A new feasibility study reveals that Ireland has the potential to become a leader in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production. The study, supported by Avolon, Boeing, and ORIX Aviation, predicts that by 2050, the SAF industry in Ireland could generate €2.55 billion in revenue and create up to 1,000 high-skilled jobs.
- SAF Industry could provide up to 1,000 high-skilled jobs
- Policy changes needed to help accelerate the pathway for SAF production
- A feasibility study by SkyNRG and SFS Ireland, supported by Avolon, Boeing, ORIX Aviation
Ireland’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel Opportunity
The research emphasizes the crucial role of SAF. It is essential for the aviation industry to achieve its net zero emissions goal by 2050. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that SAF would contribute over 60% of the reduction in aviation emissions. The European Union’s ReFuelEU initiative mandates the blending of SAF into aviation fuel. To meet this requirement, Ireland will need approximately 10 SAF plants with a production capacity of 80 kilotonnes each. This would support domestic demand and open up export opportunities.
The study identifies the production of eSAF through Power-to-Liquid (PtL) technology as the most promising avenue for Ireland. Combining green hydrogen, produced through renewable energy-powered electrolysis, with biogenic CO2 enables the synthesis of eSAF. Notably, SAF derived from bio-based intermediates, like renewable natural gas, could fulfill the advanced biofuels portion of the ReFuelEU mandate rapidly.
However, developing a domestic SAF industry at scale in Ireland requires further progress. This is particularly true in securing sufficient renewable power for hydrogen production. The government’s initiatives to increase offshore wind power generation by 2030 will strengthen Ireland’s position.
In summary, Ireland has a significant opportunity to tap into the growing market for sustainable aviation fuel. With the right investments and technological advancements, Ireland can contribute to reducing aviation emissions. It can also reap economic benefits, and create valuable job opportunities.
Key Policy Initiatives to Advance Sustainable Aviation Fuel in Ireland
The research recommends the Government and stakeholders prioritize key policy initiatives including:
- Targets: Include sustainable aviation in climate action plans to strengthen Ireland’s renewable fuel aviation hub position.
- Incentives: Incentivising mechanisms are crucial for a viable PtL business case to stimulate the development of both SAF and hydrogen: capital allowances, tax credits, guaranteed minimum pricing, and investment incentives (e.g., via EII or SCI schemes).
- Research and Development: Funding and promotion of SAF technologies leveraging Ireland’s third-level institutions and Government entities such as Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, and SEAI.
- Reforming planning process: Implement a comprehensive and systematic approach in the planning process for SAF production plants, considering the potential for future energy parks and circular economy development in Ireland.
- Storage and transport: Invest in hydrogen storage and transport and solve the electricity congestion issues through more flexible use/development of the grid.
- Collaboration: Collaboration between the public and private sectors is critical to mobilizing the required investment. Cross-departmental Government relationships are also essential (DECC, DOT, DAFM) to ensure a comprehensive policy framework.
Irish Government’s Commitment to Reducting Aviation Emissions
Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, TD, said: “The Government is committed to supporting EU and international action to reduce aviation emissions. The European Green Deal has set ambitious targets for reducing net emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 when compared to 1990 levels and to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
“The agreement of the global long-term aspirational goal (LTAG) for international aviation at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which includes a collective global goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, further demonstrates the level of ambition of States and Industry alike. We welcome the proactive approach from the aviation sector to progress its own net zero commitments. This research presented today shows that there are clear future economic benefits from the green economy, which can create new jobs and exciting new business ventures. We look forward to engaging further with industry to explore Ireland’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) potential.”
Large-scale deployment of SAF is a key driver for Net-Zero
Andy Cronin, CEO of Avolon, said: “Our support for this partnership reflects our ambition to be at the forefront of sustainable innovation that will reshape the future of aviation. Large-scale deployment of SAF and the transition of the global fleet to new technology aircraft are the two biggest near-term drivers that can progress the sector’s net zero by 2050 goal. It is going to require large levels of investment and close collaboration across many stakeholders, and we value the Minister’s engagement to explore Ireland’s sustainable aviation fuel opportunity.”
Ireland’s offshore wind power is key to hydrogen production at scale
Sheila Remes, Vice President, Environmental Engagement and Business Development, Boeing, said: “Significant progress is required for Ireland to be able to develop eSAF at scale, particularly to ensure renewable power is available in the scale required production of hydrogen in the required quantities. The increased levels of offshore wind power generation that Government initiatives are targeting by 2030 will put the country in a much stronger position to develop a domestic SAF industry.”
Renewable Power Generation
Marie-Louise Kelly, CFO, ORIX Aviation, and Chair, Aircraft Leasing Ireland, said: “ORIX Aviation joined with its partners Avolon, Boeing, SkyNRG, and SFS Ireland on this ambitious project because we want to be part of the innovations and as crucially, the collaborations, that will define aviation’s journey to Net Zero 2050. Along with our sectoral experience, we were also able to add the wider ORIX Group’s extensive expertise in renewable power generation to this study. This report has identified multiple opportunities for Ireland on this journey. We welcome the Minister’s commitment to engage on SAF production and look forward to exploring ways to position Ireland at the heart of the global drive to Net Zero 2050.”
Building a Low-Carbon SAF Industry in Ireland
Darren Carty, Partner, SFS Ireland, commented: “We welcome the Minister’s support and take pride in collaborating with industry leaders like SkyNRG, Avolon, Boeing, and ORIX Aviation as an SME. This feasibility study is the foundation for establishing a low-carbon SAF industry in Ireland. We look forward to advancing collaboration and essential public-private partnerships. SFS Ireland is firmly dedicated to spearheading the production of SAF in Ireland and actively participating in the overarching mission to reduce carbon emissions within the aviation industry.”
Philippe Lacamp, CEO, SkyNRG, said: “Ireland has an opportunity to combine its renewable resources, skilled workforce, and the right policy environment to create a thriving Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) industry. SAF is essential for the aviation industry to achieve its net-zero target by 2050, and we need to build up SAF production capacity to cater to the rapidly rising demand. While there is still work to be done, we are convinced that Ireland can play a significant role in creating this SAF production capacity. We look forward to working with the Irish Government and other stakeholders to make SAF a reality for the important Irish aviation sector.”
The study evaluated Ireland’s potential to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) focusing on the pathways that are currently certified. The research team conducted an initial desktop analysis and engaged with over 50 stakeholders to gain insights into the market dynamics and sustainability of the available feedstocks. Data analysis determined the feasibility of SAF production in Ireland.
Avolon is a leading global aviation finance company connecting capital with customers. It aims to drive the transformation of aviation and the economic and social benefits of global travel. We pride ourselves on our deep customer relationships, our collaborative team approach, and our fast execution. We invest with a long-term perspective, diversifying risk and managing capital efficiently to maintain our strong balance sheet. Working with 147 airlines in 65 countries, Avolon has an owned, managed, and committed fleet of 897 aircraft as of 30 September 2023. www.avolon.aero
As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures, and services commercial airplanes, defense products, and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. As a top U.S. exporter, the company leverages the talents of a global supplier base to advance economic opportunity, sustainability, and community impact. Boeing’s diverse team innovates for the future and lives the company’s core values of safety, quality, and integrity. Learn more at www.boeing.com
About ORIX Aviation
Established in 1991 in Dublin, Ireland, ORIX Aviation is a 100% subsidiary of ORIX Corporation of Japan. The company owns and manages over 200 aircraft and leases them to more than 50 airline customers located in over 30 countries. ORIX Aviation is a 30% shareholder of Avolon, amongst the top three aircraft lessors globally. The company focuses primarily on investing and trading opportunities in aircraft leasing and asset management. It maintains a strong balance sheet of owned assets to support stable long-term profits and future growth. S&P Global Ratings rank ORIX Aviation a “Strong” overall ranking (the highest level available) with a stable outlook for ORIX Aviation as a commercial aircraft lease servicer. The asset management clients of ORIX Aviation are investors based in Japan, US funds, and international banks and financial investors. www.orixaviation.com
About SFS Ireland
SFS Ireland’s mission is to help bring sustainability to Ireland’s aviation industry. It aims to meet the urgent climate goals of the European Union and provide a pathway to net-zero emissions before 2050. Established in 2020 by two airline pilots, the company partners in this project with leading corporates in the aviation industry. It connects them to the Irish renewable energy and circular bio-economy sectors. With expertise in engineering, business management, and operations, the company facilitates the development of a path to decarbonize the aviation industry in Ireland. www.sustainableflightsolutions.com
SkyNRG is a global leader in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Since 2010, the company has been scaling up the industry’s SAF demand and production capacity to meet its 2050 net zero commitment. SkyNRG has supplied SAF to over 40 airlines worldwide. It is now developing dedicated production facilities to support the shift from fossil jet fuel to sustainable aviation fuel. As a certified B Corp™, SkyNRG prioritizes producing the most responsible and sustainable SAF worldwide. Recognized as a sustainability leader, it maintains an independent Sustainability Board. The Board advises the company on feedstocks and provides strategic guidance on wide-ranging sustainability issues. SkyNRG’s operations are certified by RSB and CORSIA. Learn more at www.skynrg.com