Unveiling the Power of Sustainable Aviation Fuel Book and Claim
24 September 2023| By Just Aviation Team
In the dynamic aviation landscape, sustainability is a paramount goal aimed at reducing the industry’s environmental footprint. Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) has emerged as an advanced and eco-friendly alternative to traditional aviation fuels. However, efficiently and sustainably distributing SAF presents a unique challenge. To address this challenge, the aviation industry has introduced the innovative Book and Claim system.
What is The Book and Claim?
Book and claim is a chain of custody model that enables the transfer of SAF attributes, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, from the producer to the end-user, without requiring a physical link between them. The producer of SAF registers the amount and characteristics of the fuel in a dedicated registry, and issues certificates that represent the environmental benefits of the fuel. The buyer of SAF purchases these certificates from the producer or a third-party intermediary, and claims the emission reductions for their own flights, regardless of the actual fuel they use. The certificates are then retired from the registry to avoid double counting.
Book and claim is similar to the system used for renewable electricity, where consumers can buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) to support the generation of green power, even if they do not receive the actual electricity from renewable sources.
Why is Book and Claim Important?
Book and claim offers several advantages for scaling up the production and consumption of SAF, especially for business aviation operators who face challenges in accessing the physical fuel. Some of these advantages are:
- It reduces the logistical and operational complexity and costs of transporting and storing SAF from the production site to the airport, and of ensuring the quality and integrity of the fuel along the supply chain.
- It increases the flexibility and choice for SAF buyers, who can purchase SAF attributes from any producer, regardless of their location, feedstock, or technology, and claim them for any flight, regardless of the origin, destination, or availability of SAF at the airport.
- It creates a global market for SAF, where supply and demand can be matched more efficiently, and where price signals can incentivize the development of new production capacity and innovation in SAF technologies and feedstocks.
- It supports the achievement of emission reduction goals for business aviation, such as the ones set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), or by the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF Coalition), which aims to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.
What is The Book and Claim Chain of Custody System?
The book and claim chain of custody system consists of four main steps:
The SAF producer converts the feedstock into SAF, and blends it with fossil jet fuel according to the applicable standards and regulations. The SAF producer measures and verifies the amount and characteristics of the SAF, such as the GHG emission reductions, the feedstock origin, and the production technology, using a recognized certification scheme, such as the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) or the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB).
The SAF producer registers the SAF in a dedicated registry, and receives certificates that represent the SAF attributes. Each certificate corresponds to a certain volume of SAF, such as one liter, and contains information on the GHG emission reductions, the feedstock origin, the production technology, and the certification scheme. The certificates are valid for a certain period of time, such as one year, and can be traded or transferred among different actors in the registry.
The SAF buyer purchases the certificates from the SAF producer or a third-party intermediary, such as a broker or a platform, and pays a premium price that reflects the environmental value of the SAF. The SAF buyer claims the emission reductions for their own flights, regardless of the actual fuel they use, and reports them to the relevant authorities or organizations, such as ICAO or the SAF Coalition. The SAF buyer can also communicate their SAF purchase to their customers and stakeholders, and demonstrate their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint and supporting the SAF industry.
The SAF buyer retires the certificates from the registry, to avoid double counting or fraud. The retirement of the certificates is verified by the registry operator and the certification scheme, and is recorded in a public database, such as the ICAO CORSIA Eligible Emissions Unit Database or the RSB Certificate Database.
Quantifying the Benefits of Book and Claim for SAF
Given that SAF fuel is currently produced in limited volumes and a select few global locations, optimizing the sustainability of its supply chain is paramount. By integrating SAF fuel aviation into the fuel system at airports near production facilities, the supply chain’s greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.
A comprehensive optimization analysis demonstrates that introducing SAF at airports within 100 kilometers of production facilities reduces supply chain emissions by an average of 30% compared to long-distance transportation methods. SAF production near airports can reduce supply chain emissions by upping traditional aviation fuels. However, the Book and Claim sustainable aviation fuel proves its worth by:
- Cost Savings: Avoiding the establishment of a separate supply chain for SAF saves significant infrastructure costs. Building a separate SAF supply chain would require a multi-billion-dollar investment. However, implementing the Book and Claim system results in cost savings of up to $2 per liter of SAF, making it economically viable.
- Affordability: By avoiding extensive logistical expenses, SAF prices remain competitive, fostering its adoption in the aviation sector.
- Airline and Location Independence: Corporate buyers can source SAIF claims based on their total aviation footprint in a single transaction. This eliminates the need to negotiate separate agreements with individual airlines or locations.
- Customized Reduction: Buyers have the liberty to procure any volume of SAF, whether it’s for covering 100% of their fuel needs or achieving a carbon-neutral scenario. Unlike other methods, the Book and Claim system has no technical limitations, such as blending restrictions.
SAF’s Role in Emissions Reduction
As the aviation industry charts a course towards sustainability, SAF claims it is expected to play a pivotal role in reducing emissions. Numerical projections underscore its significance:
- Emissions Reduction Potential: Experts estimate that SAF could contribute to as much as 65% of the emissions reductions required by the aviation industry by 2050.
- Production Growth: To meet this ambitious target, SAF production must undergo substantial growth. Currently, SAF claims accounts for a mere 1% of global jet fuel production, but this figure is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades.
- Cost Competitiveness: The greatest surge in SAF adoption is anticipated in the 2030s, when it is expected to become economically competitive with traditional kerosene.
How Does Book and Claim Differ from Mass Balance?
Mass balance is another chain of custody model that allows the physical commingling of SAF with conventional jet fuel across the supply chain, but requires a proportional allocation of the SAF attributes to the end-user. For example, if a producer blends 10% of SAF with 90% of fossil jet fuel, and sells the mixture to an airport, the airport can only claim 10% of SAF for the fuel it delivers to the aircraft.
Mass balance has some benefits, such as ensuring the physical delivery of SAF to the airport and the aircraft, and providing a quality assurance for the fuel. However, it also has some limitations, such as:
- It requires a robust tracking and verification system to avoid double counting or fraud along the supply chain, which can increase the administrative and operational costs and complexity for the SAF producers and buyers.
- It limits the availability and choice of SAF for the end-user, who can only claim the SAF that is physically delivered to the airport where they operate, and who may face regional or seasonal variations in the supply and price of SAF.
- It does not fully reflect the environmental performance of SAF, as the GHG emission reductions depend on the feedstock and technology used to produce SAF, not on the blending ratio with fossil jet fuel.
Book and claim, on the other hand, does not require a physical link between the SAF producer and the end-user, and allows the full claim of the SAF attributes, regardless of the blending ratio or the location of the fuel. This gives more flexibility and transparency to the SAF buyers, who can choose the SAF producer that best suits their environmental and economic preferences, and claim the emission reductions for any flight they operate.
Examples of Book and Claim Initiatives in the Business Aviation Industry
Several business aviation operators and stakeholders have adopted or supported the book and claim system for SAF, and have demonstrated its feasibility and benefits. Some examples are:
- In 2020, a prominent oil and gas company, also providing aviation fuel services, introduced a book and claim registry. This initiative aimed to facilitate access to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for business and general aviation customers, enabling them to reduce emissions even when traditional fuel options were unavailable at their airports. The company’s SAF, derived from used cooking oil and animal waste fat, holds certification from ISCC. Integrated with a flight planning and fuel management platform, the company’s book and claim registry empowers customers to purchase SAF certificates online. They can then receive a digital confirmation and a comprehensive sustainability report. Notably, the company has successfully supplied SAF certificates to various business aviation customers, including a large fractional ownership operator, a global business aviation service provider, and an on-demand charter platform.
- In 2019, a SAF supplier and pioneer launched a book and claim program to empower corporate and business aviation customers in reducing emissions. This program allows customers to purchase SAF from the supplier’s global supply network, with SAF produced from diverse feedstocks like used cooking oil, forestry residues, or municipal solid waste, and certified by RSB. Customers have the flexibility to choose the SAF volume, feedstock, and production location, receiving a certificate and a sustainability report. The supplier has effectively supplied SAF certificates to various business aviation customers, including a leading business aviation company, a corporate biofuel program, and a multinational technology corporation.
- In 2020, a leading SAF producer and supplier initiated a book and claim program to facilitate access to SAF for business aviation customers, even in the absence of physical fuel at their airports. The producer’s SAF, certified by ISCC and produced from used cooking oil and animal waste fat, is made accessible through the book and claim program. Customers can purchase SAF certificates through the producer’s partners, such as aviation fuel distributors or airport operators, receiving a certificate and a sustainability report. The producer has successfully supplied SAF certificates to numerous business aviation customers, including a major aircraft manufacturer, a business jet operator, and a private jet management company.
At Just Aviation, our commitment to sustainability fuels our mission. As we conclude this exploration into the realm of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and the transformative Book and Claim system, we stand at the forefront of aviation innovation. Our journey towards greener skies continues, driven by technology, eco-consciousness, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.