GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 13 DECEMBER 2016
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More airports working towards carbon neutrality as sector makes global progress on CO2 programme
Tue 13 Dec 2016 – At the Paris COP21 climate summit a year ago, the European airport industry pledged to have 50 carbon neutral airports by 2030. Since then, five more airports in Europe have reached that goal, bringing the total number in Europe to 25. Manchester Airport has now joined the list and become the first UK airport to achieve carbon neutrality, and Munich Airport has just announced plans to become Germany’s first carbon neutral airport. Munich intends to spend 150 million euros ($160m) between now and 2030 on a climate protection programme that aims to reduce CO2 emissions directly attributed to the airport’s operations by 60% over the period, with the remaining 40% taking the form of carbon offsets. Outside Europe, Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International has become the second Asia-Pacific region airport to achieve carbon neutral status.
First launched by ACI Europe and now rolled out across all international regions of the trade association, the sector’s CO2 management programme, Airport Carbon Accreditation, has four levels of stringency. The highest Levels 3 and 3+, in addition to requiring a reduction in the airport’s own emissions, also require airports to monitor emissions from third party operations – including aircraft on the ground – and to work with business partners to reduce their emissions too.
Level 3+ Neutrality requires those emissions that cannot be reduced by the airport’s own efforts to be offset using internationally recognised credits such as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), Emissions Reduction Units (ERUs), Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) and European Union Allowances (EUAs). Airports achieving carbon neutrality are entitled to use the UN’s Climate Neutral Now logo.
Congratulating Manchester Airport on its achievement, ACI Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, said: “Becoming carbon neutral is no small feat and serves as a timely reminder of how much work Manchester Airport has put into achieving this goal. They were one of the airports that participated in the pilot phase of the programme and they have worked their way up through the four levels over the intervening years – we actually launched Airport Carbon Accreditation here in Manchester at our Annual Congress in 2009. So it really is a red-letter day for Manchester Airport, for the programme and for air transport in the UK.”
The airport purchases all of its electricity from renewable sources and has invested more than £7.5 million ($9.5m) in energy efficiency projects, working with local and national businesses to develop innovative lighting solutions. Its energy management team has now installed over 25,000 low-energy LED lights throughout the airport, including the first on any UK runway. The airport has also worked with its partners to reduce emissions from aircraft as well as passengers and staff travelling to and from the airport.
Along with the purchase of carbon offsets, the initiatives have collectively reduced emissions from the energy and fuel used to operate the terminals, runways and facilities from 72,000 tonnes CO2e in 2006 to zero in 2016.
“At Manchester Airport, we are committed to being one of the leading European airports when it comes to environmental management. We are proud of our track record,” said CEO Ken O’Toole. “As an organisation we recognise that climate change is an important global challenge. This achievement demonstrates the lengths we go to ensuring we balance our role as an economic generator, alongside caring for the environment, whilst working with our third parties to reduce the wider impact of our industry.”
Measures to achieve carbon neutrality will cover all activities at Munich Airport, specifically energy supply, efficiency improvements in building systems, vehicle fleet optimisation, exterior lighting and further improvements in electric power use of the baggage transport system. The airport says initiatives will range from intelligent control technologies to climate-optimised facades, including a switch to LED technology for runway lighting, increased reliance of renewable energy sources and greater use of electro-mobility in the airport’s vehicle fleet.
“As Europe’s first five-star airport, we also set very high standards for climate protection,” commented CEO Dr Michael Kerkloh. “With our far-reaching climate targets we want to help ensure that the airport’s operations and ongoing development are pursued in ways that preserve the opportunities and possibilities of future generations. With the goal of achieving carbon-neutral airport operations, we are paving the way to sustainable, resource-conserving air transportation.”
Other announcements concerning European airports this month have seen DAA’s Dublin and Cork airports renew at Level 2 Reduction, and Riga International at Level 1 Mapping. Having achieved the first two levels by 2013, Lyon Saint-Exupéry has now reached Level 3 Optimisation, registering a 14.65% decrease in CO2 emissions from 2012 to 2015.
The airport says it has brought the majority of its partners into the emissions reduction process, creating a ‘Carbon Club’ in 2015. More than 20 companies, representing half of the 5,800 employees on the site, have collaborated to extend the data collection on CO2 emissions. This includes employee travel, energy usage and aircraft take-off, landing and taxiing. Further work will be undertaken to extend the widespread use of electric vehicles and the optimisation of aircraft movements before take-off.
“Only 21 other European airports have reached Level 3 of the programme. We would like to congratulate Lyon Airports for stepping up its approach and looking further than their own CO2 emissions by reaching out to companies and partners present on the Lyon Saint-Exupéry site to get involved in the management of their emissions,” said Jankovec.
Last week, Rajiv Gandhi Hyderabad International followed Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International as the Asia-Pacific region’s second airport to become carbon neutral.
“This status is a significant achievement for Hyderabad Airport and is the outcome of our sustained efforts towards the environment,” said SGK Kishore, CEO of GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL). “These efforts include proactive energy conservation measures, generation of solar renewable energy, carbon sinking through extensive greenbelt and various other environmental protection measures, with the active support of the airport’s stakeholders.
“Through this, GHIAL has demonstrated its commitment to support the government of India’s resolution on the nation’s carbon footprint and its obligation under the UNFCCC COP21 global climate agreement.”
Unlike with international aviation, emissions from airports are covered by national efforts under the Paris Agreement.
The two Indian airports join Dallas Fort-Worth, which achieved the carbon neutrality in August (see article) as the only airports outside Europe to reach the ACI carbon programme’s highest level so far.
At a ceremony held during last month’s COP22 climate summit in Marrakech, two of Morocco’s busiest airports, Marrakech-Menara and Casablanca Mohammed V International, operated by ONDA, became certified at Level 1 Mapping.
“We are delighted to see the airports enter Airport Carbon Accreditation – it is great to welcome airports from Morocco into the programme, especially while the country is hosting the COP,” commented Ali Tounsi, Regional Director of ACI Africa during the summit. “It is always good to see new entrants embarking on the journey of better carbon management and we will continue doing everything we can to support them, through the knowledge exchange that comes with being part of this programme – the airport industry’s collective effort to lower its contribution to climate change. This is all the more important as airport climate action also supports the achievement of several UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are of key importance to Africa.”
Niclas Svenningsen, who heads the Climate Neutral Now initiative at the UNFCCC Secretariat, said: “We are very encouraged to see these two airports embark on a strategy to reduce their carbon emissions. Their proactivity underlines how better carbon management can gain ground here in Africa, in parallel to advancing in other parts of the world.”
Further afield, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) was last week certified under the programme at Level 3 Optimisation. Measures by the airport and third parties taken at Montréal-Trudeau include the use of more energy-efficient equipment by airlines, such as pre-conditioned air and ground power units; the ‘greening’ of half the taxi fleet; the addition of charging stations for electric vehicles; the introduction of the Téo electric-taxi service; and the setting up of CellParc, a waiting area for motorists with cellphones coming to the airport to pick up passengers. Other initiatives include environmental awareness campaigns with airport employees and the Écono- Écolo-Pratique programme designed to increase the use of public transit. The airport has also received two other local environmental awards.
“I am extremely proud of these marks of recognition, since they result from an environmental management plan that we have been implementing for several years,” said James Cherry, CEO of ADM. “It’s remarkable. Montréal-Trudeau, the first Canadian airport to obtain GHG emissions-reduction accreditation, is now the fourth in North America to earn certification at the Optimisation level.”
Opened in April 2014, Qatar’s Hamad International (HIA) is unique in having its carbon emissions certified under the ACA programme since it started operations. Although at the first Mapping level, the airport says it has ambitious plans to progress to the higher accreditation levels and become a world-leading airport in climate change management. It has a long-term target to improve carbon efficiency by 30% by 2030, against a 2015 baseline, along with a series of initiatives to help save energy and optimise the consumption of vehicle fuel.
According to its annual carbon footprint report, independently verified by VerifAvia, HIA has already achieved a 4% improvement in carbon emissions per passenger in 2015 compared to 2014, with the ambition to reduce the 2015 baseline of 5.6kgs CO2 per passenger to fewer than 4.0kgs by 2030. A new Energy Working Group has been created to help deliver the target. The group comprises a team of electrical, engineering and environmental technical specialists with the remit to identify and progress energy-saving initiatives across the whole airport campus. New projects that have been implemented include modifications to lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling systems that, when combined, could save up to 4462.6 MWh per year.
Plans are in place to replace the existing high pressure sodium apron flood lights and metal halide light fittings in the airport’s passenger terminal transfer area with LEDs. Another example includes the installation of ‘speed doors’ at vehicular entrances to airport buildings, such as baggage handling areas. These doors help to contain cooled air within the building, reducing the energy burden on cooling systems.
HIA says it recognises achieving its ambitious carbon target will depend on energy efficiency being built into the design of future airport development. Plans for a major extension of the airport terminal include consideration of certification to the silver level of the LEED international green building scheme, and will include over 11,000 metres of photovoltaic cells forecast to generate up to 2,885 MWh of energy per year.
To drive continual improvement in the efficiency of over 2,000 vehicles operating airside, a new Airport Vehicle Programme has been established. This brings together businesses operating airport vehicles within the airport boundary, and is focused initially on developing systems to improve the measurement of vehicle fuel consumption and efficiency.
“At HIA, we believe in our environmental responsibility and are committed to tackling climate change as a core component of our business strategy,” said HIA COO Engr. Mohammed Al Meer. “It is in our best interest to develop a sustainable future for our airport by effectively managing the environmental impacts of our operations.”
The ACI carbon programme now has 173 airports worldwide currently certified, which are responsible for 36.4% of passengers globally.
UK aviation industry says 2050 CO2 targets can be met while still accommodating significant demand growth
Fri 9 Dec 2016 – As government assesses the impact of airport expansion on long-term national carbon targets, the UK industry group Sustainable Aviation (SA) has released a comprehensive update of its CO2 Road-Map, first published in 2012. The general thrust of UK aviation policy is for CO2 emissions from the sector to be no more in 2050 than they were in 2005. To date, UK aviation demand has grown 11% since 2005 while emissions are below 2005 levels, but is expected to accelerate and emissions, according to SA, could rise by 155% under a ‘no-improvements’ scenario. However, even with an increase in runway capacity, SA’s updated roadmap shows that with a combination of changes to operations, improvements in aircraft technology and the introduction of alternative fuels, gross CO2 emissions could peak around 2035 before falling back to near 2005 levels by 2050. To achieve an industry target of halving 2005 emissions by 2050 though would require market-based measures, says SA.
At a Sustainable Aviation reception in the House of Commons this week, Rolls-Royce Environment Strategy Manager Peter Swann said: “This Road-Map sets out our projections of CO2 emissions from UK aviation to 2050 based on the latest evidence. It combines an assessment of growth in aviation activity derived from recently-published Airports Commission’s forecasts with our own analysis and judgement around the available mitigation opportunities, and their likely impact on carbon efficiency.”
The 2012 roadmap proposed a future pathway to achieving the 2050 objective and the updated version remains broadly unchanged although it provides a re-examination of the impact of future fleets, improvements in operational and air traffic management (ATM) practices, and developments in sustainable aviation fuels. It finds that a greater contribution to fuel burn reduction from so-called ‘imminent aircraft’ than was first forecast in the 2012 roadmap will be a major factor in helping offset the increased traffic growth resulting from additional runway capacity in South-East England.
To achieve ongoing delivery of these initiatives will require not only continued focus from the industry itself, but also appropriate levels of government support on both R&D and policy, said Swann. Areas where it sees such support necessary include airspace modernisation, access by the UK aerospace industry to ongoing high-value collaborative R&D funding, a strategy on UK sustainable aviation fuels production and implementing global, rather than regional, market-based mechanisms up to 2050.
SA’s 155% ‘no-improvements’ growth rate of carbon emissions – which assumes technology levels, operational practices and sustainable aviation fuel penetration remains unchanged from 2010 – implies an average annual growth rate of 2.37% between 2010 and 2050. This is slightly higher than the 2.32% forecast in 2012 due to a balancing of more recent demand-growth forecasts, a lowering of ambition on freighter activity growth and the extra demand from the increase in runway capacity.
Improvements in ATM and operational practices are likely to improve the carbon intensity of UK aviation by around 8.7% by 2050 relative to 2010, says the roadmap report, similar to that predicted in 2012. Potential additional savings that have not been factored in could result from the introduction of electric taxiing, the prospects of which are not yet clear, says SA.
An examination of improvements in aircraft and engine efficiency provides most of the roadmap work, looking at the impact of the introduction of ‘imminent’ and ‘future’ generation aircraft. Imminent aircraft that have been re-evaluated or included for the first time in the 2016 roadmap are the Airbus A320neo family, Airbus A321LR, Airbus A330neo, Boeing 737 MAX, Boeing 777X and Boeing 787-10.
SA estimates the introduction of imminent generation aircraft will improve the fleet-average fuel efficiency of UK aviation by some 22% by 2050 relative to the 2010 baseline fleet, with the bulk of this improvement delivered by around 2040.
The new roadmap now considers 10 aircraft categories rather than three, having increased the granularity of its fleet replacement model for the baseline to imminent transition, which has allowed for a more correct capture of the timing of various improvements to fleet fuel efficiency.
SA says in the narrow-body segment, the extent to which the A320neo and 737 MAX will improve upon the fuel efficiency of their respective predecessors is now significantly greater than was understood in 2012. However, the marketplace success of these two types will likely result in their production runs being longer than it anticipated in 2012, so their replacements could be some 10 years later than previously assumed. SA’s fleet replacement model for the imminent to future transition now considers four aircraft categories rather than three, which allows for a distinction between different parts of the wide-body category, whose replacement timescales and characteristics may be different.
As a result, fleet efficiency improvements related to the introduction of imminent aircraft types will be larger than anticipated in 2012, while the subsequent transition from imminent to future aircraft will have a lower impact by 2050 due to its later starting point. However, the net result is that at 2050 the overall improvement in fuel efficiency relative to the 2010 baseline is very similar to its 2012 assessment, says SA. Overall, this should yield a potential improvement in fleet-average fuel efficiency between 2010 and 2050 of some 39%.
The new roadmap retains its 2012 assertion that by 2050 sustainable aviation fuels will offer between 15% and 24% – with a central case of 18% – reduction in CO2 emissions from aviation. This assumption is based on a 25-40% penetration of such fuels into the global aviation market, coupled with a 60% life-cycle CO2 saving per litre of fossil-based aviation fuel displaced. SA says sustainable fuels will be essential in meeting the climate challenges the sector faces in the period to 2050 and the UK should capitalise on its global aerospace leadership and take the opportunities presented by the emerging sustainable fuel market.
Industry was encouraged, it says in the roadmap, by the recent government announcement on a consultation to include aviation in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation in the period to 2030 (see article) and SA urges the government to introduce binding legislation to provide a long-term policy as soon as possible.
The roadmap notes the progress made since 2012 on the development and now adoption of a global market-based measure. The ICAO CORSIA scheme is the next necessary step to enable aviation to contribute to overall carbon reductions beyond those achievable within the industry itself, says SA. There is now widespread acceptance that to fully address CO2 emissions from aviation, and to meet challenging reduction targets, carbon pricing achieved through a carbon trading policy framework is essential, it adds.
Following the ICAO agreement, SA suggests there is now an opportunity for a fresh look at environmental regulation in Europe and to review the EU Emissions Trading System so as to avoid double regulation with separate, overlapping measures and a duplication of administrative obligations. Government should also start the process for a global mechanism for the period after CORSIA ends in 2035, it advises, as this will be essential in supporting the global aviation industry’s commitment to reduce net aviation CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050, relative to 2005 levels.
SA says future updates of its roadmap will assess the impact of Brexit on levels of demand for UK aviation as the consequences unfold, but points to IATA estimates that the number of UK air passengers could be 3-5% lower by 2020 and perhaps an even lower 6% by 2035 in the event of a ‘hard’ rather than ‘soft’ Brexit case.
Commenting on the roadmap update, Sustainable Aviation Chair Ian Jopson said: “This work takes into consideration the latest advances in aircraft design, fuel technology and operational work, and shows that the UK industry can meet the public’s growing demand to fly while meeting our environmental obligations.”
The government’s advisors on the nation’s legally-binding carbon budgets, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said in a major report published in early 2009 that technology, operational and sustainable fuel innovations would allow UK air travel demand to grow by 60% from 2005 to 2050 while emissions in 2050 would be consistent with 2005 levels. To date, says the CCC, aviation demand has grown 11% since 2005, while the latest data shows emissions are below 2005 levels.
However, in a recent letter to UK energy minister Greg Clark, CCC Chairman Lord Deben expressed concerns over business case assumptions on the growth of aviation emissions made by the government when approving a third runway at Heathrow. The business case uses a central case scenario of emissions in 2050 that are about 15% higher than those the CCC had planned for, he said, and that assumption had not accounted for the use of international credits. If aviation emissions were now anticipated to be higher than 2005 levels, then all other sectors, which were already required to reduce their emissions by 85% during the period, would have to go even further under national carbon targets, he argued. The CCC had limited confidence this was possible, he said.
Responding to the letter, Jopson said: “We understand the Committee’s concerns but our research, which is based on the most recent demand forecasts, demonstrates that UK aviation is able to accommodate significant growth to 2050 and still be broadly in line with the Committee’s recommendation to Government.”
The latest available forecasts from the Department for Transport (DfT), published in 2011, show that under a central case, UK aviation CO2 emissions will rise from 33.3Mt in 2010 to 43.0Mt in 2030, within the range 39.7-48.2Mt. After 2030, said the DfT report, the growth of aviation CO2 emissions is forecasted to slow due to the effects of market maturity and airport capacity restraints, and by 2040 begin to stabilise, before starting to fall by 2050. It predicts that in 2050, emissions will reach 47.0Mt, within the range 34.7Mt to 52.1Mt. Under this scenario, emissions can only return to 2005 levels of 37.5Mt under the low case forecast or through carbon offsetting.
The DfT is expected to release during 2017 a strategy to deal with aviation carbon emissions. In a letter to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, UK transport secretary Chris Grayling said the government is considering available policy measures to address the climate impacts of aviation.
“We plan to develop an aviation strategy to replace the aviation policy framework, setting out a framework for the future of the UK aviation sector, including environmental impacts,” he said. “We have begun scoping this work and engaging with industry, including organisations such as Sustainable Aviation, on what it should look like.
“Among available policy measures, sustainable aviation fuels are of strategic importance to reducing carbon emissions in the aviation sector. We are working on ways to encourage the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels, including making them eligible for support under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.”
Grayling also appeared before the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee to answer a wide range of questions from MPs concerning aviation carbon emissions, carbon offsetting under the global CORSIA scheme, aircraft noise impacts around airports, local air quality and airport surface access.
Aviation and shipping growth will undo EU efforts to reduce transport emissions, finds CE Delft study
Wed 7 Dec 2016 – Growth in emissions from air and sea transport will undo EU efforts to reduce those from land transport by 2030 and threaten European climate commitments, concludes campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) following a report it commissioned from consultants CE Delft. Under binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for sectors not covered by the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), land transport – cars, vans, trucks, trains and barges – is expected to consume 43 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) less energy per year in 2030 than it did in 2010. Yet ships and planes in Europe will consume 19 Mtoe more annually in 2030 than they did 20 years earlier, finds CE Delft. Aviation’s share of total EU transport fossil fuel demand is expected to rise from 13% in 2010 to 16% in 2030, while shipping increases from 11% to 14%.
Total fossil fuel demand for the EU transport sector is forecast to decline from 380 Mtoe in 2010 to 356 Mtoe in 2030 (1 Mtoe is equivalent to 7.14 million barrels of oil), with fuels for land use expected to fall from 290 Mtoe in 2010 to 247 Mtoe in 2030. In contrast, aviation fuel demand will rise from 50 Mtoe in 2010 to 59 Mtoe in 2030 and shipping from 40 Mtoe to 50 Mtoe.
The study has factored in the anticipated fuel efficiency gains of the aviation and shipping sectors over the period and estimates aviation at around 1.5% per annum, higher than the 1.0% per annum likely to be achieved by the shipping sector.
T&E points out that unlike aviation, shipping emissions are so far unregulated in the EU, although the European Parliament is about to consider a proposal to fix this by creating a Maritime Climate Fund and including the sector in the EU ETS. The European Commission believes that if included, shipping CO2 emissions could be reduced cumulatively by 80 million tonnes by 2030.
Globally, shipping emissions are expected to account for 17% of all emissions by 2050 – compared to a potential 22% share for aviation – but, reports T&E, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has recently decided to delay by at least seven years any agreement on a global measure. While aviation’s sister UN agency ICAO has agreed to implement a global measure from 2021, it will offset rather than reduce the sector’s CO2 emissions.
“Planes and ships are free riding at the expense of land transport’s already insufficient efforts to cut emissions,” commented Bill Hemmings, Aviation and Shipping Director at T&E. “This is not only unfair but a roadblock to Europe meeting its own climate commitments. Governments need to think again and include shipping in the ETS and strengthen its aviation provisions.”
Transport & Environment – CE Delft study
Engine manufacturer GE Australia joins the Qantas corporate carbon offset programme
Mon 5 Dec 2016 – GE Australia has joined the Qantas Future Planet programme, in which the airline manages carbon offset portfolios for its corporate customers and providing them with access to more than 40 certified offset projects in Australia and overseas. Most of GE’s offsetting is expected to support Australia-based projects that have significant community benefits as well as reducing carbon emissions, such as the North Kimberley fire abatement project lead by native title groups in Western Australia. Other major organisations that have signed up for the airline’s corporate partnership programme, which is an extension of the voluntary carbon offsetting offered to passengers, include international law firm Allens, Destination NSW and Ernst & Young.
“This is a logical next step in the really strong relationship we have with GE. GE’s big data team is already helping us fly more efficiently by analysing and improving our engine performance, so we’re delighted to be extending the partnership by helping them offset their emissions when they travel with us.
“It’s the kind of collaborative approach that’s going to be so important in helping achieve aviation’s ambitious targets in responding to climate change.”
Added Max York, General Manager of GE Aviation in Australia: “Everyone has a responsibility to preserve our planet for future generations, including government, business and individuals. We’re excited to be a foundation partner in a programme which will deliver real environmental benefits for Australians.”
Qantas claims the programme is the largest of its kind in the world, having offset over 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 since it started in 2009.
Qantas pledges to purchase only third-party verified offsets accredited under Australia’s National Carbon Offset Standard, and going beyond accreditation requirements by measuring the social as well environmental impact of projects. The airline says the projects meet strict international standards, including the Verified Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard.
The North Kimberley area is prone to extreme wildfires and indigenous land owners are using traditional fire management techniques, such as early-season dry burns, to prevent uncontrolled fires and so reduce carbon emissions.
Other projects supported under the Qantas programme include April Salumei in Papua New Guinea, which is home to 163 local communities dependent upon rainforest that supports an array of wildlife and ecosystems and is considered one of the ten most important biodiversity hotspots on earth. Papua New Guinea, which is one of the 66 countries to sign up for the initial voluntary phase of the ICAO CORSIA scheme, contains over 5% of the world’s biodiversity in less than 1% of world’s total land area. The offsetting programme also includes protection of a 7,000-hectare native temperate forest in Tasmania and a project to distribute fuel-efficient and healthier cooking stoves to Cambodian families.
Advanced biofuels for aviation set to benefit under proposals to revise EU policy on transport fuels
Fri 2 Dec 2016 – Revisions to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) could see preferential rules applying to advanced aviation and marine fuels to support their deployment in the sectors. Despite significant growth of renewable fuels since 2009, oil supplies 94% of all energy used for cars, trucks, ships and planes, says the European Commission in its extensive “winter package” released this week of policy proposals to improve the bloc’s energy efficiency and meet 2030 climate targets. Further development of advanced alternative fuels will therefore be required and the revised RED aims to introduce an obligation on European transport fuel suppliers to provide an increasing share of advanced biofuels, while at the same time decreasing the use of first generation, food-based biofuels. IATA welcomed the Commission’s proposals and urged policy-makers to go further and prioritise the use of sustainable fuels in air transport.
The Commission’s new framework sets out a target of at least 27% for the share of renewable energy consumed in the EU in 2030. The target is binding and will be fulfilled through a collective delivery of individual Member States’ contributions and allows for more ambitious national targets. Without new policies to promote the deployment of renewables, the Commission believes the current projection of 24.3% of renewable energy consumption will prevent the EU from delivering on commitments made under the Paris Agreement.
However, regulatory uncertainty caused by lengthy political discussions on how to address the risk of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) associated with food-based biofuels has had a negative impact in the deployment of renewables in the transport sector, finds the Commission. Policy-makers have now concluded ILUC impacts are higher than first thought and it is now proposed to introduce a cap on the contribution of food-based biofuels towards the renewable energy target, starting at 7% in 2021 and going down progressively to 3.8% in 2030.
To offset this, the RED revision proposes to introduce an obligation on transport fuel suppliers to provide an increasing share of renewable and low-carbon fuels, including advanced biofuels, non-biological renewable fuels (such as hydrogen), waste-based fuels and renewable electricity. The proposed level of this obligation is to progressively increase from 1.5% in 2021 (in energy terms) to 6.8% in 2030, including at least 3.6% of advanced biofuels. In order to give preference to their deployment, the contribution of fuels supplied in the aviation and maritime sectors are to be considered 1.2 times their energy content.
Further stipulations are that from 2021 advanced biofuels should emit at least 70% fewer GHG emissions than fossil fuel alternatives and a new sustainability criterion on forest biomass used for biofuel production be introduced. The proposals also include the setting up of national databases to ensure traceability of biofuels and mitigate the risk of fraud.
As it has no technological option but to continue with liquid fuels for the time being, unlike road transport, there is a strong case for sustainable fuel policies to prioritise air transport so as to boost supply and reduce costs, said IATA in a response to the Commission’s plans.
“Sustainable fuels are an essential element of our carbon-cutting strategy, with the prospect of an 80% decrease in carbon compared to traditional jet fuel. Policies to incentivise the production of such fuels have been successful in the United States and elsewhere. Europe has an opportunity to take the lead in sustainable fuel production if the revised RED contains the right measures,” said Michael Gill, IATA’s Director, Aviation Environment.
“Airlines are absolutely committed to the highest sustainability standards for alternative fuels, to ensure no interference with biodiversity, food production or clean water resources. We are ready and willing to invest in these fuels and the revision of the RED offers a unique opportunity for Europe to demonstrate what can be achieved when policy-makers and industry combine for a genuinely coordinated approach to climate action and business innovation.”
The RED proposals were also welcomed by the Leaders of Sustainable Biofuels (LSB), a group formed in 2012 of companies, including British Airways, committed to developing and investing in advanced biofuels.
“We believe that by recognising the role of advanced biofuels as a fast track option for the decarbonisation of the EU transport sector, the European Commission has made a significant step to enhance the EU innovation capacity and stimulate green growth,” it said in a statement.
“LSB particularly welcomes the establishment of a binding target for advanced biofuels, which is indispensable for creating a stable and predictable business environment and trigger new substantial investments in advanced biofuels production capacity. In this context the Commission proposal sets the right direction and framework for the advanced biofuels industry to move forward and fully unleash the potential of advanced biofuels in Europe.”
Finland-based Neste, which has already produced sustainable aviation biofuels for the sector, said in a press release that from its perspective, the Commission’s proposal would secure the necessary predictability for producers to continue long-term planning of their operations and investments.
“What Neste considers a particularly good thing is that for the first time, the blending mandate regarding biofuels could also be met with renewable solutions used within the aviation and marine sectors,” said the company. “Neste already has full capability to support sustainable and carbon-neutral growth within these industries with our renewable fuel solutions.”
Added Kaisa Hietala, EVP of Neste’s Renewable Products business area: “As a whole, the Commission’s proposal consists of good propositions that support biofuels use and development in Europe. Neste wants to continue the discussions on enabling the industry to use as wide a raw material portfolio as possible. This is likely to be brought up in further work on the proposal.”
The proposed revisions to RED require approval by the European Parliament and the Council, which represents Member States, and is unlikely to be adopted before 2018.
Earlier this week, the UK government also announced proposals to incentivise the use of sustainable aviation fuels through its Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (see article).
European Commission – Clean Energy package
European Commission – Revised RED proposal
Major boost for UK biojet as government proposes to extend renewable transport fuel incentives to aviation
Wed 30 Nov 2016 – The UK aviation industry has welcomed a proposal by the government to extend one of its main policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport to include aviation, which could provide a major boost for future production of renewable aviation fuels in the country. Under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), tradable certificates (RTFCs) are awarded to suppliers of sustainable biofuel and have so far only applied to road transport. The RTFO requires that a certain percentage of road transport fuel is renewable and provides a valuable incentive for the biofuels industry which contributes towards meeting this obligation. However, in a consultation launched yesterday, the government says it is not proposing to provide a similar mandate for the supply of renewable aviation fuels given the market is still in its infancy. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic both have ambitions to open up local production of sustainable aviation fuels.
In its consultation document on a future strategy for UK low-carbon transport fuels, the Department for Transport (DfT) said the government wishes to promote the development of sustainable renewable fuel for aviation.
“As we transition to electric cars, we will continue to need low carbon liquid and gaseous fuels for decades to come, particularly to decarbonise transport sectors that are not as easy to electrify, such as planes and lorries,” says transport minister John Hayes in the foreword to the consultation.
The DfT says in terms of carbon reductions, biofuels delivered under the RTFO are the equivalent of taking over a million cars off UK roads each year. Under the proposal, renewable aviation fuels would be eligible for rewards in line with liquid road fuels, therefore 1 RTFC per litre, with double rewards for biofuels made from wastes and residues, as these advanced fuels are considered to be potentially more sustainable than crop-based fuels. All renewable aviation fuel will be required to meet sustainability criteria stipulated under the RTFO in order to be eligible for rewards.
The change of heart by the government to extend the RTFO to include renewable aviation fuels – which includes avgas used in light aircraft as well as aviation turbine fuel (avtur) for jet and turboprop aircraft – comes after a long campaign by the UK aviation industry.
“This is a welcome step-forward and could mean a more sustainable future for aviation in the UK and beyond,” commented Ian Jopson, Chair of the UK aviation industry group Sustainable Aviation. “We believe that producers of sustainable aviation fuel should be able to benefit from the new policy framework by allowing them to ‘opt-in’ to the system to receive credits. It is an exciting prospect and could lead to the UK taking a leading role in the production of sustainable jet fuel. We need to ensure that the new regulations do support innovation and attract investment in the UK.”
In a sustainable fuels roadmap published two years ago, research by Sustainable Aviation suggested UK policy support could lead to the creation of up to 12 operational sustainable jet fuel plants by 2030, creating up to 4,400 jobs and be worth up to £300 million ($375m) to the UK economy. It forecasts by 2050, such fuels could be expected to reduce UK aviation emissions by up to 24% and help deliver on the industry target of a 50% reduction in emissions over 2005 levels.
Last week, Willie Walsh, the CEO of British Airways parent International Airlines Group, said its project with Solena Fuels to build a plant in East London to produce renewable jet fuel from municipal solid waste had partly failed because of a lack of government support (see article). Anticipating the policy change, he said the airline was in discussions with other biofuel producers and a new project would be announced during 2017.
Commenting on the DfT proposal, Walsh said: “We welcome this consultation, which is long overdue. Road vehicles have been receiving financial incentives to develop alternative fuels for years whereas airlines – who currently depend on carbon-based fuels – receive nothing. Developing innovative solutions is crucial for the airline industry so it can grow sustainably. This will help the UK aviation industry to meet its committed carbon reduction targets and will also attract investment to build a jet biofuel plant, creating jobs and growth for the UK.”
Under the RTFO, converting municipal waste to biofuels could be eligible for double RTFC rewards, as could the technology being developed by the Virgin Atlantic partnership with LanzaTech to produce sustainable jet fuel from industrial waste gases.
The consultation closes on 22 January 2017.
British Airways in talks with potential partners as it plans to re-launch sustainable jet fuels project
Fri 25 Nov 2016 – British Airways is making significant progress in finding a company to partner with on a new initiative to produce sustainable jet fuel for the airline, says Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of parent International Airlines Group. Blamed on a steep fall in the oil price and lack of government support, plans were shelved exactly a year ago to build a facility in a partnership with Solena Fuels on the site of a former oil refinery by the Thames estuary east of London. Walsh told the annual UK Airport Operators Association conference this week that an announcement was imminent on a new project. He also welcomed the ICAO global agreement to manage damaging CO2 emissions from the aviation sector, in contrast to fellow Irish airline chief Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, who described climate change as “completely bogus”.
The BA/Solena Green Sky project involved converting municipal solid waste (MSW) to renewable jet fuel and other by-products, with the airline pledging to use the fuel under a long-term offtake agreement at London City Airport. When it was first announced in 2010, the facility was expected to be up and running by 2014, producing around 16 million gallons of jet biofuel annually through the conversion of 500,000 tonnes of locally-sourced MSW when fully operational.
The pioneering MSW-to-biojet project did though attract the interest of other airlines. In 2014, Cathay Pacific made an equity investment and offtake agreement with US biofuel company Fulcrum BioEnergy, which uses its own patented gasification process to convert MSW to jet fuel. United Airlines followed in 2015 with a similar agreement with Fulcrum and earlier this month, BP announced it too would make an equity investment in the company and purchase sustainable aviation fuel over 10 years for use at key airline hubs in the United States. Fulcrum has already started construction of its first commercial-scale plant in Nevada, with plans for further facilities.
Airlines are loath to pay a hefty premium for regular supplies of sustainable jet fuel but Fulcrum claims its fuel will be cost competitive with conventional jet kerosene. Alternative jet fuel producers in the US enjoy a level of government support that has not been forthcoming in the UK and so are better placed to attract the large long-term investment required to start commercial-scale operations. Fulcrum has also already built a demonstration facility to prove its technology works, which Solena had failed to do.
Walsh said the unsuccessful project with Solena Fuels, which has since gone out of business, suffered from an inability to attract the required level of investment, which he blamed on the UK government’s Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) policy of incentivising the production of sustainable fuels for road transport but not air transport. “I think they have acknowledged this was a mistake,” he told the conference.
Despite the Green Sky setback, Walsh said he was confident there were other biofuel companies with the right technology in place.
“It is challenging – we knew it would be – but we are prepared to put our money where our mouth is to make this venture a commercial success,” he promised. “We have identified a number of potential partners and are making significant progress. It will be next year but we are very close to making an announcement and by this time next year you will a significant development.”
Walsh, the current Chairman of IATA’s Board of Governors, has long been a strong advocate for the airline sector to act on its carbon emissions and welcomed the progress at the ICAO Assembly last month on a market-based measure. He considered the common position of the industry had played an important role in ICAO reaching its decision.
“I am not someone who questions climate change,” he told the AOA conference, responding to earlier remarks by Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary. “I fully accept that CO2 has had a damaging impact and going forward we need to manage our CO2 emissions. I am pleased we have been able to demonstrate a commitment that we can do that.
“It’s not without a significant challenge and it’s not going to be easy to do from a technology point of view. Therefore, we have to accept that there is a price to pay through some form of offsetting under a global scheme.”
O’Leary said the climate had always changed. “I’m not a scientist but what I do know for certain is that taxing carbon isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference either to climate change or global warming,” he said. “My response to the politicians and the bleeding-heart environmentalists is that we need to continue to develop economic growth. We have high youth unemployment in Europe and tourism is one of those industries that can create entry-level jobs for young people.”
By operating one of the industry’s newest fleet of aircraft, soon to be joined by the more fuel efficient new Boeing 737 MAX, he said Ryanair customers were already flying on Europe’s “greenest, cleanest” airline.
“If you are concerned about the environment, you are doing your bit by flying on Ryanair and shouldn’t feel in any way guilty about it,” he said. “As an industry, oil is our single largest cost and there is no one more committed to reducing fuel consumption than me.
“We are not going to pander to the environmental nimbys by having voluntary contributions or such like. I am not an apologist for the environmental or global warming mob. Whenever I hear about climate change, I tune out.”