A study has found that Ireland has the potential to develop a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry generating revenue of €2.55bn by 2050.

The study – Ireland’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel Opportunity – was produced by SkyNRG and SFS Ireland, in a partnership supported by Avolon, Boeing and ORIX Aviation. Launched by Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD, it looks at the key role SAF will play in helping the aviation industry achieve its net zero goal by 2050.

To meet EU-mandated SAF volumes alone, Ireland will require approximately ten SAF plants of 80 kilo tonnes production capacity each. This would create an Irish SAF sector generating revenue of €2.55bn per annum and could provide up to 1,000 high-skilled jobs in direct and indirect employment. Further export opportunities could significantly increase these numbers.

The research finds that the biggest opportunity for Ireland lies in Power to Liquid (PtL) production of eSAF, a synthetic fuel produced by combining green hydrogen (extracted through electrolysis from water using renewable energy) with biogenic CO2. SAF derived from bio-based intermediates like renewable natural gas has the potential to scale up more rapidly to fulfil the advanced biofuels portion of the ReFuelEU mandate.

Significant progress is required for Ireland to be able to develop eSAF at scale, particularly to ensure there is enough excess renewable power available to produce hydrogen in the required quantities. The increased levels of offshore wind power generation that government initiatives are targeting by 2030 will put the country in a stronger position to develop a domestic SAF industry.



Among the key policy initiatives the research recommends are the inclusion of sustainable aviation in climate action plans; incentivising mechanisms for a viable PtL business case; funding and promotion of SAF technologies leveraging Ireland’s third-level institutions and government entities; and investment in hydrogen storage and transport.

Minister Simon Coveney said at the launch: “The [Irish] Government is committed to supporting EU and international action to reduce aviation emissions. The European Green Deal has set ambitious targets for reducing net emissions by at least 55% by 2030, when compared to 1990 levels, and to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050. We welcome the proactive approach from the aviation sector to progress its own net zero commitments.

This research shows that there are clear future economic benefits from the green economy, which can create new jobs and exciting new business ventures. We look forward to engaging further with industry to explore Ireland’s SAF potential.” 

Image: Avolon