Sep 25, 2023 - Economy

FAA offers millions for sustainable fuel rollout

Illustration of a gloved hand scrubbing an airplane contrail with a sponge

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Federal Aviation Administration has opened up a multimillion dollar grant program intended to accelerate the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) rollout.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is trying to reach net-zero aviation emissions by 2050 — but we're a long way off from zero-emissions aircraft, if they ever arrive.

  • That's left airlines and others pouring tons of money and resources into SAFs, which are made from used cooking oil, municipal waste, and other similar sources.

Details: The FAA is now accepting applications for $245 million in SAF infrastructure project grants, the agency announced Monday.

  • Such projects "will focus on producing, transporting and blending" SAFs, and "build up regional SAF supply chains and increase SAF use," the FAA said in a press release.
  • The money comes by way of the Inflation Reduction Act, which also included SAF production credits.

State of play: SAF production is steadily increasing, thanks in part to investment from airlines and others.

  • Yet production needs to be dramatically increased for SAFs to have a meaningful impact on overall aviation emissions, as Axios' Andrew Freedman has reported.

One big constraint: There's only so much raw material available that can be turned into SAFs in the first place — and plenty of competition for those limited resources.

  • There's also a need for SAF-specific infrastructure — the target of the FAA's new grant program.

Plus: The FAA is also offering up another $47 million in grants for other low-emissions aviation projects, such as efforts to boost aircraft fuel efficiency.

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