India can become a global leader in producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), thanks to its large agricultural production, Julien Manhes, head of SAF at the European aerospace company, told ET in an interview.
SAF is a biofuel that can be blended with conventional jet fuel without the need to develop new planes or engines. It can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80%.
“Nobody is expecting developing countries like India to follow the same trajectory as Europe or the US. India can set its own trajectory,” Manhes said.
In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (Corsia) to address carbon emissions from global aviation.
During the 41st assembly of the ICAO, member countries adopted a resolution to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, it did not find universal acceptance and several countries, particularly emerging aviation markets, felt that the scheme did not give them a fair deal and should be modified.India has set a target of achieving net zero emissions by 2070.Manhes said Corsia is guided by the common but differentiated responsibilities in the efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for the aviation sector and it can be achieved in many ways.
In early January, the central government set an indicative target of 1% blending of sustainable aviation fuel for all international flights. This percentage is expected to double to 2% by 2028 and become 5% by 2030, according to an order issued by the petroleum and natural gas ministry.
Manhes said India can be a global leader in SAF and that Airbus is ready to invest in the country to accelerate its production.
“India is a big consumer of edible oil. If even 10% of that is directed towards aviation it will fulfil the needs of not only India but one-third of Europe till 2030,” he said. “So, it is no surprise that India wants to leave the global queries on biofuels. India has all the assets to become a major player in biofuel. This can be an opportunity for the country’s economy.”
Some of India’s biggest petroleum companies are set to invest in SAF. Indian Oil Corp. is planning a joint venture with US-based clean energy technology company LanzaJet Inc and multiple domestic airlines for production of SAF. Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd is also working on setting up an SAF plant in Karnataka.
Airbus, Qantas Airways and the Queensland government had in March 2023 announced a collaboration to invest in a biofuel production facility, which is being developed by Jet Zero Australia and LanzaJet.
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