The International Air Transport Association has released its latest figures for expected production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in 2024.

Around 1.875 billion litres of SAF are expected to be produced next year, triple the 600 million litres produced in 2023, which in turn was double the 300 million litres produced in 2022.

But IATA stressed that the 2024 figures equate to just 0.53 per cent of the aviation industry’s fuel needs, and warned that SAF output is expected to account for just 6 per cent of all renewable fuels produced next year, with 94 per cent going to other sectors.

IATA said that “demand is not the issue”, adding that “Every drop of SAF produced has been bought and used”.

“At least 43 airlines have already committed to use some 16.25 billion litres of SAF in 2030, with more agreements being announced regularly,” said the association.

“Unlocking supply to meet demand is the challenge that needs to be solved: Projections are for over 78 billion litres of renewable fuels to be produced in 2029. Governments must set a policy framework that incentivizes renewable fuel producers to allocate 25-30 per cent of their output to SAF to meet the CAAF/3 ambition, existing regional and national policies as well as airline commitments.”

British Airways recently announced it has secured £9 million in funding for its sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) partnership dubbed Project Speedbird.

The carrier is working with Teesside-based cleantech company Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT), and leading ethanol to SAF technology firm LanzaJet, with the project set to produce 102 million litres of SAF per year by 2028.

BA’s Project Speedbird SAF partnership secures £9 million government funding

IATA said that around 85 per cent of SAF facilities coming on line in the next five years will use technology relying on inedible animal fats, used cooking oil and industrial grease as feedstock.

The association warned that limited quantities of these will necessitate increasing production through other already certified pathways including Alcohol-to-Jet (AtJ) and Fischer-Tropsch (FT), and the fast-tracking of certification for new SAF production pathways.

“The doubling of SAF production in 2023 was encouraging as is the expected tripling of production expected in 2024,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

“But even with that impressive growth, SAF as a portion of all renewable fuel production will only grow from 3 per cent this year to 6 per cent in 2024. This allocation limits SAF supply and keeps prices high.

“Aviation needs between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of renewable fuel production capacity for SAF. At those levels aviation will be on the trajectory needed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Until such levels are reached, we will continue missing huge opportunities to advance aviation’s decarbonization. It is government policy that will make the difference. Governments must prioritize policies to incentivize the scaling-up of SAF production and to diversify feedstocks with those available locally.”

Last month Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to operate a transatlantic flight powered by 100 per cent SAF – a blend of 88 per cent hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) and 12 per cent synthetic aromatic kerosene (SAK), supplied by Air bp and Virent.

Virgin Atlantic operates 100 per cent SAF transatlantic flight