Google has joined Shell’s Avelia program, aiming to boost sustainable aviation biofuels and reduce emissions in the corporate travel sector.
In a move reflecting the growing corporate focus on sustainability, Google has teamed up with a blockchain initiative backed by Shell to champion the use of sustainable aviation biofuels (SAF). The platform facilitates the sale of SAF credits to businesses, pouring the revenue into the budding market for low-emission aircraft fuels.
The Avelia program, a brainchild of Shell and American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) launched last year, aspires to provide an initial 1 million gallons of SAF credits to its corporate clientele. To put the impact in perspective, this is enough to fuel nearly 15,000 business journeys between London and New York City.
Avelia's mission is twofold: to foster collaboration between companies and airlines eager to shoulder the extra costs of SAFs and to galvanize demand in the nascent low-carbon biofuel market. Positioning itself at the forefront of innovation, Avelia promotes its platform as among the first blockchain-anchored SAF transaction solutions. This targets companies aiming to minimize their carbon footprint in business travel.
The tech behemoth isn’t the first major corporation to align with Avelia. The program already boasts participation from big hitters like Bank of America and insurance titan Aon. In the aviation circle, notable names include Delta, Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, and Japan Airlines.
Google's commitment isn't an isolated effort in the realm of sustainability. A recent collaboration between Google, American Airlines, and Breakthrough Energy has spotlighted the potential of AI data mapping in limiting the environmental consequences of aircraft contrails. By offering optimized flight routes, the study suggests a significant reduction in the global warming impact of such contrails.
SAFs are steadily gaining traction in the aviation industry, touted as instrumental in cutting flight emissions in the imminent future. These eco-friendly fuels can be derived from diverse sources, encompassing waste oils, crops, and even industrial gases. According to GreenBiz, their most promising feature is the ability to cut emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuels when used as the exclusive power source. However, SAFs are still in their infancy, constituting a mere 0.1% of global aviation fuel. Their cost, being up to eight times that of conventional fuels, presents a significant barrier.
This has sparked concerns about the viability of scaling SAF production and ensuring it remains cost-effective. Andrew Crawley, President at Amex GBT, underlined the centrality of SAF in decarbonizing aviation, especially given that flights contribute to roughly 90% of carbon emissions from business travel. He highlighted the weight of the business travel sector, which is responsible for about 15% of worldwide air trips and generates nearly 40% of airline revenues. Google's partnership with the SAF program exemplifies how industry collaboration can expedite the transition to sustainable aviation.
The alliance between Shell Aviation and Amex GBT, embodied in the Avelia initiative, aims to synergize the vast client base of Amex GBT, which spans 140 countries, with Shell's airline clientele. Their shared vision is clear: amplify demand for SAFs and, in tandem, make them more affordable, sending a strong pro-investment message to the industry.
Jan Toschka, President at Shell Aviation, expressed enthusiasm about Google’s engagement, emphasizing the need for cohesive efforts across all facets of aviation to truly harness the potential of SAFs.
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