Aircraft Leasing Ireland Members Announce Funding for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Research at Global Aviation Sustainability Day

November 20, 2023

Aircraft Leasing Ireland (ALI), the Ibec group representing the aircraft leasing industry, has today announced the funding of a new research project on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production during the sector's second Global Aviation Sustainability Day Conference at the Convention Centre Dublin.

The Global Aviation Sustainability Day brings together senior leaders and expert voices from across the aviation industry, including lessors, airlines, regulators, fuel producers, manufacturers, and financiers. This year’s theme focused on action and collaboration and featured a keynote address by Willie Walsh, Director General of airline regulator IATA.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)

The four-year research project, a collaboration between Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick, will examine potential avenues for manufacturing SAF in Ireland. SAF will play a crucial role in achieving the aviation industry's goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. To meet this objective, the European Commission has introduced legislation requiring that SAF constitutes 2% of the fuel uplifted at EU airports by 2025, gradually increasing to over 70% by 2050. However, the current SAF supply falls significantly short of the 2025 target, making the scale-up of SAF production critical.

The primary focus of the study will be to identify how Ireland can establish a sustainable and viable supply chain for SAF raw materials, while also proposing scenarios in which a substantial quantity of SAF can be produced efficiently on the island. The study is set to commence in 2024 and will run for four years. It will be led by Associate Professor Stephen Dooley and Assistant Professor Mohammad Reza Ghanni of Trinity College Dublin, along with Professor Luuk Van der Wielen of the University of Limerick.

Marie-Louise Kelly, Chairperson of ALI, remarked on the project's launch, saying, “Increasing SAF supply is a critical global challenge that is key to unlocking a sustainable future for the aviation sector. Our members are determined to help position Ireland as a leader in the sector by investing in research initiatives that will identify what’s needed for the scale-up of SAF. This research will give Ireland the opportunity to establish this leadership position in SAF production by mapping out the key data needed to establish effective supply chains.”

Elizabeth Bowen, newly appointed Director of ALI, added, " Ireland is well positioned to become a global centre of excellence for the production of SAF given our sophisticated agriculture industry and plans to harness large amounts of renewable offshore wind electricity. Not only will this be vital from a sustainability perspective, but it will also create significant economic opportunities for Ireland across the regions. The question is whether the details add up in the right way to make SAF production in Ireland both sustainable and profitable."

Associate Professor Stephen Dooley of Trinity College Dublin emphasized, "Sustainable aviation fuel is critical to delivering the industry's ambitious net-zero targets for 2050. If we are to meet the EU-mandated targets, we are facing a race to find locations and processes that can produce SAF – something that this research is committed to unlocking."

Professor Luuk Van der Wielen of the University of Limerick stated, "We believe that Ireland has huge potential not only to develop a self-sustaining SAF supply chain for its own needs but also to become a net exporter of SAF. This study, conducted in partnership between Aircraft Leasing Ireland, the University of Limerick, and Trinity College Dublin, will aim to help realise this potential by analysing various possible SAF production scenarios on the island of Ireland."