Ricardo Supporting EASA to Establish EU SAF Clearing House
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This news is classified in: Aviation Sustainable Aviation

Jul 9, 2024

Ricardo Supporting EASA to Establish EU SAF Clearing House

Ricardo, a global strategic environmental and engineering consulting company, has been chosen by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to lead a consortium creating Europe’s first ever Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Clearing House.

Working alongside fellow consortium members - Trinity College Dublin, Intertek, Politecnico di Torino, ENVISA, and Spark Legal and Policy Consulting – Ricardo experts will establish a network of European and international testing facilities and guide fuel producers in assessing the environmental impacts of their products and in meeting strict eligibility criteria. The EU SAF Clearing House has already received its first sustainable aviation fuel and is currently testing it.

Maria Rueda, EASA’s Strategy & Safety Management Director said: “The demand  for SAF will grow ever more to meet the goals set in the ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation and increasingly reduce the emissions from aviation. Via the EU SAF Clearing House, EASA wants to ensure that the fuel industry gets the support needed to succeed in developing SAF for aviation, so that their innovation efforts are not in vain and more SAF is brought to the market.”

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Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) are a non-conventional drop-in alternative to conventional petroleum-derived hydrocarbons. They replace conventional fossil-based aviation fuel on a 1:1 basis but have a smaller carbon footprint. Used as a ‘drop-in’ fuel (a like-for-like replacement material) they are viewed as the most viable route in the short-to-medium-term to reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions and meet regulatory targets.  

The ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation, adopted in 2023, mandates a target of a 2% SAF production in European aviation by 2025, rising to 6% by 2030, and a further increase of up to 70% by 2050. However, SAF currently represent less than 0.05% of total EU aviation fuel use. Furthermore, the supply chain has found scaling volumes to the required commercial levels to be a significant challenge, with new products required to meet strict specifications and follow rigorous testing before they can be used in commercial aircraft.

Like its counterparts in the US and UK, the EU SAF Clearing House will support the approval of new SAF pathways using the ASTM D4054 process: the recognised industry Standard Practice for evaluating new aviation fuels and additives by acting as a virtual forum for advice on data quality, testing facilities and qualification. This will reduce the high cost and complexity of certification and is seen as key to unlocking higher volumes and encouraging a variety of feedstocks.

The EU SAF Clearing House will also provide sustainability services for prospective fuel producers and focus on nurturing a mature SAF supply chain in Europe, participating at technical events, advising on research and innovation, and promoting policy coherence.

Dr Rui Neiva, Principal Consultant, Sustainable Transport at Ricardo and Programme Manager for the EU SAF Clearing House believes the Clearing House will spur the market for SAF in Europe further afield: “The Clearing House will be an important milestone in the journey to a cleaner, more sustainable aviation sector in Europe. The certification of new fuels, for example, will unlock new opportunities for SAF production and the diversification of feedstocks. We have extensive experience of bringing together networks of technical organisations in sectors such as automotive, aerospace and urban transit to collaborate on specific industry challenges. We will be bringing the same organisational expertise to this project, and we look forward to working with our consortium partners, the wider aviation industry and EASA to deliver a service recognised for its efficiency, impartiality and deep technical insight.”