Proof of Carbon-Offsetting Investment in SAF

One particular carbon-offsetting program offers proof of investment into sustainable aviation fuel production. Chris Kjelgaard discusses Rolls-Royce’s SAFinity program with Andy Robinson…

Chris Kjelgaard  |  24th May 2023
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    Chris Kjelgaard
    Chris Kjelgaard

    Chris Kjelgaard has been an aviation journalist for more than 40 years and has written on multiple topics...

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    While the wider question remains of just how much Business Aviation users’ participation in carbon-reduction programs will eventually provide direct investment in development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) feedstock resources, production and delivery infrastructure, a pioneering program combining carbon-offsetting with SAF investment already exists, designed specifically for the BizAv community.

    Still in final development, the SAFinity program designed and soon to be offered worldwide by Rolls-Royce is the first such program of its kind, the engine manufacturer believes.

    Offering program subscribers a portfolio of high-quality, independently verified carbon-reduction schemes as the basis for purchases of carbon credits to offset their jet fuel use, SAFinity will direct portions of its revenues towards production of SAF, according to Andy Robinson, Senior Vice President, Services – Business Aviation, Rolls-Royce.

    Via a web portal, each subscriber will input the type of aircraft it flies and the number of flying hours the aircraft operates. From that information SAFinity will calculate the subscriber’s overall jet fuel consumption before letting the subscriber choose the level of program contribution it wishes to make.

    Each subscriber can choose to offset any proportion of its overall fuel consumption. Originally announced in May 2021, SAFinity began a soft launch with the Luxaviation Group in 2022 and it will be offered to the entire business aviation community for subscription soon. Robinson stresses that from the outset SAFinity was deliberately designed for Business Aviation operators and users to be the first and primary customers.

    Rolls-Royce Partnering with Shell

    In creating SAFinity, Rolls-Royce partnered with Shell, which provides the sustainable fuel and the carbon-reduction projects that underpin SAFinity. Shell will use the funds directed from the program to invest in SAF production.

    While Shell is the only SAFinity program partner, Rolls-Royce is working with other companies to enhance SAF development, Robinson says, including Air BP which Rolls-Royce has contracted to provide 10% of the SAF the OEM uses in its engine testing efforts.

    The carbon-reduction programs on which SAFinity rests are supported and part- managed by Shell. One is the REDD+ Cordillera Azul National Park in Peru and the other is Katingan Mendaya in Indonesia, which claims to be the world’s largest carbon emissions-reduction forest project. Both are independently verified by non-profit environmental standards organization Verra.

    Although SAFinity is initially designed to provide as a default position 99% of its revenues to the two huge carbon-offsetting projects and 1% toward SAF investment, Robinson says each customer can, at its discretion, alter and specify how much of its total subscription amount it wants to be used for reinvestment in SAF resources. “There are no maximum or minimum caps or limitations.”

    SAFinity: Not Just for Rolls-Royce Engine Operators

    SAFinity has two other important features which could potentially make it useful to all Business Aviation operators and users: One is that the program is “Rolls-Royce-agnostic”, according to Robinson, meaning even operators and owners whose aircraft don’t have Rolls-Royce engines can subscribe.

    The second is that, like many other sustainability-investment programs, SAFinity is structured as a “book-and-claim” program in which the sustainability claim made by each subscriber – its purchase of carbon-reduction credits – is separated from the physical flow of the goods involved (i.e., the SAF in which the program is investing).

    No SAFinity subscriber need be concerned that the carbon offsets it is purchasing won’t result later in SAF it can actually pour into its own aircraft’s fuel tanks.

    All the SAF created and purchased indirectly by SAFinity subscribers will go into the general SAF production and delivery infrastructure worldwide and will be delivered to the points of sale where SAF actually will be available to pump into aircraft.

    So even if a SAFinity subscriber fuels its aircraft at an airport where SAF isn’t and won’t be available in the foreseeable future, it can rest assured that the SAF its subscriptions have paid for will be delivered to an aircraft operator somewhere in the world, and will result in the respective CO2 reduction.

    Significant SAF Interest from BizAv Community

    SAFinity has already generated a lot of interest in the Business Aviation community, Robinson says. “There has been an overwhelming response [from BizAv operators and users]. There’s a lot of interest in how it works, and to increase the percentage [of SAFinity revenues] going to SAF.”

    Rolls-Royce wants to support different stages of the SAF development effort, he adds. “We want to encourage producers to invest in SAF and to stimulate demand. We see ourselves playing a leading role, in collaboration with the industry, in achieving those goals,” he says.

    Indeed, Rolls-Royce is “working to ensure that all Rolls-Royce engines in production are compatible with the use of 100% SAF by the end of this year”, Robinson concludes.

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