A new blockchain platform has been launched that aims to offer airlines a way to sell Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) credits to business customers, with the revenue channelled into supporting the development of the nascent lower carbon fuel sector.
Oil and gas major Shell, professional services giant Accenture, and corporate travel agency American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GMT) this morning launched Avelia, a platform which will enable airlines to sell credits for SAF that has already been delivered into the global aviation fuel network to corporate travellers in a transparent and traceable manner.
The hope is that both airlines and business travelers looking to reduce their climate impact and meet net zero goals will jump at the opportunity to use the platform to help boost the adoption of cleaner aviation fuels, which are seen as the most promising way to decarbonise aviation in the near term, given that zero emission hydrogen-powered and electric aircraft remain in their infancy.
The companies behind the scheme said that emissions reductions generated through the scheme should be able to be counted towards corporate climate goals, noting that its use of blockchain technology would help avoid issues such as double counting of emissions savings.
The ability to sell SAF credits would also provide airlines with a new financial incentive to switch to SAFs, which currently cost considerably more than conventional fuels.
“Our vision for the Avelia platform is to bring together airlines, corporates, cargo players, and SAF suppliers in a trusted ecosystem that no individual company could build or access on its own,” explained Rachel Barton, Europe strategy lead at Accenture. “Blockchain technology will be piloted to help ensure trust via data integrity, validate proof of ownership, and enable transparent tracking of the environmental benefits of SAF for customers.”
The platform aims to leverage blockchain technology and a “book-and-claim” model to ensure that money raised through SAF purchases by busines travellers is channelled to the suppliers that need it in a robust and transparent manner.
“SAF is a key enabler of decarbonisation in the aviation industry, and it’s available today,” said Jan Toschka, president of Shell Aviation. “However, it’s currently scarce and costs more than conventional jet fuel. Avelia will help trigger demand for SAF at scale, providing confidence to suppliers like us to further increase investment in production, and in turn helping to lower the price point for these fuels. “
The “book and claim” model allows an airline to effectively purchase SAF, or SAF-related emissions reductions, without being physically connected to a SAF supplier.
While the customer in question is not technically flying on a flight using low carbon SAFs, the purchase via a book-and-claim system provides funding towards the development of cleaner fuels, explained Elena Schmidt, executive director of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB ), which helped develop Avelia.
“Book and claim has the potential to significantly increase the market access to SAF and, in turn, support aviation decarbonisation efforts,” she said. “It allows airlines and their customers to invest in SAF and purchase its environmental claims without needing to be tied to a production site.
“As long as the value chain is based on a robust system… the net environmental effect of SAF will be ensured.”
Blockchain technology should help ensure that Avelia is providing a service that is both robust and transparent, added Jesse Morris, CEO of Energy Web, a non-profit technology that develops blockchain operating systems to decarbonise the energy sector, which also worked on the project.
“We are confident Avelia will provide credible and verifiable information about SAF by leveraging the power of blockchain and decentralised tech, which will help grow business demand and decarbonise the aviation industry,” he said.
Shell, Amex GBT, and Accenture have helped develop the platform and are also its first customers. Shell has committed to purchasing 100,000 gallons of SAF over the pilot phase of the programme, whereas Amex GMT said it would promote the program to its tens of thousands of business travel customers around the world.
Overall, Avelia is aiming to sell credits for around one million gallons of SAF in total over its pilot phase. It has been billed by its founders as the world’s largest “book-and-claim” pilot at its launch.