goal and its 2050 net-zero emissions goal.

The White House Fact Sheet on sustainable fuels in American aviation pointed out yesterday:

Aviation (including all non-military flights within and departing from the United States) represents 11% of United States transportation-related emissions. Without increased action, aviation’s share of emissions is likely to increase as more people and goods fly. That is why leadership and innovation in this sector is so essential if we hope to put the aviation industry, and the economy, on track to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Ultimately, the White House is calling for sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand by 2050, which is currently projected to be around 35 billion gallons per year.

Read more: Boeing says it will deliver 100% biofuel planes by 2030

Need for equity in clean energy

A new study, called “Help Wanted: Diversity in Clean Energy,” highlights the need for equity in clean energy:

Despite its broad range of businesses, including construction, utilities, manufacturing, professional services, and repair and maintenance, the clean energy sector is dominated by white men.

The study by BW Research Partnership was done in collaboration with E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), The Alliance to Save Energy, American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), Black Owners of Solar Services (BOSS), and Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA).

Here are the report’s key findings:

  • Black workers represent about 8% of the clean energy labor force, compared with about 13% of the nation’s total workforce.
  • Hispanic/Latino workers represent nearly 17% of the clean energy workforce, slightly less than the 18% they represent in the overall national workforce.
  • Racial and ethnic minorities account for nearly 4 in 10 US clean energy workers.
  • About 8% of clean energy workers are Asian, slightly higher than their presence in the national workforce, while Pacific Islanders and Alaska and other native Americans each make up about 1% of the clean energy workforce.
  • Women hold about 27% of clean energy jobs, compared with 48% of all jobs nationally.
  • Renewable energy employs the highest share of Hispanic or Latino workers in the US energy sector.
  • Black, Asian, Indigenous, and multiracial workers account for about 27% of clean energy jobs.

Nicole Sitaraman, policy committee chair of BOSS and vice president of strategic engagement at Sustainable Capital Advisors, said in a statement emailed to Electrek:

We are living in a climate crisis in which Black communities are suffering disproportionately.  Clean energy industries often overlook the innovation, expertise, and insight that Black communities possess. It is time to change that. We will not reach our climate mitigation and adaptation goals without the full participation and leadership of people of color in the clean energy sector. This report presents important data showing the urgency of diversifying this space to achieve an equitable climate resilient future.

Photo: “American Airlines MD-82 N455AA” by caribb is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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