Tech giant Microsoft will support the decarbonisation of corporate air travel and its supply chain cargo through the purchase of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) certificates from SAF producer and low-carbon solutions provider World Energy. 

The ten-year agreement is the longest ever signed within a SAF certificate Book and Claim tracking framework, according to World Energy and will displace an estimated 43.7 million gallons of traditional jet fuel with SAF. 

Katie Ross, Microsoft’s director of carbon reduction strategy and market development, said: “This agreement exemplifies the power of collaboration and technology in driving meaningful change in one of the hardest-to-abate sectors. 

“Not only will it help to reduce our business travel and supply chain logistics emissions, but we hope this agreement will inspire others to take action and support the transition to alternative fuels that will enable a decarbonised aviation industry.”

Calculations made by World Energy predict that the deal will reduce emissions by 469,000t of CO₂, equivalent to flying 824,053 economy-class passengers from Seattle to New York and back on fully decarbonised flights.

The type of agreement means that Microsoft will effectively purchase the environmental attributes of SAF separate from the fuel itself, with the production and use of its “purchased” fuel tied to its SAF certificates through a digital chain of custody system known as Book and Claim.

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The SAF will be produced at World Energy’s facility in Paramount, California, in the US and will achieve the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterial certification.

Additionally, the SAF producer is hoping that the large and lengthy commitment will support the emergence of the aviation decarbonisation industry by helping operations at scale become profitable sooner. 

World Energy CEO Gene Gebolys said: “Through this agreement, we will empower one of the world’s most recognised innovators to grow their business while minimising their carbon impact and together we’re committing to making a sustained push well into the next decade to decarbonise aviation at ever greater scale.” 

The agreement continues a significant investment campaign by Microsoft into the SAF industry, following on from its major deal with the International Airlines Group that co-funded the purchase of 14,700t of SAF, enough to fuel around 300 British Airways flights from the UK to the US with a 787 jet. 

Microsoft’s agreement with World Energy also comes the same week as a partnership between Abu Dhabi energy company Masdar and Boeing, which will also look at advancing and supporting the development of SAF policies in the UAE and the scaling up of technology around the world. 

Investment in alternative fuel has also been bolstered by the European Parliament’s plan to bind European airports to SAF targets, meaning they would have to make up 70% of fuel use by 2050.