Tue 11 Dec 2018 – Shell, World Energy and SkyNRG have joined forces to supply three European airlines – KLM, SAS and Finnair – with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at San Francisco Airport (SFO). The fuel, to be produced from used cooking oil, will be sourced by SkyNRG from World Energy’s Paramount refinery in Los Angeles. The initial phase of the initiative aims to pave the way for longer term, more resilient SAF supply chains at the airport, say the partners. In May, Shell and SkyNRG announced a long-term collaboration to promote and develop the use of SAF in aviation supply chains. A MoU was then signed in September by SFO and a group of eight airlines and fuel producers to expand the use of SAF at the airport. Finnair’s involvement is as a result of starting to offer its customers from early 2019 the opportunity to offset their CO2 flight emissions by supporting the use of SAF or by funding emissions reduction projects or carbon sinks.
The September memorandum of understanding (MoU) involved United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific, who collectively represent nearly 70% of all flights at SFO. The four fuel producers include the airport’s two primary suppliers, Chevron and Shell, along with Neste and LanzaTech. Airlines currently use over 1 billion gallons of jet fuel annually at SFO and if half of this was made up of SAF, emissions could be reduced by up to 4.8 million tonnes per year, estimates the airport.
SFO is working on a study to identify the necessary supply chain and infrastructure required to make this a reality and is now preparing an implementation plan. In October, the California Air Resources Board approved changes to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) that now require a 20% reduction in carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by 2030, the most stringent in the United States. The ruling also allowed the opt-in inclusion of SAF in the standard, which would make the state the first sub-national government to offer such a benefit to SAF.
The LCFS programme is implemented using a system of tradeable credits, each equivalent to one tonne of carbon. They are generated by producers of cleaner fuels and can be sold to producers whose products will not meet the declining benchmark for carbon intensity. Under the new ruling, renewable aviation fuels may now generate LCFS credits and the producers of those fuels will be permitted to voluntarily opt-in to the programme.
“With our focus on achieving zero net energy, carbon neutrality and zero waste, we are setting bold goals for our airport and our industry,” said SFO Airport Director Ivar Satero.
Added Theye Veen, Executive Director of SkyNRG: “The industry needs collective efforts to scale the development of sustainable aviation fuels. This joint initiative at SFO is a perfect example that would not have been possible without our long-standing supply partner World Energy. In our collaboration with Shell Aviation we aim to lead the way towards making the aviation industry more sustainable and we strive to get more industry players on board.”
Finnair’s participation in the venture and its new partnership with SkyNRG stems from a survey the airline carried out this past summer seeking passenger opinions on what the airline should be doing about its carbon emissions (see article).
“Biofuels and carbon sinks were the preferred means for reducing CO2 emissions,” said Kati Ihamäki, Director, Corporate Sustainability at Finnair. “Therefore, it was a logical choice for us to start looking into how we could offer these options for our customers.”
Biofuel use has a potential to reduce emissions by 60-80% compared to conventional jet fuel but its price is currently three to five times higher, points out the airline. Flights flown by Finnair with biofuel will be determined by the uptake of its customers, it says, who from early 2019 will be offered the choice through its website of offsetting their emissions through either biofuels or emissions reduction projects.
Regarding the latter option, Finnair is partnering with the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), an international financial institution backed by the Nordic states. Its customers will be able to offset their flight emissions through a cookstove project identified by NEFCO in Mozambique.
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