Sustainable aviation biofuel supply chains in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Worldwide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) has commissioned IIASA to assess pathways towards large-scale, sustainable aviation biofuel deployment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

© Gpahas | Dreamstime

© Gpahas | Dreamstime

The WWF-SA and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) are collectively undertaking a project to support the development of sustainable aviation biofuels in South Africa and the sub-Saharan Africa region. This initiative takes place in the wake of the aviation industry’s increasing interest in the use of biofuels as an alternative fuel. WWF-SA commissioned IIASA to conduct a spatially detailed resource assessment for different biofuel feedstocks and develop a set of scenarios of increased future biofuel feedstock demand, subject to defined sustainability criteria.

The IIASA/FAO Global Agro-Ecological Zones (GAEZ) modelling system will be applied for the estimation of the production potential of bio-energy feedstocks across Sub-Saharan Africa. A variety of solaris (tobacco), an additional feedstock of particular interest for aviation biofuels, will be integrated into the GAEZ assessment. A set of defined sustainability criteria for land use (e.g. no deforestation/land-clearing, retain adequate land for food production, preserve protected areas, etc.) together with available land-use data will be employed to estimate, for a small number of scenarios, the extent of land potentially suitable and available for the production of targeted aviation biofuel feedstocks.

Sustainable biofuel supply chains must consider and respect a range of alternative uses of fertile land and scarce water resources. Scenario development relies on  ongoing scenario analysis at IIASA, developed in the context of the International Panel of Climate Change. Socioeconomic variables such as demographic change, urbanization, and economic growth have been projected at country level for impact assessments under different development storylines according to the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. Based on these quantified major drivers and consistent with projected climate changes, future food demand, land productivity, water resources availability, and land required for food and fiber production are estimated. Against this background, and targeted road-transport biofuel demand, pathways towards sustainable aviation biofuels deployment in Sub-Saharan Africa are explored.

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Last edited: 10 July 2018


Günther Fischer

Senior Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 292

Sylvia Tramberend

Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 401


May 2016 - March 2017

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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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