Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) will “never achieve the price of jet fuel”, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told Financial Times.
Contemplating on the aviation industry’s main solutions for reaching net-zero by 2050, Calhoun said that while SAF is indeed a more positive fuel, its cost will never be able to come near the one of current petroleum-based jet fuels.
“We will create scale and get more economic, but I don’t think we will ever achieve the price of Jet A. I don’t think that will ever happen. It is more positive and it will have an impact, but it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be”, he explained.
There are no cheap ways to do SAF — if there were, we would already be doing them.Robert Campbell, head of energy transition research at Energy Aspects
“He’s saying the quiet bit aloud”, Robert Campbell, head of energy transition research at Energy Aspects, commented on Calhoun’s remarks, agreeing that SAF production methods are very expensive compared to current jet fuel.
Moreover, these higher prices will be passed down to passengers, as “airlines are not in a financial position to absorb that cost”, argued IATA Director General Willie Walsh during the Sustainable Aerospace Together Forum, organised by Financial Times and Boeing.
However, a mid-term solution exists that could drastically reduce the price of SAF until better more efficient production methods are eventually developed, Luis Cabra, President of FuelsEUrope argued. Discussing the EU’s plan to ban combustion engine cars by 2035, he proposed that instead of being banned, they can use renewable liquid fuels instead, which are obtained in SAF production processes anyways and are not currently being used.
If Europe wants more SAF, leave combustion engine cars with renewable liquid fuels continue running in the EU roads after 2035.Luis Cabra, President of FuelsEUrope
“Liquid fuels are hydrocarbon molecules of different sizes: smaller molecules are used for gasoline, mid-size ones for aviation fuel, and bigger ones for diesel. They are obtained today from petroleum oil, and tomorrow from organic waste for advanced biofuels or a combination of renewable hydrogen and captured CO2 for synthetic fuels. Most chemical processes that transform raw materials into liquid fuels are not as selective as to yield just one size of molecules, you get all sizes, thus obtaining gasoline, aviation fuel and diesel. All are valuable products, provided carbon neutral gasoline and diesel can be used in cars and trucks”, he explained.