Virgin Australia and Brisbane Airport complete biojet trial using general fuel supply system
Wed 12 Sept 2018 – A trial has ended at Brisbane Airport to supply aircraft with blended sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) through the airport’s general fuel supply system. Partners in the initiative included US-based renewable jet fuel producer Gevo and the Queensland government, with Virgin Australia leading the procurement and blending of the fuel. The biojet was used to fuel 195 domestic and international flights departing Brisbane that travelled more than 430,000 kilometres between them. The airline said it hoped to fuel more flights from Brisbane with biojet over the next 12-18 months. Gevo’s alcohol-to-jet fuel was shipped from its plant in Texas, having been derived from isobutanol produced in Minnesota. However, the Queensland government is supporting moves to commercialise local production of SAF in the state.
“We recognise there is a great opportunity to develop a thriving sustainable fuels industry, which will help to reduce emissions and drive investment and jobs growth in Australia,” said Virgin Australia Airlines Group Executive Rob Sharp. “The successful completion of the trial at Brisbane is the first important step in ensuring Australian airports and the fuel supply chain will be ready for the regular supply of sustainable fuels in Australia.”
Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff said the initiative was aligned with the airport’s strategy to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, and was committed to putting in place programmes to manage and minimise the long-term impacts of climate change. Brisbane joins a select few major airports such as Oslo and Los Angeles that have supplied blended biojet through its fuel supply system.
Other supply chain partners in the trial included DB Schenker and Caltex. “As Australia’s largest supplier of transport fuels, we support the investigation of alternative fuels such as biojet as part of the future fuel options for the country, and we acknowledge Virgin Australia’s leadership in achieving this important milestone,” said Louise Warner, Executive General Manager, Fuels & Infrastructure, Caltex.
Added Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk, who had visited the Fulcrum BioEnergy waste-to-jet fuels plant in Nevada in June on a trade visit to the United States: “This is another step forward in a homegrown biofuels industry – one that my government is supporting. Our own biofuel producers have a ready customer in Virgin Australia and I look forward to their cooperation growing.”
Virgin Australia had previously partnered with Air New Zealand in a project in 2016 to find companies worldwide that could supply the two carriers with long-term supplies of biojet but eventually they went their separate ways. Air New Zealand has since said it would not pursue biofuels until prices had become competitive with conventional jet fuel.
In October, Qantas announced an offtake agreement with US bioenergy company SG Preston in which it would purchase 8 million gallons (30 million litres) of renewable jet fuel for a 10-year period. The Australian carrier said it would use the fuel on flights from Los Angeles starting in 2020.
Partners in the Brisbane Airport and Virgin Australia biojet trial with the Queensland Premier: