ACT and NREL Forge Alliance to Drive Sustainable Aviation Innovation

SAN FRANCISCO, March 11, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Aviation Climate Taskforce, Inc. (ACT) and The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have joined forces through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to bolster the collaboration and impact of both institutions in driving sustainable aviation.

ACT, with a charitable mission to shape the future of sustainable flight, has unveiled its latest endeavor, the Systemic Approaches for Aviation Research Initiative (SAFARI). As the steward for SAFARI, ACT will oversee membership expansion and administration, leveraging NREL’s advanced systems analysis and technical capabilities in bridging researchers from disparate communities towards a cohesive and aligned RDD&D network.

Doug Arent, NREL executive director of strategic public-private partnerships, stated, “Decarbonizing aviation demands unprecedented collaboration to de-risk dynamic supply chains and rapidly deploy new energy technologies. NREL is committed to asking the right research questions, wielding the best tools for data-driven answers, and forming partnerships to accelerate existing federal, state, and industry programs and collaboration.”

NREL has decades of focused leadership in clean energy research, development, and deployment. From its work in basic sciences to systems engineering, modeling, testing, and analysis, NREL researchers are focused on solving high-priority problems that result in market-ready solutions. The laboratory’s sustainable aviation initiative aims to develop decarbonization pathways with a holistic perspective to address all energy aspects of the aviation ecosystem—from net-zero-carbon energy sources to infrastructure optimization and aircraft propulsion technologies.

Collaborative projects between ACT and NREL may encompass a wide spectrum of research areas, including aviation decarbonization pathways (e.g., sustainable aviation fuel [SAF], hydrogen, electric propulsion, power-to-liquids), feedstock development, systemic energy supply chain interdependencies, operational resilience, infrastructure optimization, and aircraft efficiency enhancement.

Both organizations acknowledge the significant funding challenges inherent in the decarbonization of the aviation sector. Tom Light, CEO of ACT, said, “Addressing these challenges requires a combination of public and private funding, including philanthropic contributions. We are working to grow the coalition, and welcome members from all stages of the aviation value chain.”

The aviation industry, responsible for approximately 11% of transportation-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and 3% of total anthropogenic CO2 emissions, faces an urgent imperative for decarbonization. With global passenger numbers projected to double by 2037, immediate action is essential to mitigate escalating emissions. While emerging technologies like electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft show promise, SAF presents a tangible, near-term solution for reducing the carbon footprint of aviation. Today, SAF can cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 80% over the fuel lifecycle and can be used as a direct replacement (drop-in) for fossil-based aviation fuel. Future SAF, broadly defined to include synthetic and semi-synthetic fuels, could cut GHG emissions even further. However, global SAF production is still minuscule, constituting only 0.1% of all jet fuel. Hence, innovations are needed to make aviation fuels cleaner, more affordable, and available at-scale sooner.

Mike Deimler, the Global Leader of Innovations at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and a founding member of ACT, stressed the need for collective action, stating that, “ACT represents one of the most advanced initiatives for collaborating on breakthroughs in early-stage aviation technologies. Industry sectors must adopt more open and unified approaches like SAFARI to accelerate the deployment of solutions.”

Discover SAFARI and learn how to participate or become a member, visit

Learn more about NREL’s research capabilities for sustainable aviation.

About Aviation Climate Taskforce

Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT) is a charitable non-profit organization that seeks to accelerate breakthroughs in critical emerging technologies required to achieve net-zero emissions. ACT was founded by 10 leading global airlines in partnership with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to address the pre-competitive challenge of decarbonizing the aviation sector by supporting advanced R&D within a skill-sharing network. ACT provides grants to researchers and a support model with relevant functional and market expertise to better prepare research teams for the practical challenges and complexities of aviation’s path to decarbonization.

For media inquiries, please contact Brian Bannister: +1 44 7733 886 145 or

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SOURCE Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT)

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