British Airways pledges 10-year offtake agreement as GreenSky project with Solena gathers momentum
Artist's impression of proposed Solena facility
Fri 30 Nov 2012 – The British Airways and Solena GreenSky London project to build a sustainable jet biofuel facility in East London is gaining momentum, say the two partners. They won’t reveal the location but an exclusive option on a site for the facility and consent work has begun, with the aim of having it operational and in production by 2015. The airline has now confirmed its commitment to purchasing, at “market competitive” prices, the anticipated 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel produced annually by the plant for the next 10 years, which equates to around $500 million at today’s price for conventional jet kerosene. Barclays has been appointed as advisor to explore the optimal funding through export credit agencies and the consortium providing the facility’s key technology functions has also been announced. British Airways expects enough sustainable fuel be produced to power two per cent of its fleet departing from London Airports.
“We are delighted that the GreenSky London project is getting ever closer to fruition,” said Keith Williams, the Chief Executive of British Airways, which is aiming to reduce its net carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. “With world-class technology partners now in place, we are well on our way to making sustainable aviation fuel a reality by 2015.”
Around 500,000 tonnes of municipal waste normally sent to landfills will be converted annually into 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel, bionaphtha and renewable power at the facility as well as the 16 million gallons of jet fuel. Solena Fuels Corporation will provide the proprietary high-temperature gasification process that converts the waste into synthetic gas and the overall Integrated Biomass Gasification to Liquids (IBGTL) solution.
The Fischer-Tropsch reactors and catalyst that will convert the cleaned synthetic gas into liquid hydrocarbons, such as diesel and jet fuel, will be supplied by Oxford Catalysts. Marketed under the brand name Velocys, the company says its systems are significantly smaller than those using conventional technology, enabling modular plants that can be deployed more cost-effectively in remote locations and on smaller scales than is possible with competing systems. Fluor Corporation, which has extensive international experience in project execution and biofuel projects, is providing engineering services to support Solena and has started the pre-front end engineering and design for the project.
On the financing, a Competitive Letter of Interest has been obtained from one of the export credit agencies, including associated term funding. More than 150 jobs are expected to be created to operate the facility, with 1,000 workers involved during the construction.
An independent life-cycle assessment by UK-based North Energy Associates of the Solena jet biofuel showed that greenhouse gas savings exceeded both the 60% requirement of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the 50% minimum of the methodology established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB).
“Our GreenSky London project will provide clean, sustainable fuels at market competitive prices that will help address British Airways’ sustainability goals,” said Dr Robert Do, CEO of Solena. “The British Airways offtake agreement represents the largest advanced biofuel commitment ever made by an airline and clearly demonstrates the airline’s leadership and vision in achieving its carbon emission reduction targets.”