Civil aviation is the backbone of the Indian transportation industry which has boosted business and commerce by carrying goods and people securely and less time-consuming. The industry has seen incredible development in the past few decades and is expected to continue its expansion in the coming years. 

Experts worldwide are working with India to decouple GDP increase from emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), thereby making air travel more efficient. While the aviation sector contributes less than 1 per cent of India's absolute emissions, aviation is among the fastest-growing economic industries. Thereby, India will evolve as the world's third-largest aviation market by 2024.  


With the sector's expected development, decarbonising has become a focused objective. In the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, the nation has started to decrease CO2 in other sectors and a pledge to yield 40 per cent of its electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 is undertaken.  

India, in the year 2020, fulfilled its voluntary mark of decreasing the emission intensity of its GDP by 21 per cent over 2005 levels. Before 2030, it is balanced to acquire a 35 per cent markdown. India has also materialised the latest climate and energy targets, generating 450 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy usage by 2030.  India has specific advantages in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), including an enormous market scope. 

Being one of the world's lowest-cost renewable energy producers, it has ample and sustainable feedstocks. Despite strict sustainability regulations, India’s SAF feedstock has a promising future. India can lead and build its roadmap for installing SAF by leveraging international cross functional expertise and support and input from local stakeholders. 

As eco-conscious air travel becomes a valid global priority, SAF is a cleaner fuel alternative and yields multiple social and economic advantages. According to a report by The World Economic Forum, the SAF sector will yield an integrated GDP equivalent of $ 2.8 billion for India if annual SAF production goes 360,000 tons by 2030. More than 120,000 new green jobs would be designed, agriculturalists' incomes would rise by 10 and 15 per cent, and better waste management systems and less open-air burning would be seen.  There will also be a general decline in pollution. 

Combining technology routes, supporting policies, and new technologies can drive this green ambition forward. Three action paths that can facilitate change in the short term are: 

  1. Producers build on India's National Biofuel Policy and Viability Gap Funding (VFG) to incentivise biofuel analysis and evolution and provide market certainties and government budgets. Jointly at the same time, this can be done by retrofitting 1G and 2G ethanol plants to produce SAF, thereby establishing a quota envelope to support production at near-term SAF facilities. 
  2. To build a world-class solar energy market via government label of SAF production as a focus sector, build on India's national mission with inducements to boost lending rate and volume, associated with Central Financial Assistance. India's meagre cost per unit of renewable electricity, correlated to advancements in industrial carbon capture and on-site production localities, can assist in establishing the country as a multinational leader in SAF development and production. 
  3. Leveraging existing policy levers will drive market transformation while empowering fossil jets to remain external and highly sensitive to changes in global markets. 

Reflecting the country’s population and financial growth, India’s aviation sector is among the fastest growing globally. The aviation industry has accomplished remarkable success in neutralising emissions and lowering carbon emission intensity. The sole near term strategy to reduce carbon emissions is sustainable aviation fuels which go beyond traditional efficiency standards at speed constant with achieving science based goals for the industry.

India can develop core expertise and remain at the forefront green efforts by gaining the combined social and economic advantages of expanding SAF. And as the SAF journey begins, making 'Vision 2030' a reality and setting the stage for cleaner skies in India is imperative for all stakeholders.

This article is authored by Bhakti Jain.

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