What is a book-and-claim platform for SAF and how does it work?
Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) will play a critical role in reducing flight emissions. Experts estimate that SAF could contribute to 65% of the emissions reductions needed by the aviation industry by 20501.
This will require a massive increase in SAF production, as today SAF accounts for only about 1% of the jet fuel produced worldwide. The demand is growing, as more and more travelers want to manage their carbon emissions, and corporate businesses strive to meet their emissions reduction targets. The greatest acceleration in the SAF market is expected in the 2030s, when SAF is likely to become competitive with fossil kerosene in terms of price.
As the production of sustainable aviation fuel is still today limited, buyers and end users globally cannot always access it through the existing supply chain network. SAF is currently produced and supplied in a few countries and airports, which makes it sometimes out of reach for airlines and their corporate customers looking to reduce their emissions from business travel.
This means that some airlines that want to offer sustainable aviation fuel to their passengers are unable to get SAF onto their aircraft without costly and emissions-generating logistics. One solution to such situations is to offer the SAF through a “book-and-claim” or a “buy-and-claim” solution.
Book-and-claim model explained
The book-and-claim model (also called buy-and-claim) decouples a sustainability claim that results from the use of a resource from where that resource was physical consumed, and can increase the demand for lower-emission alternatives.
A similar model has been in extensive use in the green electricity market for decades: If you decide to buy electricity generated from wind power to your household in Helsinki, Finland, no one is going to install cables from the nearest wind turbine to your building. Rather, the wind turbines feed the electricity they generate to a shared grid. When you buy the wind power from your electricity supplier, your electricity supplier will in effect buy:
- Wind Electricity Certificates from a wind electricity producer*
- Electricity from the wholesale market, i.e. the grid
The certificates are used to account for your use of electricity, and your electricity supplier is required to purchase enough certificates to cover for all of their sales of wind electricity.
The result: you can claim the lowered emissions related to your electricity consumption, but the electricity supplied to your household is still from the shared grid.
In many electricity markets, this mechanism has also led to lowered overall emissions: even people who have happened to be located far away from wind turbines have still been able buy electricity generated by the turbines, increasing the demand. The supply has followed, which has led to lowered overall emissions per one unit of electricity consumed.
Book-and-claim on SAF market
When applied to SAF, the book-and-claim model allows carriers to buy SAF certificates – and offer those certificates to their passengers – without being geographically tied to the supply, which still today is limited.
Imagine Jane, the CEO of a company called Acme, embarks on a business trip from Madrid to Singapore and wants to reduce the climate footprint of the trip, but SAF is not available at any of these airports. Nevertheless, Jane is able to buy 100 kg of SAF from the airline’s web store to cover her seat’s share of the fuel required for the flight, thanks to a book-and-claim mechanism. The transaction Jane makes is recorded with a unique identifier.
At the same time, a SAF producer produces one metric ton of SAF. Each batch of SAF is recorded with a unique identifier. As Jane makes her purchase, the SAF producer receives the information: book 100 kg to cover Jane’s transaction. The SAF producer reserves the 100 kg from the batch at hand for Jane’s transaction, and sells the fuel to a physical fuel distribution network.
Jane has purchased SAF – although the fuel is not physically transported and entered into the aircraft she will board. Instead, the SAF is piped into the fuel system (usually at the airport near the SAF production facility) and into an aircraft that can fly with SAF. Thanks to a book-and-claim system like Oncarbon, Jane is able to claim the lowered flight emissions in Acme’s Scope 3 emission accounting.
This way, the consumer (Jane) has been decoupled from the actual physical product (SAF) while still being able to claim the emissions reduction achieved by her purchase.
Making SAF more available
It is important here to ensure full traceability so that there is no risk of double counting the same emissions reduction. This can be achieved through a trusted third party that guarantees the credibility of the process – even though there is currently no global certification system for SAF.
Nonetheless, the book-and-claim (or buy-and-claim) system in the SAF industry appears to be a key to creating greater demand and expanding SAF production to make it widely available. SAF has been in use since about 2008 – and since then, more than 300,00 flights have been partially fueled with SAF without requiring any engine or aircraft modification. And the projected numbers are promising: between 2019 and 2020, the amount of SAF used by commercial aircraft increased by 65%, and by another 70% between 2020 and 20212.
“Production has steadily increased in recent years, even though SAF is two to four times more expensive than kerosene,” said Robert Boyd, IATA deputy director of aviation environment and head of SAF. “We still have a long way to go, but momentum is moving in the right direction to reach critical production mass, and when that happens, it will be a defining moment for airlines.”
Bio-fuels and synthetic e-fuels
IATA estimates that SAF production could reach 2% of total fuel demand by 2025, and that the price gap between SAF and conventional kerosene would gradually close. And the benefits are enormous: SAF produces up to 80 % fewer carbon emissions over its life cycle than the conventional jet fuel it replaces.
We would like to point out here that today we are mainly talking about bio-based SAF, i.e. fuel produced from renewable bio feedstocks (corn, rapeseed, or palm oil) or waste from other production processes (used cooking oils, food waste or other bio-based solid waste). Most of them are a “drop-in” solution, meaning airlines can blend them with conventional fuel and use in existing aircraft.
There is also another type of SAF called synthetic fuels (or e-fuels), such as solar kerosene, which is “made from” sunlight. This is where we see the future of aviation – but right now the manufacturing levels of e-fuels are still marginal.
A 2021 paper published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Dayton, Yale University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory claims that SAF can even have a negative carbon footprint. According to the research, net carbon emissions can be reduced by 165% compared to fossil jet fuels by targeting the huge greenhouse gas footprint of food waste3.
Offer SAF certificates to your customers
Even if today’s SAF production volumes are not gigantic, more and more travelers, especially business travelers , are looking for ways to reduce their emissions. We are in the megatrend of sustainability, and offering SAF certificates to your customers is a response to growing market demand.
Now you too can offer SAF certificates – along with high-value carbon offset credits – to your customers. To learn more about the options available, check out our demo.
Original cover picture: Inspirationfeed/Unsplash.