Policy Scenarios for Advancing Sustainable Aviation Fuels in California

Research Team: Mark Hansen (lead), Tim Lipman, Colin Murphy, and Jin Wook Ro

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley, UC Davis

Problem Statement: To meet California’s carbon neutrality goals, hard-to-decarbonize sectors, such as aviation, are receiving heightened scrutiny from state policy makers. In particular, there is growing interest in policies that encourage the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), including biofuels, hydrogen, and electricity, for both aircraft and ground support equipment. California will likely play a leading role, as it accounts for 17% of the nation’s jet fuel consumption, by far the largest share of any state. Furthermore, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard incentivizes SAF. The design of state policies that effectively promote aviation decarbonization, however, must recognize the unique characteristics of the aviation sector when compared to other forms of transportation, including the importance of fuel weight and volume, long aircraft lifetimes, the high proportion of interstate aviation traffic, and the role of the federal government in aviation policy making. Recognizing these challenges, California decision makers must consider how much SAF can contribute to the 2045 carbon neutrality target, what forms of SAF to prioritize, and what policies are best suited to promote SAF use in California.

Project Description: This project will identify and assess state policy options for decarbonizing aviation using SAF for both aircraft and ground service vehicles. The research will assess the current state of SAF technology, inventory existing state policies and programs that might be adapted to include SAF, and identify other potential policies and programs that may be tailored to promote SAF adoption. The researchers will also characterize interactions between the production of SAF and other alternative fuels to better understand where constraints on SAF production could arise. The researchers will develop and analyze a set of state policy scenarios for promoting SAF.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $80,000