DOE pushes carbon-offsetting strategy for aviation fuel

Philippine Tribune
Philippine Tribune

A carbon offsetting strategy is being proposed for the fuel usage of the aviation industry, but the policy terrain remains uncertain how the Department of Energy (DOE) and the government in general will be advancing this as part of the country’s overall decarbonization pathway.

The energy department indicated that the targeted production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) may be done through the use of oil feedstock; and the technology experiments being pushed will be those on forestry as well as agricultural wastes and used vegetable oils.

Primarily for the Philippines, the DOE stated that it might be able to leverage on the use of coconut oil (CNO) as potential fuel for the targeted SAF for the aviation sector that could then be aligned for carbon-offsetting scheme in line with the mandate for the use of cleaner fuels in the global aviation industry.

According to Energy Undersecretary Alessandro O. Sales, “the use of SAF is intended to reduce the carbon footprint associated with aviation operations,” adding that “this alternative fuel source, derived from renewable feedstock, holds the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while ensuring the highest safety and performance standard.”

In particular, the DOE emphasized that “the National Biofuels Board (NBB) is mandated to recommend to the DOE the use of biofuel blends in air transport considering the safety and technical viability.” The NBB was formed based on the prescription of the Philippine Biofuels Law or Republic Act 9367.

Nevertheless, even the country’s experiment with biofuel production and fuel usage had not concretely advanced since it was first implemented roughly 15 years ago. Blends by volume, are in fact, stuck at 2.0-percent for biodiesel; and 10-percent ethanol for gasoline products.

Sales added that the market introduction of sustainable fuel for aviation “will contribute to the broader national efforts towards a low-carbon future,” as he also emphasized that the warranted policy framework and regulations for this strategy is still being worked on by relevant government agencies.

Policy proposals for SAF are still very much in the ‘drawing board’ of the DOE, and there are more questions than answers on this solution that the agency has been trying to offer for the aviation industry’s carbon footprints’ trimming.

The department has no answers yet on media queries on how it will incentivize investments for the targeted introduction of sustainable aviation in the country; what are the policy gaps to be addressed; and what is the baseline target being cast for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the country’s air transport system.

At this stage, the DOE just sounded off its “commitment to sustainable fuel for the aviation transport decarbonization,” but getting there is less clear.

On initial steps, the department qualified that it is “collaborating closely with the country’s aviation sector and international partners to decarbonize commercial aviation industry through the use of sustainable aviation fuel.”

In line with that goal, the DOE said it is aware of the international initiatives promoting the use of ‘green fuel’ for aviation – primarily the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) that had been instituted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) .

It was explained that the CORSIA has been designed toward offering “a harmonized way to reduce emissions from international aviation.”

As culled from CORSIA’s timetable, the ICAO member-states including the Philippines, shall start complying with the CO2 off-setting requirements by 2024-2026,  “while the mandatory compliance (is) set for 2027-2035.” 

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