Unique partnership between airport, airlines and fuel suppliers sees Oslo become first hub for biofuel flights
Thu 20 Nov 2014 – Oslo is to become the first airport to supply regular commercial deliveries of blended sustainable aviation biofuel to airlines. From March 2015, the SkyNRG partnership with Statoil Aviation will provide 2.5 million litres of biofuel annually to the airport under a unique agreement with the airport’s operator, Avinor. SAS, KLM and the Lufthansa Group of carriers serving Oslo are the first to participate in the initiative, which is open to all airlines. The amount of biofuel corresponds to using it in a 50% blend with conventional fuel on around 3,000 flights between Oslo and Bergen, although Lufthansa and its subsidiary airlines plan to use their purchased allocation in a 5% blend on over 5,000 flights from Oslo over the course of 12 months. In another industry first, the biofuel blend will be supplied directly to aircraft through the airport’s fuel hydrant system.
All the partners in the initiative, including Avinor, are subsidising the price premium between the biofuel and conventional jet kerosene. “The total amount of fuel is not yet sold, though. So we really hope that more airlines will sign up over the coming months,” an Avinor official told GreenAir. Earlier this year, the state-owned airport operator announced it would contribute up to 100 million Norwegian kroner ($16.5m) over a 10-year period to support the development of an aviation biofuel sector in the country.
To help bridge the premium gap and get a permanent stream of aviation biofuels into the regional mix, the SkyNRG Nordic partners have recently set up a Fly Green Fund in which corporations aiming to reduce their business travel carbon footprint make a contribution towards the cost of flying with biofuels rather than to carbon offset schemes.
Initial biofuel deliveries are likely to be sourced from used cooking oil but power and forestry sectors in Norway are exploring the possibility of producing sustainable aviation biofuels from forestry residues within a few years, reports Avinor. “It’s not out of the question that we in Norway could achieve large-scale production at a competitive price by 2020,” said CEO Dag Falk-Petersen.
Two initiatives in the country are currently examining the possibility of commercial production of both biodiesel and jet biofuel. A single biofuel plant could produce enough jet biofuel to reduce carbon emissions from Norwegian aviation by 10-15%, estimates Avinor.
The development of a sustainable aviation biofuels sector in the country is being supported by Norwegian environmental foundation ZERO. “The fact that Avinor is contributing to making Oslo Airport the first hub in the world where all airlines have the opportunity to use biofuel illustrates that a green change is possible,” said its head, Marius Holm. “At the same time, it’s important the authorities step up with policy instruments that promote the greater use of biofuel in aviation.”
SAS announced it aims to use synthetic fuels on an increasingly regular basis in the next few years and expects the price to start competing with the fossil fuel alternative. “For this to happen, a general environment and tax policy will be required from governments, based on aviation being a form of internationally competitive public transport with thin profit margins,” said the airline.
Last week, SAS undertook a commercial flight between Trondheim and Oslo powered by a biofuel blend supplied by SkyNRG Nordic (see story).
Commenting on the Oslo agreement, SAS Group CEO Rickard Gustafson said: “For the past 10 years or more, SAS has been striving to accelerate the commercialisation of renewable fuel, so this is an important step in moving towards sustainable aviation.”