GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 19 JULY 2018
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UK government announces major funding for green aerospace R&D and backing for sustainable aviation fuels
Wed 18 July 2018 – Following recent grants awarded to two projects developing potential commercial-scale sustainable aviation fuel production, the UK government has pledged £343 million ($448m) public and industry investment for R&D into cleaner and quieter civil aircraft. The government says a principle aim is for the UK to be at the forefront of the revolution in electric and hybrid planes, with £255 million going towards 18 new research and technology projects. A major beneficiary will be the E-Fan X project under development by Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens. Meanwhile, delegates from government, aerospace, fuel specialists, airlines and academia took part in a conference in Birmingham last week to seek out collaborative opportunities for a future UK sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry.
“The UK’s world-leading aerospace sector will be propelled into a new era of cleaner, greener flight through industry and government investment,” said the government’s Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, announcing the investment at the beginning of this week’s Farnborough Airshow.
As well as the £255 million for the 18 research projects, which will be supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute and UK Research and Innovation, £68 million of the funding will go to increasing R&D opportunities for small and medium-sized companies and £20 million to drive improvements in long-term productivity across the aerospace sector.
Against a Brexit backdrop of uncertainty over Airbus parts manufacturing in the UK, the government says the new projects will “position the UK as a world leader for some of the most technologically advanced aircraft that will transform the face of aviation, including electric aircraft, hybrid-electric propulsion systems and future materials for aircraft manufacturing.”
In addition to the funding for the E-Fan X, which is currently developing a flying electrical demonstrator, Rolls-Royce will receive support for four projects including the next-generation UltraFan aircraft engine and ACCEL, which is aiming to accelerate the adoption of electrical technology in aviation through the design, build and flight test of a high-performance electric powertrain. Other beneficiaries include Bombardier, GKN and the National Composite Centre for the development of new aerostructure components and materials, and a future landing gear project by Airbus. Three research projects at the Welding Institute and the universities of Oxford and Sheffield will also receive funding.
“The development of quicker, quieter and cleaner aircraft will transform the UK’s transport market and open up new and more sustainable ways for passengers to travel between our cities and regions, and across the globe,” commented Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister.
The ‘Sustainable Aviation Fuel for Clean Growth’ event in Birmingham was organised by the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Special Interest Group (SAF SIG) – an initiative launched last year by the government’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) – and the cross-industry group Sustainable Aviation. According to Michelle Carter, KTN’s Aerospace and Aviation Manager, there are now 140 organisations in the SAF SIG network and four new collaborations have already been established. The aim of the event was to bring together researchers, fuel businesses and the aviation industry to better understand the requirements for SAF and make new connections.
Rachel Solomon Williams, Head of Low Carbon Fuels at the UK Department for Transport (DfT), said binding targets for the use of advanced fuels were in place for road transport but as of April, aviation fuel suppliers can now opt in to the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.
“This is a very important change and one that reflects the direction biofuel production and use has to be heading,” she told delegates. “We are focused on incentivising aviation fuels that are produced from waste materials or residues and we have set a sub-target. These fuels can be double-counted so they are eligible for double rewards under the scheme.
“We must decide what we really want to use advanced biofuels for in the future and the probable answer is for those sectors like aviation and road freight transport that can’t easily decarbonise by other ways. We’re not sure how the two sectors can decarbonise quickly enough in the absence of low carbon fuels.”
As a result, the DfT has set up the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition (F4C) with funding on offer up to £22 million for aviation and road freight advanced low carbon fuel projects in the UK. Seven projects have received Stage 1 grants for development funding, including the Velocys/British Airways municipal waste to jet fuel and the LanzaTech/Virgin Atlantic waste industrial gases to jet fuel projects. A smaller number of projects will receive Stage 2 grants early next year, sharing up to £20 million in matched capital funding to take them to the construction phase.
The DfT is expecting up to five plants to be producing fuel for the aviation and/or road freight markets by 2021.
“One of the criteria for a successful grant under F4C might be how likely it is a plant can get constructed in that time,” said Solomon Williams. “If everyone that comes to us and says it’s unfeasible then we can have a conversation about it but at the moment, that’s the target.”
Robert Boyd, IATA’s sustainable aviation fuel expert, told the conference that government policy was key.
“The reason most projects don’t accelerate faster is because of the commercial risk, so policies are required to reduce that risk,” he said. “If there is no level playing field and policies favour ground transport then that’s where the investment goes as it’s more economic to produce. There is also limited experience for equity investors and debt providers to understand the business case risk.”
He said the speed of change towards the production and use of SAF will be a function of research, infrastructure and policy. There was a need for the rapid construction or refurbishment of production facilities that would require an investment of around $100 billion a year on global infrastructure to supply the volumes required to meet the industry’s carbon reduction target for 2050.
“This sounds like a big number but it’s a perfectly reasonable figure if you look at what is spent on infrastructure in the traditional energy sector,” he said.
IATA estimates UK jet fuel demand from airports for domestic and international flights will rise from 16.15 billion litres in 2018 to 24.75 billion litres in 2030, which, said Boyd, could generate around $1.3 billion in profits for energy suppliers.
“This SAF SIG multi-stakeholder collaboration is already a very effective network and momentum is developing in the UK from which a lot of opportunities can come,” he added.
The event saw the launch of a new UK SAF Landscape Map, a resource that so far lists 52 companies in the field, 20 academic capabilities and five funding sources. A publication called ‘Cleared for Offtake’ has also been released that has been prepared by KTN, Sustainable Aviation and Chris Lewis Fuels Consultancy to help prospective new entrants into the SAF field to understand the industry’s fuel and sustainability requirements.
A new generation of supersonic commercial aircraft could have high environmental consequences, says ICCT study
Tue 17 July 2018 – The last commercial supersonic flight took place 15 years ago with the final grounding of the Anglo-French Concorde due to poor economics, unviable fuel efficiency and noise bans. However, the revival of passenger supersonic transport aircraft (SST) may be just seven years away as three US start-up companies develop a new generation of civil aircraft to fill a void in a market they believe still exists. Aerion and Spike, aimed at business jet operators, and Boom, with a commercial airliner capable of carrying up to 55 passengers, have the backing of a number of major aerospace manufacturers. Boom claims to have options from five airlines, including Japan Airlines and Virgin. Although the three say they can overcome the fuel and noise drawbacks of Concorde, a new paper by ICCT expects them to exceed existing international standards on aircraft pollution, noise and CO2 emissions.
International standards for subsonic aircraft are set by ICAO and the UN agency’s environmental committee CAEP has been developing a standard for future supersonic aircraft for some time now. Discussions centre on sonic boom measurement and establishing technical flight test procedures for supersonic noise certification. These would be in addition to the certification requirements for the subsonic local airport conditions and applicable maximum noise levels. ICAO says progress has been made and anticipates certification of a supersonic aeroplane could occur in the 2020-2025 timeframe.
However, others see a clash between the United States and major European countries over SST noise standards holding back the process. An early setback in the 1970s for the Concorde was a decision to prohibit supersonic commercial aircraft from flying over the US because of the sonic boom it created when travelling faster than the speed of sound and the public nuisance it was said to cause. In a reversal, it is the FAA that is now pushing for a new supersonic international standard that is not considered stringent enough by Europe. Although an internationally-agreed standard is the preferred route, the FAA told Reuters that if there is a delay in adoption then it would establish its own regulations for domestic certification.
With experts gathered from NASA and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space project, Boom says advances in aerodynamics, engine technology and lightweight composite materials will allow its SST to cruise at speeds up to Mach 2.2 (1,451mph) – compared to Concorde’s Mach 2.04 – and “at least 30 times quieter” than Concorde. Spike claims to have developed a patent-pending ‘Quiet Supersonic Flight Technology’ that will stop a sonic boom reaching the ground.
An analysis by the US-based International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), however, suggests these near-term commercial SSTs are unlikely to meet existing ICAO efficiency and pollution standards set for subsonic commercial air fleet unless newly designed, ‘clean-sheet’ engines were used. If based on an existing derivative engine, estimates ICCT, a SST could exceed nitrogen oxides (NOx) and CO2 limits by 40% and 70% respectively. ICCT modelling showed it burned five to seven times as much fuel per passenger as comparable subsonic aircraft. In a best-case scenario, it burned three times as much fuel per business-class passenger relative to subsonic aircraft; in the worst case, it burned nine times as much fuel relative to an economy-class passenger.
The modelled supersonic aircraft also exceeded allowable landing and take-off (LTO) NOx limits for subsonic aircraft by 38% in the most likely configuration and CO2 metric value limits by 52% to 115%, with a most likely exceedance of 67%. A best case advanced clean-sheet engine was estimated to comply with the latest subsonic NOx standards. A qualitative noise analysis by ICCT suggests that near-term SST designs are unlikely to meet ICAO’s 2018 LTO subsonic noise standard.
Because little information has been disclosed from the three SST companies about the environmental performance of their designs, ICCT says it has relied on publicly available data, expert engineering judgement and an open-source conceptual aircraft design tool for what it describes as a preliminary analysis. Other environmental factors such as sonic boom, particulate matter and stratospheric water vapour have not been addressed in this study.
The work, it says, is meant to inform policymakers’ thinking about future standards for new supersonic designs until such time that more detailed data is made available.
A question for policymakers, therefore, is whether they should apply existing subsonic environmental standards to SSTs or adopt new standards specifically for SSTs based upon the performance of poorer performing derivative engines that would allow for increased air pollution, noise and CO2 emissions relative to new commercial aircraft.
“There are reasons to be worried about the environmental impact of reintroducing supersonic aircraft,” said Daniel Rutherford, co-author of the study and Aviation Program Director at ICCT. “A modest first step is for manufacturers to commit to meeting existing standards for new aircraft.”
ICCT – ‘Environmental Performance of Emerging Supersonic Transport Aircraft’ , Boom , Aerion , Spike Aerospace , FAA – Supersonic Flight Fact Sheet , New York Times op-ed – ‘Reviving Supersonic Jets Will Damage the Climate’ , Wired – ‘A new era of supersonic flight is almost here’ , Supersonic Myths – ‘It’s Time to End the Ban on Supersonic’
SAS pledges to use renewable jet fuels on all domestic flights by 2030 and partners with Swedish oil refiner Preem
Fri 13 July 2018 – Scandinavian airline SAS has signed a letter of intent with Sweden’s largest fuel company Preem to produce renewable aviation fuels using forestry residues and other waste materials. SAS has set a target to replace all its jet fuel used on domestic flights with biofuel by 2030. With refineries in Gothenburg and Lysekil, Preem refines and sells petroleum products to companies and consumers in Sweden and abroad, and is one of the country’s biggest exporters. SAS says it has adopted a strategy to reduce its emissions and climate impact on a long-term basis and if the collaboration with Preem progresses then the two partners expect to agree a long-term jet biofuel supply contract. SAS has also announced that backdated to April 1, it will compensate CO2 emissions generated by customers flying on its Youth Tickets.
The combined capacity of Preem’s two refineries is 18 million tonnes of refined products, equivalent to around 125 million barrels per year. The Gothenburg refinery also refines renewable raw materials into diesel with a high proportion of renewable content, and the company reports it is planning a capacity expansion, with a goal to produce three million cubic metres of biofuels by 2030. A preliminary start-up of production is expected in 2022, with a total biofuel capacity of one million cubic metres, with a proportion of that dedicated to jet biofuel.
“Preem’s vision is to be a leader in the transition to a sustainable society and we are actively working to develop production of Swedish biofuels,” said Sören Eriksson, Development Engineer at Preem Petroleum. “We are looking forward to developing our cooperation with SAS and expanding our production to include large-scale biojet.”
The two parties expect to reach a binding and more detailed cooperation agreement by this coming September.
“SAS’s sustainability and restructuring work is about investing in more environmentally efficient aircraft, flying in an environmentally friendly manner and using fuel based on renewable sources,” said Lars Andersen Resare, the airline’s Head of Environment and CSR. “This statement of intent is an important part of our work towards more sustainable flights in the long-term.”
SAS reports that it has already purchased around 100 tonnes of biofuel and says it will continue to actively promote commercialisation.
The airline is also transitioning its fleet to the new fuel-efficient Airbus A320neo. “They consume on average 18% less fuel per passenger compared to the previous A320 model,” said Resare. “Since 2005, the enterprise has reduced its CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre by 22%.”
Regarding the new CO2 compensation initiative on Youth Tickets, which are available to travellers aged between 12 and 26, Resare said: “Many of our passengers, especially young travellers, make active choices to promote sustainable development. The possibility to compensate for the CO2 emissions of your flight has been available to all our travellers for several years, but from April 1, SAS has decided to do so voluntarily for all SAS Youth Tickets.”
The emissions calculation is based on travel statistics and emissions data, says the airline, which estimates that as a result, around SEK 15 million ($1.7m) will be invested in renewable energy projects supported by its offset partner Natural Capital Partners.
“The use of innovative solutions and new technology is, and always has been, the top priority for us on our journey towards the next generation of travelling,” said Resare.
SAS – ‘Renewable energy in the wings’
Eurocontrol report highlights action needed by aviation industry to deal with impacts of climate change
Tue 10 July 2018 – Climate change will damage aviation infrastructure, alter patterns of passenger demand and lead to more operational disruption, yet only half of industry organisations have begun to plan for this, says a Eurocontrol report looking at challenges facing commercial aviation in Europe between now and 2040. Under a ‘most likely’ scenario, the number of flights within Europe could grow at a rate of 1.9% per year to reach 16.2 million flights a year by 2040, or 53% higher than today. However, Europe is already struggling to cope with existing levels of traffic and a lack of airport capacity will lead to even higher delays and 1.5 million unaccommodated flights per year by 2040. As well as a capacity challenge, a future climate with changes to temperatures, rainfall, wind and storm patterns, and the sea level requires industry to move faster with adaptation, says the intergovernmental air traffic management body.
Eurocontrol’s latest ‘European Aviation in 2040 – Challenges of Growth’ report is aimed at providing decision-makers with information and forecasts to support long-term planning and managing risk. It uses four scenarios to model future patterns, with the ‘most likely’ scenario, labelled Regulation and Growth, seeing moderate growth regulated to reconcile demand with environmental sustainability issues.
The previous report, published in 2013, included a study of climate change risk and resilience. It considered the results of a stakeholder consultation and survey to determine to what extent the aviation industry considered adaptations are necessary to address the risks of climate change, and what actions are being implemented or planned. It also reviewed climate change risks out to 2050, by which time the impacts are expected to be widely felt, and identifies several key actions the industry could take to reduce those risks.
For the 2018 report, the survey was re-run and with more than 90 replies, a much larger response was received. A clear majority of respondents – 57% against 52% in 2013 – believe their businesses will be affected by climate change, with around a quarter indicating they are already being affected. Although 86% considered adaptation actions to reduce the impacts of climate change may be necessary now or in the future, only 52% said they had begun planning.
“Respondents gave reasons for not taking action that included lack of information and lack of resources, but this delay in taking action is a clear risk for the future,” says the report.
“A theme of Challenges of Growth is sounding an early warning, leading to actions that are taken in good time. We need to do more here to understand the gap between need and real planning for action: what are the reasons for this gap. Are they valid? If not, what can be done to encourage investments that take climate change into account?”
Eurocontrol says that later in 2018 it intends publishing a separate report on environmental issues that will provide a forecast of CO2 emissions and how aviation is reducing its impact; and how prepared European aviation is to adapt to climate change.
The 2018 Challenges of Growth report suggest that after cutting back between 2008 and 2013, European airports are expanding their capacity plans again, with 111 airports planning a 16% increase in capacity between them and 4 million more runway movements. This growth is concentrated on the top 20 airports, which are planning growth of 28% and an additional 2.4 million flights.
The 53% growth forecast to 2040 is actually rather slower growth than before 2008. Eurocontrol anticipates a slow-down from 2035 as markets mature, economic growth decelerates and as airport capacity limits across Europe become an increasing issue. Airport capacity constraints could mean current average summer flight delays of 12 minutes jumping to 20 minutes per flight in 2040, and the number of flights delayed by one to two hours increasing by a factor of seven.
China refutes reports it has withdrawn from the voluntary phases of CORSIA although its concerns remain
Sat 7 July 2018 – Reports that China has withdrawn from the voluntary pilot and first phases of CORSIA, the global carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation, are inaccurate, a representative of China’s delegation to ICAO has told GreenAir. He said China had yet to make a decision on whether to join CORSIA from the beginning and had been surprised that ICAO had continued to list it on the ICAO CORSIA website as an early participant without consultation. With the recent adoption by the ICAO Council of the CORSIA SARPs, China noted action had now been taken by ICAO to correct the listing. However, said the representative, China has concerns over the direction of CORSIA discussions and reserved its right under the Chicago Convention to take further action, including filing a difference to the SARPs.
The A39-3 resolution agreed at ICAO’s 39th Assembly in October 2016 requires the Secretariat to publish on the ICAO website updated information of the States that volunteered to participate in the pilot phase (2021-2023) and first phase (2024-2026) of the CORSIA scheme. ICAO had included China on the basis of a joint statement by the presidents of China and the United States in September 2016 at a G20 summit in China that said both countries would support the Assembly to reach a consensus on a global market-based measure to address carbon emissions from international aviation and “expect to be early participants in such measure”.
The Chinese delegation representative said by email: “In 2016, China made a lot of effort and compromise in reaching agreement together with other stakeholders on CORSIA during the 39th Assembly. However, China has not made a decision yet whether to join the CORSIA pilot phase or first phase. China has requested the correction of the inaccurate information on the ICAO CORSIA website for a long time and it is only recently action was undertaken accordingly, which coincided with the adoption of the SARPs as Annex 16 Volume IV of the Chicago Convention.”
The A39-3 resolution (para 9f) says that States are “strongly encouraged to voluntarily participate in the scheme as early as possible” but have up until June 30 of the preceding year to notify ICAO of their intention to join. This would suggest China has until June 2020 to make its decision on whether to enter the initial pilot phase, although from 1 January 2019 the SARPs require monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) compliance from all airlines conducting international flights with total annual CO2 emissions over 10,000 tonnes, regardless of whether or not the registry State has joined.
Following the adoption by the Council on June 27 of the CORSIA Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) – the MRV rulebook for the scheme – the Secretariat has revamped its CORSIA website, and the list of countries participating from the outset has been moved to a new page. The removal of China from the list, leaving 72 States, has resulted in the coverage of CORSIA in terms of international air traffic activity being reduced from around 88% to 75.95%.
China has indicated opposition on a number of occasions to CORSIA’s central objective of carbon neutral growth from 2020. In a reservation filed during the 2016 Assembly, it said the goal was “short of scientific justification, fairness and feasibility.” It argued developed countries had reached peak emissions from their international aviation activity and should take the lead in significant emissions reduction, whereas developing countries should have “adequate space” to develop and grow their activity. The CNG2020 objective constituted “de facto prejudices” against developing countries in their future growth of international air transport, China’s reservation statement added.
The statement also took issue with ICAO’s intention to develop compulsory standards and principles for emission units to be used under CORSIA, for which China said ICAO had no mandate.
“Moreover, the practice of artificially restricting the range of emission units available for international aviation is most likely to push up the cost of emissions reduction and provoke unfair competition in the international aviation industry,” it said. “In addition, the Council has yet to finalise the process of elaboration and approval of the emission unit criteria. It is therefore irrational and unfeasible to require States to commit their compliance before they have reviewed the criteria finally approved.”
The Chinese delegation representative said in its response to the ICAO consultation on the SARPs earlier this year that China had provided specific comments on emission units, sustainable aviation fuel and other elements of the CORSIA Package.
“China has been pursuing the green development of civil aviation and has made significant contributions to promoting the building of a fair, reasonable and feasible scheme to address emissions for international aviation,” said the response. “The development and contents of the draft SARPs, as well as its implementation documents for CORSIA, should be open and transparent, and fully reflect the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity and respective capabilities, which are commonly recognised by the international community for global climate governance in light of different national circumstances.
“CORSIA SARPs and its implementation shall not unjustifiably interfere with Sovereignty States’, particularly developing countries’, policy on climate governance and energy, and should not lead to excessive burden on developing countries.”
The representative said in answer to questions as to whether China would file a difference against the SARPs and whether it would permit its airlines to start monitoring their CO2 emissions from 1 January 2019 that it could not officially comment until it had received the ICAO State Letter on the SARPs.
However, he added: “At this stage, I can say the concerns of China were not addressed during the CORSIA SARPs discussion and adoption in the Council. China reserves the right under the Chicago Convention to take further action, including filing a difference to the SARPs. China draws the attention of all stakeholders to the legal advice of the ICAO Legal Bureau on CORSIA SARPs, implementation elements and supporting documents.
“China will continue its green and low carbon civil aviation strategy and will make every effort, including taking market-based measures, to promote the sustainable development of civil aviation. China is willing to cooperate with other stakeholders on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”
A spokesman for ICAO said the 72 States, representing nearly 76% of international aviation activity, that were voluntarily participating in CORSIA from its 2021 pilot phase still represented a significant majority of current international flight emissions.
“As things proceed, ICAO will continue to deliver and coordinate CORSIA capacity building to ensure that all States and territories who want to participate are fully prepared to do so,” he told GreenAir.
Meanwhile, the aviation industry continues to urge States to join CORSIA from the beginning.
“CORSIA is the first system to tackle emissions from any single sector on a global basis. The more States that take part, the more effective it will be in limiting CO2 emissions growth from international aviation,” said Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-sector Air Transport Action Group.
“With those States that have declared their intention to be part of the voluntary phases, over 75% of international aviation’s CO2 emissions growth will be offset after 2020. We expect this will increase with other States wishing to show climate and aviation leadership. And we stand ready to help any State prepare for implementation. This is alongside significant capacity building for the industry.”
Gatwick and Lyon airports step up energy initiatives to maintain carbon neutral certification
Fri 6 July 2018 – Following its recent certification renewal as a carbon-neutral airport under the industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme, London’s Gatwick Airport has signed a new three-year deal with Haven Power to continue supplies of 100% renewable electricity. This follows a previous five-year agreement that is credited as a major factor in achieving the carbon-neutral status for the UK’s second-largest airport. With electricity accounting for 75% of the ground operations carbon footprint, Gatwick says it is on course for reaching its renewable energy target of 25% by 2020. Meanwhile, the stabilising of its electricity consumption in spite of a 40% increase in the number of passengers has helped enable Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport to renew its carbon-neutral status under the programme.
Gatwick was the first UK airport to join RE100, a global collaborative initiative of businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity.
“The use of renewable energy by UK businesses is increasing as companies become more ambitious in terms of reducing their carbon footprint, but also because of the potential cost benefits of using renewables and embracing energy-efficiency programmes,” said Paul Sheffield, COO of Haven Power, one of the UK’s largest business electricity suppliers. “This is a positive step in the right direction and we hope to see more of the industry follow Gatwick’s lead.”
Haven Power says the use of renewable electricity will save approximately 39,000 tonnes of CO2 per year over conventional power and calculates it is the equivalent over the course of the agreement of saving enough carbon to fill Wembley Stadium five times over.
“Gatwick was among the first airports in the world to go for 100% certified renewable electricity,” said the airport’s Sustainability Manager, Rachel Thompson. “That’s credit to our Engineering (Utilities) and Procurement departments for having the vision to choose renewable electricity and to Haven Power, for being able to provide it.”
Lyon-Saint Exupéry’s new 70,000-square-metre Terminal 1 has been awarded certification by the French Haute Qualité Environnementale (HQE), a sustainability standard for building construction and management.
Operator Aéroports de Lyon says it is training other companies at the airport in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of the carbon neutrality requirements of the ACA certification.
The airport has achieved an annual average 9% decrease of CO2 emissions in the period from 2012 to 2016, equivalent to 6,879 tonnes of CO2. To reach carbon neutrality, the airport has offset emissions over and above its benchmark through the support of projects implemented by GERES, which also help improve the living conditions of local populations. The projects include bioclimatic solutions for housing in Afghanistan and the deployment of improved cooking stoves in Cambodia.
VINCI Airports, which manages Aéroports de Lyon, initiated an environmental policy programme in 2016 called AirPact. Initiatives underway include the reintegration of the ISO 14001 standard in 2019; obtaining ACA level 1 for Lyon-Bron Airport from 2020 and maintaining the top ACA level 3+ carbon neutrality status for Lyon-Saint Exupéry; a 20% reduction in energy intensity between 2013 and 2020 by committing to the ISO 50001 (Energy Management System) approach; and formalisation of a biodiversity strategy.
Tanguy Bertolus, Chairman of the management board of Aéroports de Lyon, noted Lyon-Saint Exupéry was one of just 33 out of 133 European airports in the ACA programme to have achieved the maximum level of the ACA programme.
VINCI has 33 airports around the world participating in the ACA programme, with Lyon-Saint Exupéry the first to achieve level 3+. The group has just installed new photovoltaic parks at its airports in the Dominican Republic.
“At VINCI Airports we are convinced that climate change is one of the major challenges we must face,” said Joffrey Maï, Environment Manager for VINCI Facilities, in an interview. “Getting all our airports on board with the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme is a testament to this voluntary commitment. To be clear, we do not adhere to this programme to meet regulatory requirements, but by conviction and bottom-up commitment.”
LanzaTech bags second advanced jet fuel grant from UK government for a first commercial-scale ATJ facility
Wed 4 July 2018 – Alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel technology company LanzaTech has secured a £410,000 ($540,000) grant from the UK Department for Transport (DfT) to help with project development funding for building the world’s first large-scale ATJ facility producing commercial quantities of low carbon jet fuel in the UK. The grant from the DfT’s Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition (F4C) is for a similar amount awarded to the Velocys/British Airways municipal solid waste (MSW) to jet fuel project that was announced recently (see article). With its airline partner Virgin Atlantic and others, LanzaTech is planning a 40-50 million litres per year plant that would convert ethanol produced from waste industrial gases into jet fuel. Earlier this year, ethanol was added to ASTM’s specification for ATJ synthetic paraffinic kerosene.
“This waste to jet fuel project has the potential to help transform the aviation industry by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the air quality around our country’s airports,” said the government’s Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling. “That is why we are providing support to this important technology as part of our £22 million ($29m) funding for alternative fuels, which will pave the way for clean growth in the UK. Supporting important developments like this is just part of our work to help ensure our aviation sector is greener than ever, and we will explore further measures as part of our Aviation Strategy.”
LanzaTech’s partners in the project cover various links in the supply chain such as the aviation sector, steel mill ethanol supply, technical, sustainability and site. As well as Virgin Atlantic, partners include Boeing, SkyNRG, Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, ArcelorMittal, Air BP, World Fuel Services, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Ecofys, RSB, Cerulogy, Tata Steel UK and Greenenergy.
“The British government understands the importance of using waste feedstocks for flight to help decarbonise the aviation sector,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “We are delighted to be part of this vision and together with our partners are looking forward to realising a commercial ATJ facility in the UK.”
According to LanzaTech’s Chief Sustainability Officer Freya Burton, the grant will be used towards a feasibility study for the project that will look at identifying possible sites around the UK for the facility. She said an application for important stage two funding would be made later this year, with announcements expected in January 2019.
In a joint venture with leading iron and steel producer Shougang, LanzaTech already has a demonstration plant at a steel mill in Hebei Province, China, capable of producing 46,000 tons (16 million gallons) of ethanol per year. Last month, in a partnership with global steel company ArcelorMittal, ground was broken on a new installation in Ghent, Belgium, that will convert blast furnace carbon emissions into bioethanol. First production is expected by mid-2020 with a potential capacity of 80 million litres per year.
Despite the funding award by the Department for Transport (DfT), jet fuels converted from ethanol that has been produced from industrial waste gases are currently outside the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) qualification. The government scheme provides a valuable incentive for suppliers of renewable transport fuels. Jet fuels produced from municipal solid waste, such as the Velocys/British Airways venture, were added to the RTFO last September (see article).
“We have been working very closely with the DfT on how our fuel might be included in the future,” Burton told GreenAir. “The DfT has been watching very closely the outcome of the discussions on the EU’s post-2020 Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) as there is a provision in the draft to include what is termed recycled carbon fuels. As we understand it, the UK is likely to mirror the directive post-Brexit.”
LanzaTech’s optimism is boosted by a report carried out by E4tech for the DfT that was published in January. The ‘Low Carbon Fossil Fuels Sustainability Risks and Accounting Methodology’ report, which also looked at MSW fuels, concluded fuels produced from waste industrial gases, which would always have alternatively been combusted, “are highly likely to reduce GHG emissions compared to fossil petrol or diesel.”
Said Burton: “Our last exchanges with the DfT were very positive, as is the F4C award. Although we are not yet included in the RTFO, these are steps in the right direction.”
LanzaTech and Virgin Atlantic are preparing for a first commercial flight using the fuel, although no date has been disclosed. A batch has already been produced from ethanol manufactured at the China facility and converted into jet fuel by the US Department of Energy’s PNNL.
“As LanzaTech’s long-time partner, we’re excited to be able to support building commercial capacity in the UK, and look forward to our future flights being powered by this advanced, waste-based solution,” said Craig Kreeger, CEO of Virgin Atlantic.
ICAO reaches key stage in CORSIA implementation with adoption of SARPs but fears remain over sustainability criteria
Thu 28 June 2018 – ICAO’s governing 36-State Council has adopted standards and rules for the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) that come into effect from next year. The scheme, which aims to cap net emissions from 2020, starts with a pilot phase in 2021 but airlines and other aircraft operators with annual CO2 emissions above 10,000 tonnes will have to measure and report their emissions from 1 January 2019 so a baseline can be established. The aviation industry said the adoption was a key step in CORSIA implementation but added important decisions were still required on sustainability criteria for offsets and alternative fuels eligible under the scheme. In a last-minute controversial decision, the Council agreed to extend the definition of sustainable aviation fuels under CORSIA to include lower carbon fossil-based fuels.
ICAO Council President Dr Olumuwiya Benard Aliu said the agreement to adopt the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) as a new Volume IV to Annex 16 of the Chicago Convention, the treaty that underpins international civil aviation, had been critical for the timely introduction of CORSIA and the deadlines for airlines and States.
“This especially pertains to its monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) scheme, which describes in detail what has to be done, and by whom, starting with the collection of information on international aviation CO2 emissions by airlines as of January 2019,” he said.
Dr Aliu noted MRV provisions had already been tested before their adoption, with the support of the German government and participation of six additional States and 10 airlines.
Also approved at the Council meeting was ICAO’s CORSIA CO2 Estimation and Reporting Tool (CERT) for small aircraft operators to monitor and report their CO2 emissions, and an agreement was reached around the specifics for a CORSIA Central Registry (CCR).
“Significant effort was made at the global level to ensure that these CORSIA SARPs could be adopted within such a limited timeframe, and that States and airline operators would be prepared to use them,” said ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu. “ICAO will continue to actively assist our Member States in these and other CORSIA preparations, both directly and through capacity-building partnerships.”
ICAO stressed CORSIA was just one element in its basket of measures on climate action, which also includes enhancing air navigation efficiency, its adopted aircraft CO2 certification standard and the long-term use of sustainable aviation fuels. Said Dr Aliu: “Aviation has now set out not only its climate change goals but also the means to achieve them. The progress achieved today is a clear demonstration of the unwavering commitment, on behalf of both governments and airlines, to minimise the future impact of international aviation on the global climate.”
Congratulating the Council on the SARPs adoption, Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), commented: “This now allows governments and industry to make final preparations for implementation before the CO2 emissions monitoring and reporting obligations commence in January 2019. The Council is to be commended for their fast progress on this important technical work.”
While IATA and the International Business Aviation Council continued working together on holding workshops for airlines and operators, Gill said there was also an urgent need for capacity building to ensure governments were ready to provide oversight on CORSIA compliance. “We call on the ICAO Secretariat to redouble its ongoing capacity building efforts for the Member States and encourage fast progress in this area.”
The adoption was also welcomed in a joint statement by the European Transport and Climate Commissioners, Violeta Bulc and Arias Cañete.
“It is an important step forward showing the shared commitment to implement CORSIA agreed in 2016 and to address aviation emissions,” they said. “Without any action, CO2 emissions from aviation are set to grow by up to 300% by 2050. Action by the aviation sector to reduce its carbon footprint is also a first step to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement and keep global warming well below 2 degrees C.
“The EU and its Member States played a central role in securing this deal. This is another concrete illustration of European unity and of the global leadership of Europe in the fight against climate change. The EU will continue to push for robust and effective rules. Participation and implementation by all states around the world will be fundamental for the system to deliver on its objectives.”
To assist developing States with their MRV implementing measures, the EU is providing capacity building help to nations in Africa, the Caribbean Islands and ASEAN Member States.
Although ICAO described the Council adoption of the MRV rules as a “landmark decision”, tough challenges still lie ahead with the focus now on the remaining elements of the CORSIA implementation package, namely the evaluation of carbon market programmes against a set of criteria, the determination of its eligible emissions units (carbon offsets) and which aviation fuels will meet the scheme’s sustainability criteria.
ATAG’s Michael Gill said ICAO must quickly turn to these decisions, which are set to take effect in 2021. “Whilst we are very happy with the significant progress that has been made at ICAO so far, there are still a number of decisions and steps that must be taken. The establishment of the Technical Advisory Board to determine the types of offsets that can be used to comply with CORSIA must be given high priority. We would also like to see the Council agree to the full set of sustainability criteria for new aviation fuels.”
Annie Petsonk, International Counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), said: “The adoption of the SARPs marks a significant step forward by ICAO in standing up CORSIA. But much work remains to be done before the end of the year to ensure that CORSIA as implemented actually delivers the anticipated environmental benefits. There are potential devils lurking in the details and the work needs to be completed with close coordination between government representatives in the UNFCCC and ICAO to ensure consistency between the two international agreements and prevent double-dipping with regard to carbon offsets and alternative fuel credits.
“ICAO must take unprecedented steps to establish technical advisory bodies that have broad participation, are free of conflicts of interest and operate transparently to ensure that proposed fuels and offsets actually meet the integrity criteria.”
In a controversial move, and following pressure from countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Council agreed to widen the definition of sustainable aviation fuels by allowing fossil-based – or conventional – fuels to be recognised under CORSIA if they meet a set of criteria that include a 10% or greater reduction in life-cycle CO2 emissions. These would be called ‘lower carbon conventional fuels’. Under CORSIA, fuels meeting ICAO’s sustainability criteria will reduce offsetting requirements by an amount corresponding to their life-cycle CO2 emissions reduction.
Responding to the decision, Gill commented: “The industry remains committed to the development of sustainable aviation fuel. It is conceivable that conventional fuels could be delivered with reduced CO2 life-cycle emissions, but we are firmly of the view that our long-term needs for sustainable fuels will have to be met through non-fossil sources and these should be the focus of research, development and funding.”
Petsonk said the last-minute inclusion of fossil fuels into the sustainable aviation fuels definition was “potentially troubling”, adding: “This change could present a serious stumbling block for CORSIA’s overall credibility, as it remains doubtful whether such fuels could meet the stringent criteria that the public will expect from this system.”
More reaction from industry, NGOs and carbon markets:
Airlines for Europe (A4E)
“We have worked closely with our industry partners for many years to advocate for this global landmark deal – and we applaud the efforts of Commissioners Bulc and Cañete in making it happen,” said A4E Managing Director, Thomas Reynaert. “We reiterate, however, our expectation that CORSIA shall be the only measure applicable to carbon emissions from flights within the EEA as of 2021. Any measures at the national and EU levels, such as the aviation EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), would place an unfair double burden on European airlines and put them at a competitive disadvantage in the global market.”
The statement added: “In the context of this agreement, A4E continues to advocate for the development of robust sustainability criteria for alternative fuels and policy initiatives enabling a more widespread usage of biofuels. In addition, it is calling on the ICAO Council to make swift progress on the Emissions Unit Criteria for eligible carbon credits.”
Airlines International Representation in Europe (AIRE)
“The endorsement by ICAO of the key parameters of CORSIA is a very important step towards the final adoption of the scheme,” said a statement from AIRE, which has 16 holiday and scheduled airline members.
Added AIRE Director General Sylviane Lust: “Our members also acknowledge the instrumental role played by the European Union and its Member States in securing the deal and urge that all European Institutions agree, without delay, to implement CORSIA as a unique global scheme replacing the regional aviation EU ETS in order to ensure a global level playing field for a global industry.”
Carbon Market Watch (CMW)
With the SARPs being just one element of the CORSIA Package, the detailed requirements for offsets and sustainable alternative fuels, considered by ICAO as essential for the implementation of CORSIA, have been left for approval at the next Council Session, pointed out CMW.
“The draft rules as they stand provide a good basis to avoid past mistakes of offsetting systems, where the majority of credits have made little-to-no impact in curtailing pollution levels,” said Transport Policy Officer Kelsey Perlman. “A delay of this decision could be dangerous if it means watering down these rules to allow substandard offset projects into the scheme.”
CMW said a main point of Council contention is the process to determine eligible offsets, with China and Brazil reiterating their positions to disregard a centralised approvals process and to provide automatic eligibility of credits from the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism respectively.
“If airlines were allowed to buy offsets from climate projects undertaken years ago, no new carbon reductions would be achieved to compensate aviation’s growing pollution. This underlines the need for date limiting eligible offsets under CORSIA to prevent the threat of worthless credits flooding the market,” said Perlman.
Transport & Environment (T&E)
The Brussels-based group welcomed the Council agreement on the MRV provisions of CORSIA but was highly critical of the late decision to recognise under the scheme ‘lower carbon conventional fuels’. The redefinition is yet another downgrading of the scheme’s environmental integrity, it said.
“CORSIA looks more and more like an awful deal for the climate,” commented Andrew Murphy, Aviation Manager at T&E. “The EU has tried long and hard to get a better agreement but in the end airlines, supported by Saudi Arabia and Trump’s America, have got what they want. The attempt to greenwash oil is just the latest example of this.”
T&E believes further weakening is possible in October as the Council has yet to decide on offset eligibility rules, having already sent back sustainable aviation fuel rules on land rights, food security, labour rights and biodiversity.
“Next year, the European Commission will present a plan to decarbonise Europe by 2050. That strategy can’t be credible without a plan to decarbonise the fastest growing climate problem,” said Murphy. “With the ICAO process racing for rock bottom, it is now clear we’ll need the EU to take matters into its own hands and introduce measures to end aviation’s tax-free status, drive the uptake of genuinely low-carbon fuels and technologies, and begin to tackle the non-CO2 greenhouse gas effects of flying.”
International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)
“IETA broadly welcomes the timely adoption of the SARPs. Entities can now get going with the critical element of developing the sectoral baseline for calculating emissions going forward,” said Sophy Greenhalgh, IETA Director.
“We are now awaiting news on the set-up of the process and governance for approving offset programmes and what further limitations and restrictions will apply with regards to vintage timeframes and project types. Significant work in a short timeframe is now required to develop further details around emission unit eligibility, to give the carbon market and investors time to ensure a highly environmentally robust supply pipeline is available for CORSIA.”
IETA called for carbon market experts to add their input before those decisions are taken.
“We welcome further opportunities for consultations on programme design details,” said Greenhalgh. “We urge that ICAO makes clear how it intends to intensify its process so that it can progress work before the Council meeting in November on emissions unit criteria and other operational elements of CORSIA. It is essential to establish the quality specifications and approval processes as soon as possible for the market to deliver offsets that meet CORSIA’s environmental objectives.”