Japan government eyes stockpiling sustainable aviation fuel

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Diet Building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, Japan.

The government plans to stockpile sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft.

Two airports, Haneda in Tokyo and Narita in Chiba Prefecture, will be considered as bases for stockpiling.

As the trend of decarbonization spreads around the world, there is a growing movement in Europe to expand the use of SAF, which appears to have encouraged the Japanese government to take this step.

Talks are in progress among the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, airlines and fuel suppliers to start stockpiling SAF by 2027. In addition to Haneda and Narita, the relevant parties are considering establishing bases at Chubu Centrair International Airport in Aichi Prefecture and Kansai Airport in Osaka Prefecture.

SAF is used by mixing it with regular jet fuel. The parties involved will consider stockpiling SAF by mixing it into tanks of regular fuel at airports.

According to the ministry, a total of about 8 million kiloliters of regular fuel was pumped at Haneda and Narita airports in 2019. The goal is to create a system that can stockpile about half that amount of SAF.

How much CO2 is reduced by using SAF varies depending on the type and mixing ratio. In some cases, a mixture of half SAF and half conventional fuel can reduce CO2 emissions by 45% compared to flying with conventional fuel alone.

SAF is made from materials such as cooking oil, ordinary waste and algae. Although it can reduce CO2 emissions, SAF is produced in small amounts and it is relatively expensive, so it is used in blends.

According to the ministry, CO2 emissions from aircraft accounted for under 1% of Japan’s total emissions in fiscal 2018, which is less than that of automobiles.