As the global aviation industry prepares for carbon emissions limits, expected to be finalized by a UN body later this month, JetBlue has announced a 10-year purchase agreement to buy more than 330 million gallons of renewable jet fuel.
JetBlue says this is one of the largest renewable jet fuel purchase agreements in aviation history, and the largest, long-term commitment by any airline globally for HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) based renewable jet fuel.
Biojet fuels will be key to achieving the aviation industry’s pledge to cut CO2 emissions to 0.2 billion tons (GT) in 2050 — half the 2005 figure — as opposed to the 2.1 GT projected by current growth rates, according to a Lux Research report published earlier this summer.
Under the agreement with bioenergy company SG Preston, JetBlue will purchase more than 33 million gallons of blended jet fuel per year for at least 10 years. The fuel will consist of 30 percent renewable jet fuel blended with 70 percent traditional Jet-A fuel.
The renewable jet fuel portion produced from plant oils is targeted to achieve a 50 percent or higher reduction in greenhouse gases emissions per gallon based on a life-cycle analysis.
JetBlue says the renewable jet fuel will benefit the airline’s bottom line while also lowering its net CO2 emissions.
The companies expect the fuel to meet the EPA’s qualification for renewable fuel standards, as well as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials certification standard for sustainable production of biofuels.
Renewable jet fuel is chemically equivalent to conventional Jet-A fuel, and poses no difference in performance or safety. It has been approved for use by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
JetBlue business partners have tested this type of renewable jet and qualified it for use in 2011 via industry evaluations that took place as part of the alternative fuels approval process of ASTM International, the standard-setting body for fuels used by the aviation enterprise. To date, more than 2,200 commercial, revenue flights by 22 airlines have flown on different types of renewable jet fuel, with many of those flights being flown with the HEFA-SPK type fuel to be produced by SG Preston.
Earlier this year JetBlue began actively looking to purchase renewable jet fuel for commercial use. In 2015, JetBlue was the only airline to sign the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge. JetBlue pledged to reduce global emissions from commercial air travel in partnership with aircraft and engine manufacturers, the FAA, and others.
JetBlue’s renewable jet fuel agreement comes as the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization prepares to meet in Montreal beginning Sept. 27 to formally adopt a global deal to limit aviation GHGs.
The proposed international standards will be voluntary between 2021 and 2026 and then mandatory from 2027 for the world’s largest emitters. The White House says they are expected to reduce carbon emissions more than 650 million tons between 2020 and 2040.
The aviation industry doesn’t have its own carbon reduction targets under last year’s Paris climate deal.