Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production in the USA could reach 2.2bn gallons (8.3bn litres) by 2026 while global output could total 4bn gallons (15.14bn litres), according to research by Rabobank reported by World Grain.

However, policy uncertainty along with future competition from non-biobased SAF feedstocks were the biggest challenges facing the SAF sector, Owen Wagner, Rabobank senior analyst (grains and oilseeds), was quoted as saying in the 31 August report.

“For the time being, biofuels are the only viable solution … and SAFs offer tremendous potential for the industry for the next 20 years,” Wagner added.

Seven different methods of SAF production had been approved by international standards organisation ASTM using vegetable oil-based feedstocks, municipal solid waste, sugars and ethanol.

Of US production coming online in the next three years, 73% will use the hydrotreated esters and fatty acids (HEFA) production platform, according to the ‘Future for Sustainable Aviation Fuels’ report.

Feedstock availability could also affect SAF expansion, Wagner said.

If the planned SAF capacity came online and operated at full capacity, it would require 7.5M tonnes of vegetable oil and 10M tonnes of corn by 2026, according to the report.

There had been a surge in new soyabean crushing facilities in the last three years, coinciding with growing demand for renewable diesel, Wagner said. Collectively, the announced projects were equal to a one-third increase in US capacity.

However, one company had cancelled plans for a facility in Missouri and more could follow due to policy uncertainty and higher costs along with availability problems for speciality equipment, Wagner said.