Norwegian airport operator Avinor to invest up to $16.5 million to support national aviation biofuel production
Dag Falk-Petersen, CEO of Avinor
Mon 24 Mar 2014 – Norway’s state-owned airport operator and air navigation services provider Avinor has pledged to contribute up to 100 million Norwegian kroner ($16.5 million) over a ten-year period to help develop an aviation biofuel sector in the country. Announcing the move at an Avinor conference, ‘Fly with Norwegian biofuel in 2020’, the organisation’s CEO said the advent of new and more energy-efficient aircraft would not be enough as the industry works towards carbon-neutral growth, and biofuels would have to be a key part of the solution. Petter Heyerdahl, Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), told the conference that biomass for producing biofuels should be reserved for the transport sector, in particular aviation, where there are few alternative options to fossil fuels.
Dag Falk-Petersen, CEO of Avinor, which operates 46 airports in the country, including Oslo, stressed aviation played a crucial role in an increasingly global industry and in regional development and tourism in Norway.
“Avinor will be a driving force, and over a ten-year period we are prepared to contribute up to 100 million kroner to various projects and reports that can help to realise biofuel production for Norwegian aviation,” he told the conference. “This is a matter of both social responsibility and benefit to society.”
Torbjørn Lothe, Director General of the Federation of Norwegian Aviation Industries (NHO Luftfart), believed aviation no longer had the same legitimacy in the eyes of the population that it had enjoyed some decades ago.
“One can discuss how fair it is that aviation is picked on as an environmental sinner, but we have to show that aviation is forward looking through what we do,” he said, adding the industry supported the ‘polluter must pay’ principle.
However, he was unhappy with what he saw as a high level of domestic charges that distorted competition, and said society was best served by industry having the latitude to implement effective measures to reduce its impact. “To operate more energy efficiently is in any event a goal for an industry where fuel represents 30-40% of the operating costs for airlines,” he said.
Over 1,500 biofuel flights conducted so far had shown there was no need for technical adjustments to aircraft, he said, adding: “Norwegian airlines will buy biofuels when they are available in the required quantities and at a competitive price.”
NMBU’s Petter Heyerdahl argued there was not enough biomass in the world to replace fossil fuels and even if it was all used to produce biofuel, it would only cover half of current fuel consumption. “Such a degree of utilisation is completely unrealistic,” he said. “That’s why we must reserve biomass for transport purposes.”
A year ago, Avinor published a report on a study it commissioned from consultancy Ramboll on the potential for a sustainable aviation biofuels sector in Norway.
The aviation fuel arm of Norwegian oil producer Statoil recently announced a partnership agreement with SkyNRG to develop an aviation biofuel supply chain in the Nordic region (see article).