Air Asia flight (I5 767) powered by indigenously produced sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)-blended aviation turbine fuel (ATF) flew from Pune to Delhi on Friday. The SAF was produced by Praj Industries Ltd by using indigenous feedstock, supplied by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and used by Air Asia for a test use on its commercial flight.
Terming this as a significant development towards decarbonizing of the aviation sector, the Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri emphasised the need for India to become energy self-reliant by 2047, in line with the clear mandate being set by the Prime Minister.
“It goes without saying that the petroleum sector will have to contribute immensely to realize this vision,” said Puri while addressing a gathering comprising the captains from the industry and media fraternity in New Delhi while receiving the flight.
Describing the occasion as a significant milestone in the country’s efforts towards Net Zero emissions by 2070, Puri said, “I am glad to witness this historic occasion and receive the first commercial flight fuelled by SAF blended ATF. This would be the First domestic commercial passenger flight with SAF blending up to 1 percent as demonstration mode. By 2025, if we target to blend 1 percent SAF blending in Jet fuel, India would require around 14 crore litre of SAF per annum. More ambitiously, if we target for 5 percent SAF blend, India required around 70 crore litre of SAF per annum,” the minister informed.
Reiterating the vision of the Prime Minister for an Atmanirbhar Bharat by developing indigenous solutions to mitigate the environmental impact of aviation and pave the way for the widespread adoption of SAF in India, Puri highlighted the need of alternative and sustainable fuel sources. He said, “In the recent years SAF production technology has progressed significantly. Unlike traditional jet fuels, SAF is produced from renewable sources such as agricultural waste, municipal solid waste, and forestry residues. This means that SAF has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 percent compared to conventional jet fuel.”Production of SAF using sugarcane molasses as indigenous feedstock and technology in India is a major step towards self-reliance and de-carbonization of the aviation sector in line with the country’s commitment for achieving Net Zero by 2070. To achieve Nationally Determined Contributions — commitment to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030, from 2005 level) today — India is one of the strongest voices in the world for energy transition, and alternative energy, such as biofuels,” Puri added.
The civil aviation sector in India consumes around eight million tons of ATF and emitted around 20 million tons of GHGs in 2019 (pre-COVID). “India has feedstock for potential production of 19 to 24 million tons of SAF per year, whereas the estimated maximum requirement of SAF in India, considering 50 percent blend, is around 8 to 10 million tons per year by 2030,” Puri said.
Using indigenous biological feedstock (sugarcane molasses) will not only boost rural economy but also help farmers to get additional income. By 1 percent SAF blending, more than 5 lakh farmers get benefitted by supplying sugarcane as feedstock. Additionally, more than one lakh green jobs will be generated. This Atmanirbhar step can bring a remarkable change by turning India into an international SAF hub, he added.