Challenging Canadian Innovators to Develop Cleaner Aviation Fuel

News release

August 17, 2018 - Edmonton, Alberta - Natural Resources Canada

Reducing the aviation industry’s environmental footprint will create a more competitive and sustainable industry and is critical for our transition to a lower-carbon economy. Cleaner fuels are central to those efforts.

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, today issued a nationwide challenge to Canadians to develop the cleanest, most affordable and sustainable aviation fuel for the aviation sector to further reduce its carbon footprint and fight climate change.

The Sky’s the Limit Challenge stimulates the development of sustainable aviation fuel supply chains so that the Canadian aviation industry can further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and lower the flying public’s environmental footprint. While the Canadian aviation sector has made significant investments in a fuel-efficient fleet, other measures such as sustainable aviation fuel will be required to achieve industry targets of carbon-neutral growth by 2020 and a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

The Challenge consists of two competitions open to a range of innovators and includes significant prize money:

  • First, the Green Aviation Fuels Innovation Competition provides $2 million apiece for four teams who develop the most innovative solutions, which, in turn, will support their next endeavour: an 18-month competition to produce the most economical and environmentally sustainable aviation fuel and win the $5-million grand prize; and
  • Second, the Cross-Canada Flight Competition, where the first participant to fuel a Canadian commercial flight using a minimum 10 percent blend of made-in-Canada biojet fuel will win $1 million.

Challenge organizers have engaged a wide range of partners to support a biojet supply chain in Canada, including researchers, feedstock supplies, fuel producers and consumers. Air Canada and WestJet will also play key roles in the Challenge by serving as carriers for the Cross-Canada Flight Competition.

The Challenge leverages the international reach of Canada’s Green Aviation Research and Development Network, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to collaborate on projects that can reduce the environmental footprint of the next generation of aircraft engines and avionics systems in Canada.

The Government of Canada is exploring opportunities to purchase biojet fuel for future use in federal aviation fleets once it is commercially available at a competitive price. The Department of National Defence and Transport Canada have indicated their early support for this venture.

The Sky’s the Limit Challenge is the second of five planned challenges under Natural Resources Canada’s $75-million Impact Canada Initiative, which is helping to drive innovation and accelerate the clean growth economy.

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“This unique challenge facilitates collaborations to support a game-changing transformation of the aviation industry. A Canadian-made sustainable aviation fuel will grow our clean economy and create good, middle-class jobs for Canadian workers.”

Amarjeet Sohi
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources

“Reducing emissions from the aviation sector is a priority for the Government of Canada. To achieve our goal, we must collectively find creative solutions to develop cleaner fuels. The Sky’s the Limit Challenge is an innovative idea to leverage Canada’s know-how in fighting climate change.”

Marc Garneau
Canada’s Minister of Transport

“As the 2018 ATW Eco-Airline of the Year, Air Canada supports the advancement of innovative solutions to improve aviation’s environmental performance, and we welcome the announcement by Natural Resources Canada in encouraging further development of sustainable aviation fuel solutions. Air Canada has improved its fuel efficiency by 43 percent since 1990 and is investing $10 billion in a more fuel-efficient fleet. To date, we have operated eight biofuel flights, including our most recent one from Edmonton to San Francisco earlier this spring, demonstrating the potential to reduce our carbon footprint as we continue to foster and advocate for the development of sustainable aviation biofuels in Canada.”

Teresa Ehman
Director, Environmental Affairs, Air Canada

“Since 2009, GARDN has played a pioneer role in the sector of green aviation that includes sustainable fuels by creating industrial research consortia in different stages of the value chain. We truly believe that the environmental challenges faced by the air transport sector can only be surmounted by a shared vision amongst industry, government, academia and society, where collaborative work is key to accelerate the production and integration of sustainable fuels in the aviation sector’s regular operations. GARDN is proud to be a partner in The Sky’s the Limit Challenge, a novel initiative that could help launch a new industry in an effort to improve aviation energy as we know it.”

Sylvain Cofsky
Executive Director, Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN)

“WestJet is proud to support The Sky’s the Limit Challenge and the Cross-Canada Flight Competition, bringing together innovators, industry and government to work together to develop cleaner, affordable biojet fuel to help our industry continue to reduce its carbon footprint. With our long history of innovation, as well as our ongoing participation in a number of clean-fuel initiatives, we look forward to engaging with members of the biojet value chain to meet this challenge to achieve a cleaner, more sustainable future.”

Mike McNaney
Vice President, Industry, Corporate and Airport Affairs, WestJet

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Natural Resources Canada
Media Relations

Emerson Vandenberg
Acting Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources

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