Italy’s Eni has announced the launch of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production as part of the company’s decision not to use palm oil by 2023.

With the initiative, Eni aims to reach a production capacity of 500,000 tonnes per year of SAF by 2030 to contribute to the decarbonisation of the aviation industry.

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SAF will initially be produced at Eni’s refinery in Taranto through a 0.5% used cooking oil co-feeding process for conventional plants.

However, SAF production is expected to grow to over 10,000 tonnes per year at the company’s Livorno refinery by early 2022.

The bio-components used in this process to make the so-called “Eni Biojet” will be exclusively waste products like the ones utilised on cooking oil and fats. Initial products will be sold to major airlines, including state-owned flag carrier ITA Airways.

The company plans to produce another 150,000 tonnes per year of SAF from renewable materials at its Gela biorefinery in 2024.

"This is a very important milestone in our journey to decarbonize and fully reflects our pragmatic approach to the energy transition," said Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi.

"This approach involves using technology to cut emissions in sectors such as aviation, which are high emitters but at the same time need to be nurtured because they are crucial to growth and development."

"We are committed to being a technological leader in the energy transition, leveraging existing skills and assets, and this is a further step in that direction, as well as an important contribution at system level."

The company plans to double its current bio-refining capacity of 1.1 million tonnes per year in four years, and increase it to 5 million or 6 million tonnes per year by 2050.