Earlier this summer, American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) and Shell Aviation made an announcement calling on the private sector to help decarbonize air travel by joining their Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) program. Participants will have access to one million gallons of SAF at launch and can take advantage of the program’s new blockchain-powered book-and-claim solution.
Industrial power plant
The blockchain solution, Avelia, was developed by energy company Shell and professional services outfit Accenture, with support from the Energy Web Foundation (EWF). Nicole Sautter, Global Sustainability Manager, Amex GBT, recently emphasized to Simple Flying that Avelia provides customers with traceable and verifiable reporting of emissions saved by purchasing SAF on the platform.
Overall, customers are expected to benefit from SAF’s environmental properties to reflect the carbon reduction benefits of the investment made. In particular, SAF can reduce lifecycle emissions by up to 80% compared to standard jet fuel and is a drop-in fuel that can be mixed and used in today’s aircraft without requiring technical modifications.
With net-zero targets high on the agenda across the aviation spectrum, the SAF is increasingly becoming an integral resource. Photo: Shell
The core benefits
Sautter explains that the collaboration helps carriers leverage SAF by combining the purchasing power of airlines and Amex GBT’s corporate travel customers at scale by aggregating their demand to decarbonize.
Therefore, airlines identified for co-investment opportunities will benefit from access to SAF at cheaper rates because the costs are shared across the aviation value chain. . Book-and-claim enables travelers to invest in and benefit from SAF, even if SAF is not available at the departure airport. SAF will instead be fed into another aircraft at an airport where it is available.”
There is a lot of potential to be gained with blockchain in the aviation industry. We have already seen the likes of SITA showcase it as a tool to restart the journey safely, and this is something that Sautter also recognises.
“We are interested in supporting scalable co-investment models, which allow companies to co-finance the costs of SAF. This is crucial for our industry to significantly scale SAF supply and use. Therefore, an industry-accepted carbon accounting mechanism, such as book-and-claim, is key for such programs to grow credibly. Avelia’s data security and credibility are key components to achieving scientific and market consensus for ways to assign SAF environmental attributes and help us accelerate the decarbonisation of aviation. “The platform’s blockchain technology means customers can truly be confident in the security, transparency and accountability of their emissions reduction data. This we hope will encourage greater support and engagement from companies in pilot programs like ours with Shell Aviation.”
A new generation
All in all, the program seeks to create a transparent and credible way to reduce emissions from travel to help meet the company’s sustainability goals. Amex is also pleased that voluntary organizations such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the Smart Freight Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation & Logistics SAF Guidelines are observing and engaging with the initiative.
Sautter concludes that an important aspect of the Avelia platform is that it offers a solution that is both inclusive and neutral with respect to airlines, technology production pathways, fuels and raw materials.
Blockchain is a growing list of records (blocks) linked together using cryptography – each block includes a cryptographic hash of the previous block, as well as a time stamp and transaction data. Photo: Shell
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While alternative solutions such as electric and hydrogen have been earmarked as long-term successors to traditional fuels, SAF is expected to be the first response before working together with the other processes. Airlines, manufacturers and airports worldwide have introduced landmark SAF initiatives. Just this week, Alaska Airlines finalized a deal for 185 million gallons of SAF. This move followed Lufthansa’s order of up to 1.8 million SAF from Shell. Impressively, the Lufthansa Group is already the largest SAF customer in Europe.
With many investments at stake in this growing fuel industry, blockchain will be a valuable asset in this next chapter. The technology’s distinct ability to effectively share information instantly and securely between relevant stakeholders, be they airlines, passengers or OEMs, offers limitless opportunities for years to come.
What are your thoughts on Amex GBT’s sustainable jet fuel pilot program? What do you think of the overall outlook for the initiative? Tell us what you think in the comments section.