Environmental Readiness

Environmental Sustainability Overview

The CAAFI Sustainability Team identified the need for a common understanding of environmental sustainability issues among the stakeholder community to facilitate understanding of environmental performance measures and engender confidence when entering off-take agreements for alternative jet fuels. While there are growing concerns regarding environmental and other risks associated with petroleum-based jet fuel, which might be addressed through the development and deployment of alternative jet fuels, the development of a new industry for alternative fuels also has its risks and challenges. Central among these are sustainability issues, and as one of the key drivers for adoption of alternative fuels is environmental benefit, the environmental sustainability challenges of alternative fuels have come under intense scrutiny. As the aviation community seeks to adapt to the changing energy landscape and facilitate the development and use of alternative jet fuels, the industry will need to ensure that the fuels into which it invests political and economic capital will provide the hoped-for benefits (environmental, economic, and social). This document is intended to provide some common ground for discussing the environmental sustainability challenges associated with the development, deployment, and use of alternative jet fuels. This document is a working document, which will be subject to revision and updates over time as deemed appropriate by the CAAFI Sustainability Team.

Environmental Progression

To facilitate evaluations of Fuel and Feedstock Readiness, the CAAFI Sustainability Team developed the Environmental Progression with input from a variety of organizations and stakeholders to provide guidance on when different environmental analyses might best be performed during the development of a new fuel production process. For example, aspects of environmental sustainability that are potentially difficult to mitigate or are irreversible (e.g., land use conversion and biodiversity impacts or invasive species introduction) need to be evaluated prior to facility establishment or feedstock introduction. Some of these (e.g., invasive species risks and/or impacts) also need to be evaluated both during scale up and during operations. Critical sustainability indicators such as GHG emissions may also be preliminarily evaluated prior to scale up (screening level GHG life cycle analysis (LCA)). Other evaluations may be done during scale up (e.g., study level GHG LCA). Other measures may not be possible until a commercial facility is in development (e.g., acquisition of permits) or established (e.g., compliance with permits, comprehensive GHG LCA). In many cases these evaluations should also be repeated over the course of development and/or process refinement, as the evaluation results may change substantially due to changes (including possible improvements) over time.

This tool parallels the Fuel and Feedstock Readiness Level tools and can be used in conjunction with them to better understand the developmental status of a fuel and/or feedstock.