GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 13 NOVEMBER 2017
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Eight airlines join ‘Fly Green Day’ to use Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel on flights out of Chicago
Fri 10 Nov 2017 – Eight airlines have flown from Chicago O’Hare International Airport using a jet fuel blend containing Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) renewable fuel derived from bio-isobutanol. Blended and supplied by Air BP, the fuel was made available using the airport’s existing fuelling infrastructure, such as pipelines, terminals and tankage. This was the first time blended fuel had been supplied to airline customers through the main fuel hydrant system. The airlines – Lufthansa, United Airlines, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Atlas Air – were participating in Fly Green Day, an event to help boost the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuels, sponsored by the O’Hare Fuel Committee and organised by Gevo.
“This is a significant milestone as we continue to develop our ATJ platform,” said Gevo CEO Dr Patrick Gruber. “We fundamentally believe that our ATJ is one of the most cost-competitive bio-based jet alternatives in the market place. Leveraging existing supply infrastructure should lower the full cost to serve our end customers. Jet fuel is one of Gevo’s core market segments and this represents the next step in building a profitable business from this market vertical.”
Gevo’s ATJ renewable fuel, which can be produced from a variety of carbohydrate feedstocks, was approved for commercial aviation use in April 2016 and was first used by launch customer Alaska Airlines. The isobutanol is produced at its Luverne fermentation facility in Minnesota and converted into jet fuel at a biorefinery in Silsbee, Texas. Test flights using the fuel have been carried out in the past by the US Air Force, Army and Navy.
Involved in the process throughout, Air BP worked with Gevo to bring to the airport a demonstration batch of biojet produced from bio-isobutanol and purchased by the airline customers. The aviation fuel company blended the biofuel with regular Jet A fuel and certified its quality.
“This is the first time we have supplied our customers with biojet produced from alcohol and demonstrates how we are working with multiple suppliers to build a leadership position in this area,” said Jon Platt, CEO of Air BP. “We anticipate that through this promotion we will inspire more of our customers to use lower carbon fuels.”
In January 2016, Air BP introduced biojet via the existing fuelling infrastructure at Oslo Airport in Norway and has since supplied Bergen Airport in the country and Halmstad Airport in Sweden. A year ago, Air BP announced a $30 million investment in aviation biofuel producer Fulcrum BioEnergy, with the aim of distributing and supplying biojet into aircraft at key hubs across North America.
Meanwhile, IATA’s annual Alternative Fuel Symposium takes place next week in Vancouver. It will cover outcomes from ICAO’s recent Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels, deployment solutions, 2020 production potential, global and regional initiatives, and airline strategy and demand trends including sustainable aviation fuel eligibility in the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme.
Rocky Mountain Institute signs partnership deal with The Good Traveler carbon offsetting programme
Fri 10 Nov 2017 – The Good Traveler carbon offsetting programme is to be administered by the global non-profit Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) under a multi-year partnership. The programme is a non-profit collaboration among US airports and transportation authorities that includes San Diego International Airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, the Port of Seattle and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. RMI will join their Advisory Member Group to help shape future strategy of the programme, with an objective to grow the market for high-quality carbon reduction options and to cultivate new travel-based emissions-reduction projects.
The Good Traveler programme was launched in September 2015 by San Diego International, which issued a Request for Proposals earlier this year from parties interested in operating the programme and supplying carbon offsets (see article).
“The programme is an important part of our efforts to address the impact of carbon emissions on climate change,” said the airport’s CEO, Kim Becker. “We are proud to see it grow and expand to other airports across the country.”
Under the programme, 100% of funds are directed to reducing the carbon impact of the aviation sector and airport communities. Offsets are verified and retired through the Climate Action Reserve, Verified Carbon Standard, the Gold Standard or American Carbon Registry.
The programme’s portfolio currently supports regional climate mitigation projects in the US that includes the Arcata Community Forest in Northern California, the Big Smile Wind Farm at Dempsey Ridge and Water Restoration Certificates by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
“The Good Traveler is a great way to help our travellers reduce their footprint, ensuring carbon offsets are verifiable, traceable and invested in projects that benefit our economy,” said Christine Weydig, Director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ’s Office of Environmental and Energy Programs.
RMI says it plans to incorporate in-sector travel emissions-reduction projects over time, such as projects involving sustainable aviation fuels.
Founded in 1982, RMI’s mission is to “transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure low-carbon future and to engage with others to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables.” In 2014, the Carbon War Room initiative started by Virgin’s Richard Branson was merged with and now operates as part of RMI.
“We’re thrilled to join these airport leaders advancing sustainable travel and we are committed to ensuring The Good Traveler drives carbon reduction innovation,” said Adam Klauber, Director of RMI’s Sustainable Aviation programme, commenting on the new partnership. “We look forward to expanding its customer base and to integrating in-sector offset projects. This will be a game-changer for decarbonising the fast-growing aviation industry.”
Added Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman: “Visitors and citizens of the Seattle region care deeply about the environment and we are responding with our own commitment to reduce the Port’s carbon emissions by 50%. The Good Traveler is a perfect complement to these programmes. Passengers can be personally involved in reducing their carbon footprint through an easy-to-use, intuitive offsetting programme designed specifically for air travellers.”
Travellers can purchase credits from The Good Traveler website or retail outlets and works on a simple basis of a payment of $2 for every 1,000 miles flown. As of July 2017, the programme is reported to have offset nearly 20 million air miles equivalent to 3,352 tonnes of CO2.
The airport partners say the programme is also working towards more efficiently investing airport revenue into offsetting carbon emissions from ground operations through the industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.
KLM signs agreement with Costa Rica to explore potential for sustainable biofuel flights from San Jose
Tue 7 Nov 2017 – KLM has entered into a cooperation agreement with the government of Costa Rica to research the possibility of flights out of the capital San Jose using sustainable aviation fuel. The Dutch carrier said it was the first time such an agreement had been made by an airline with a government. The two parties signed a letter of intent last week that will see KLM share its knowledge and expertise with the government in close cooperation with partner SkyNRG. The move coincided with the KLM launch after a 20-year break of a direct twice-weekly return service between San Jose and Amsterdam that will be operated by a Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner.
“This cooperative effort is a new step in making civil aviation more sustainable,” said KLM COO René de Groot. “The greater the production – and therefore the greater supply of biofuels – the lower the price will be and the more businesses will use it. KLM and Costa Rica are taking the lead now. It would be great if other airlines, governments and the entire biofuel supply chain took such steps.”
In 2009, KLM became the first airline in the world to operate a flight using sustainable biofuel, which it followed with its first commercial flight in 2010. Since then, the carrier has operated more than a thousand flights using bio-based jet fuel. From October 2016, it started using sustainable biofuel derived from recycled cooking oil that is produced by AltAir and delivered by SkyNRG on all flights from Los Angeles for a period of three years. The Los Angeles biofuel is delivered directly to the storage tanks at the airport, which also hold the conventional jet kerosene supply. Oslo Airport was the first airport to supply a percentage of sustainable fuel through its regular fuelling process, with KLM purchasing biofuel there for a series of 80 flights.
KLM operates a Corporate BioFuel Programme through which a variety of companies contribute to stimulate the use of sustainable biofuel and help bridge the cost gap with conventional fuel. However, says KLM, the market for sustainable biofuel remains far from mature and the price is three times higher than that of fossil fuel.
Except for El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala, Costa Rica is the only country in Latin America to volunteer so far to join the ICAO CORSIA global carbon offsetting scheme from the start.
IAG achieves highest rating in 2017 CDP climate list of global company performance
Mon 6 Nov 2017 – International Airlines Group (IAG) has achieved a coveted ‘A List’ status in this year’s CDP ratings of leading environmental performances by the world’s leading organisations. Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, the global disclosure system enables companies to measure and manage their environmental impact and the data is used by investors and purchasers, as well as policy-makers. The Climate A List was established in 2011 and introduced for water and forests in 2015 and 2015 respectively, with IAG one of 112 companies worldwide making the 2017 climate change A List, the only representative from the aviation sector. It was also awarded ‘most improved’ UK organisation in 2017. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Willie Walsh said last week IAG would take an equity investment in its new sustainable aviation fuels venture with Velocys.
The A List achievement is down to a number of measures IAG says it has taken in a commitment to make it the world’s leading environmentally sustainable airline group.
“This is great news and a recognition of our efforts to lead the industry in tackling climate change,” said Walsh, responding to the CDP top listing. “IAG was the first airline group worldwide to set its own carbon emissions targets and we’re very proud of our role in securing the first global carbon offsetting scheme.
“We’re investing in modern and more efficient aircraft and have created innovative operational procedures to reduce CO2 output. Developing sustainable fuel is also crucial and we’re working to convert domestic waste into jet fuel, which is an amazing innovation to cut emissions while reducing landfill.”
The group, which currently comprises British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, says it has integrated climate change targets into its business strategy and improved its reporting on how environmental risks are mitigated and the opportunities to enhance its airlines’ performance.
Speaking at last week’s UK Airport Operators Association annual conference, Walsh said IAG’s venture with waste-to-fuel technology company Velocys could see first supplies of renewable fuel by 2021. “The focus just now is on producing the fuel for British Airways but in time it could be for other members of the group,” he told delegates.
British Airways was involved in a previous project called GreenSky to build a biorefinery in east London with Solena but pulled the plug two years ago (see article), citing poor economics and a lack of government support. The UK government has now signalled its intention to incentivise renewable aviation fuels through its Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation scheme and is providing funding towards projects to produce renewable aviation fuel (see article). It is also backing an initiative to create a sustainable aviation fuels group called SAF SIG to build a UK industry supply chain (see article).
“The technology exists but the challenge has been to create a commercial model that works and now we have that with the government’s recent support,” explained Walsh.
“We are prepared to invest – we are very clear about that. We see this both in terms of equity and also taking the supply of fuel. It will be a multi-million pound investment although we’ve not put a limit on it at this stage but initially it will be in the tens of millions rather than hundreds.”
He said IAG was committed to using alternative fuels produced from waste. “There are a lot of environmental concerns over the use of crops and competition with food supply to make biofuels, which in our view is not sustainable. The good news is that there is pretty much no limit to the amount of waste in the UK at the moment that can be used. It doesn’t have to be new waste either – it could be waste from old landfill. There is a lot of potential.”