The Port of Seattle became the first United States airport operator to set a specific timetable and goals for transitioning all airlines at SEA to commercially competitive sustainable aviation fuels. The goal is to power every flight fueled at SEA with at least a 10% blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2028. Explore the Port’s role to bring SAF to SEA airport here.
Research and Reports
A recent report (February 2020) done in partnership with Washington State University evaluated the availability of regional feedstocks to meet the Port’s SAF goal. The report found that there are sufficient waste sources (woody debris, municipal solid waste) and several technology options to convert the sources into sustainable jet fuel and exceed the Port’s goal. Read the Potential Northwest Regional Feedstock and Production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel Report.
In 2017, Carbon War Room/Rocky Mountain Institute and SkyNRG investigated the feasibility of using different airport revenue streams at SEA to help bring down the cost to all airlines compared to petroleum jet fuel, as well as support the build-out of fueling infrastructure. The report identified a range of funding sources, and included ways an airport could be involved without directly paying for fuel. Read the Innovative Funding for Sustainable Aviation Fuel at U.S. Airports Report.
In 2016, the Port joined other stakeholders to investigate the best locations to store and blend SAF into the airport’s fueling systems. The report identified some key locations on and off the airport’s property. The Port may have access to land to support locations for blending or production facilities. Read the Aviation Biofuels Infrastructure Feasibility Study.
Industry Events to Advance Sustainable Aviation Fuel
- The Port of Seattle Commission hosted a study session on April 27, 2021 to review progress implementing the Port’s SAF strategic plan and significant investments of the private sector in SAF production and use in Washington. The Port is playing a key role in efforts to facilitate the adoption and local production of SAF with private sector partners at Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Microsoft, and Breakthrough Energy, which were highlighted at the SAF study session where they shared their strategies and action for this climate priority.
- The Port of Seattle was joined by industry leaders, state policy makers and researchers from Washington State University on October 22, 2020 for an industry and policy forecast on the future of clean fuels for Washington state. Explore the program, research and Commissioner remarks.
- At the Washington Sustainable Aviation Fuels Summit on March 7 and 8, 2019, Governor Inslee, former Secretary of U.S. Navy Ray Mabus, Port of Seattle Commissioners and industry leaders came together to focus on opportunities to develop a Washington-based supply chain of clean and sustainable fuels for aviation. Dig into the presentation materials.
Leadership on Sustainable Aviation Fuel
The Port of Seattle Commission set the most aggressive goals of any airport for the implementation of SAF. This has been a central environmental priority of the Port since it began working with state and regional partners on sustainable fuels in 2008, as part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest initiative. Read the report.
The Port works with partners as part of the WA State Aviation Biofuels Work Group that was established by the Washington State Legislature in 2012 and recently re-convened in 2018. The workgroup has provided three reports to the Legislature, including policy recommendations to help Washington become a leader in developing a sustainable aviation fuels market. Since 2012, the Legislature has implemented measures to speed permitting of infrastructure for SAF deployment.
On October 14, 2021, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Port of Seattle Commission President Fred Felleman, Alaska Airlines, SkyNRG, and Climate Solutions discuss the critical role Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) can play in transition to a cleaner and less carbon intensive economy. Senator Cantwell raised provisions she authored to create a new SAF grant program and tax credit included in the pending reconciliation bill. Watch the press conference.
Today, the Port continues its work to support common-sense public policy changes that would help push this effort across the finish line.
Currently, Washington state is home to several innovative biofuel production companies that are selling their products out of state to California, Oregon, and British Columbia. In those jurisdictions, the presence of a statewide “clean fuel standard” policy creates a market for sustainable fuels that we do not have in Washington.
In 2017, the state’s Aviation Biofuels Work Group submitted recommendations to the Legislature that identified a statewide clean fuel standard as key to full-scale implementation of SAF.
What is Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)?
- SAF is a jet fuel made from renewable sources such as used cooking oil, animal tallow, wood waste, algae, oilseeds, municipal solid waste, etc.
- SAF is a fuel that can range in its renewable content and has been certified to the same safety standards as petroleum Jet-A. This is typically done by blending “raw” or “neat” aviation biofuels with Jet-A.
What are the Benefits of SAF?
- SAF reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 50-80% compared to fossil fuel.
- Biofuel feedstock, or source material, absorbs carbon dioxide during its growth cycle
- SAF reduces sulfur emissions, soot, and ultra-ne particulates. All of which are associated
with adverse human health impacts.
- Biofuels, when blended, are virtually identical to the Jet A-1 fuel currently in use.
- SAF can simply be dropped into the current fuel supply. No new engines, no new aircraft and no separate fuel delivery systems are needed at airports.
- Creates clean energy jobs throughout our state, from Eastern Washington farmers to Northwest Washington reners to aviation industries roles in the Puget Sound.
What role can the Port of Seattle play to bring SAF to SEA?
Infrastructure – In 2016, the Port joined other stakeholders to investigate the best locations to store and blend SAF into the airport’s fueling systems. The report identified some key locations on and off the airport’s property. The Port may have access to land to support locations for blending or production facilities.
Partnerships – The Port is in a unique position to help aggregate demand for fuel and send a strong market signal for SAF production here in Washington state. One major tactic to this end is the creation of an annual Washington SAF Summit, which the Port first hosted in March 2019 - bringing together advocates, producers, business leaders and elected officials to raise awareness and identify opportunities for collaboration. For more information, visit www.washingtonsaf.org.
Financing – In 2017, Carbon War Room/Rocky Mountain Institute and SkyNRG investigated the feasibility of using different airport revenue streams at SEA to help bring down the cost to all airlines compared to petroleum jet fuel, as well as support the build-out of fueling infrastructure. The report identified a range of funding sources, and included ways an airport could be involved without directly paying for fuel.
Advocacy – The Port can reduce barriers and help create incentives for SAF use through advocacy at the local, state and federal level:
- Implementing a state clean fuel standard.
- Ensuring authority for airports to use airport revenue and federal grant funding to support the air quality and carbon reduction benefits of fuel switching.
- Better leveraging US Departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture funding for SAF research and implementation.
- Funding new and expanded federal loans, grants and incentives for SAF feedstock production and processing, as well as biorefinery construction.