GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 14 DECEMBER 2018
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Munich Airport and Lufthansa open ‘Green Gate’ exhibition to promote their sustainability efforts
Fri 14 Dec 2018 – Munich Airport and Lufthansa have opened a ‘Green Gate’ exhibition in the airport’s Terminal 2 satellite. It shows passengers programmes and initiatives of the two companies to promote sustainable mobility. In the waiting area of Gate K21, the partners have created a ‘discovery zone’ centred around aspects of environmental and climate protection. Information panels with short texts, images, infographics, videos and interactive elements demonstrate measures already taken on environmental improvements as well as future strategies. The exhibition also highlights Lufthansa’s achievements in fuel efficiency through its modernised fleet, in particular the Airbus A350-900, which is operated on long-haul routes from the Munich hub.
“The airport and the airline complement one another and are working to capture synergy effects. This makes Munich Airport a leader in green aviation,” stated the airport’s CEO, Dr Michael Kerkloh, at the opening of the exhibition this week. “Here you can see one of the world’s most advanced long-haul jetliners parked at one of the world’s best terminals. That not only creates greater comfort for passengers, it benefits the environment too.”
Added Wilken Bormann, CEO of Lufthansa’s Munich hub: “The Airbus A350-900 achieves better fuel economy than any comparable aircraft, using an average of just 2.9 litres of fuel per 100 passenger kilometres. In addition, it significantly reduces the noise impact on residents in the surrounding area. The noise footprint of the A350 is 50% smaller than that of the A340.”
The Green Gate offers information on a range of topics related to sustainability in aviation. These include new approach procedures, supplying aircraft with pre-conditioned air, recycling of aircraft de-icing fluids, air quality monitoring and commitments by both partners to biodiversity and noise/sound protection. Visitors can hop onto an LED stepper to generate electric power through their own efforts and also use a CO2 calculator to measure their personal carbon footprint.
The airport says the satellite terminal, which opened in April 2016 and is a 60:40 joint venture with Lufthansa, itself sets new standards for energy efficiency with its sustainable design and state-of-the-art climate buffer.
Munich Airport – Sustainability , Lufthansa – Climate and Environment
Transition to electrical propulsion of aircraft required to hold down aviation’s share of global CO2 in 2050
Thu 13 Dec 2018 – A transition to electrical propulsion is required if aviation’s current share of global CO2 emissions, around 3%, is to remain the same by 2050, reports consultancy Roland Berger. Presenting its findings at the recent Royal Aeronautical Society’s annual Greener by Design conference, it estimated that if the sector was to continue to evolve at its current technological and fleet growth pace, aviation could account for as much as 24% of global CO2 emissions by mid-century as other industries rapidly decarbonise. At the conference, Airbus said the prospects for all-electric aircraft were very promising for shorter range aircraft but the challenge remained of how to power and reduce the environmental impact of the large aircraft sector. Jeff Engler of US start-up Wright Electric, which is being supported by low-cost airline easyJet in efforts to have an electric passenger aircraft in operation by 2030, said getting to commercialisation would require huge spending in research, as well as industry support and policy intervention.
Robert Thomson, an aerospace and aviation adviser and managing partner at Roland Berger, said there had been a great acceleration over the past two years in new programmes developing all-electric or hybrid-electric propulsion aircraft concepts. There were now around 130 projects worldwide, with the bulk focused on general aviation and urban air taxis, with around 12% of the total developing regional and large commercial aircraft concepts.
A survey Roland Berger carried out 12 months ago of aerospace and defence professionals found that most broadly agreed a hybrid-electric aircraft capable of carrying 50 passengers could be flying between London and Paris (around 200nm) by the early to mid 2030s. Opinions on when an all-electric passenger aircraft would come into commercial operation were more varied but the early 2040s was the more likely.
The consultancy modelled four scenarios to estimate the impact electric propulsion could have on aviation’s share of global CO2 emissions in 2050. Using historical trends and fleet forecasts, under its baseline scenario A, if the industry was to continue to evolve at its current pace – fleet growth of 4% per year, aircraft retirement age of 25 years, fuel burn reduction of 1% per year on new aircraft technology improvements (with a 15% cap) and no production of electric or hybrid regional or large commercial aircraft – it estimated aviation’s share could range from a low of 5% to as high as 24%, with a mean of 8%.
Scenario B assumes the baseline scenario plus an accelerated evolution of today’s technology, with annual fuel burn reduction rising to 2.5% from greater improvements in aircraft technologies, operations and ATC efficiencies (with a 42% cap). Aviation’s share of the total would then be estimated to range between 4% and 19%, with 6% the most likely. Scenario C assumes Scenario B but with production of hybrid-electric aircraft starting in 2035 and all-electric in 2040, predominantly on short-range routes. This would lead to a most likely share of 5%, with a range of 4% to 11%.
Scenario D assumes a regulatory-driven transition to electrical propulsion, akin to what is now happening in the automotive sector, with forced retirement of aircraft at around 10 years and replaced with electric or hybrid-electric aircraft from 2030 onwards. This would bring aviation’s global share in 2050 down to around 3%, in line with the sector’s share today.
This scenario estimates all-electric aircraft flying predominantly short-haul routes and forming around 45% of the global fleet by 2050, with about 25% of the fleet being hybrid-electric. The remaining 30% would consist of conventional gas turbine-powered aircraft, mostly wide-bodies for long-haul routes.
A caveat to the scenarios is that no assumption has been made for the emissions reduction benefits of using sustainable aviation fuels.
Although significant progress is being made to overcome the technological barriers to electrical propulsion, there are many other questions still to be answered, said Thomson, such as on regulatory policy, certification and airport infrastructure requirements. Airlines too would have to consider the cost of ownership and the willingness to take a new technology risk. Aerospace companies such as Airbus and Boeing face major decisions in their aircraft development strategies, and the balance between investment in conventional aircraft and hybrid-electric aircraft.
“If they go down the conventional route, do they spend billions of dollars developing all-new aircraft to replace the A320s and 737s due to enter service in the early 2030s and then run the risk of that aircraft being technically obsolete five or 10 years later?” he questioned.
Another big question he foresaw was who is going to control the development and certification of electrical propulsion systems – will it be the airframer, engine company or electrical systems company?
A further issue is that electrical propulsion will only be greener if the source of power generation was green as well. Taking Scenario D and assuming 24-hour constant charging for replacement batteries, Roland Berger’s modelling shows that the power demand for electric aircraft in the UK would be in the region of 3.5 gigawatts, with around a third needed at Heathrow. This is about 0.5% of the forecasted UK 2050 total generation capacity. If to be supplied by renewable energy, the estimated 1.3 gigawatts required by Heathrow is currently equivalent to solar arrays covering around 30 times the ground area of Heathrow or 2,000 90-metre tall wind turbines.
Colin Hodges, E-Fan X Systems Architect at Airbus, said the reality was that aviation fuel is “an incredible substance” with a very high energy density. “If we are able to concentrate the same level of energy density into a battery as we have in aviation fuel then it would be fantastic but we’re not there yet and it will take time,” he told delegates. “In terms of larger aircraft, we need to look at concepts such as hybrid-electric, which is what we have started doing with the E-Fan X demonstrator. This is an exponential leap that gives us a platform for learning and coming up with future concepts for new aircraft.”
Dr Rod Self, professor of aeroacoustics at Southampton University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, pointed out electric aircraft may not necessarily be quieter than the equivalent conventional aircraft. “This will come as a surprise to many people. Although electric cars may be quieter than a conventional car, with aircraft it’s not the case,” he said.
“You have to power an aircraft with a fan of some description and there is the airflow over the airframe, which are principal sources of noise. You get rid of the turbine noise but you introduce the electric motor noise, with energy density basically driving the noise. Novel designs introduce new noise sources. The aircraft would take off slower and take longer to climb, so staying over the population below for longer.
“How people respond to noise levels depends on a lot of factors – it’s not simply a case of how loud it is, which is what we tend to think. For example, distributed electrical propulsion with many rotors across the wing produces a multi-tonal noise signature. The smaller the airframe, the more the problem with tones.”
Dr Self said the most annoying noise for populations is a new noise and predicts there will future problems with drones potentially being used extensively for delivering packages and urban aircraft. “If you introduce them over people who haven’t experienced aircraft flying overhead before, this is going to have a major effect,” he said. “It’s not just the noise, it’s the level of intrusion as they will fly at lower altitudes so people will see them more. Getting public trust and understanding on urban aviation is going to be a major issue, which could have implications for electric passenger aircraft.
“I think hybrid-electric and electric aircraft are likely to show substantial noise benefits but the variations in the noise signature is going to require us to look at how we measure such noise around airports.”
Jeff Engler’s Wright Electric has teamed with UK low-cost carrier easyJet to develop an electric-propelled, 186-seat passenger aircraft by 2030 – a daunting prospect, he admitted. “It will require new advances in batteries as you can’t use today’s chemistries,” he said. “We are encouraged by progress in higher density batteries but we’re not relying on it, so for that reason we are looking at both all-electric and hybrid-electric systems.”
He said 20% of flights within Europe had a range of less than 350 miles. “Even if we can do the one-hour flights, say between London and Paris and London and Amsterdam, that’s still a start,” he said.
Engler reported that the company hope to have a 9-seater electric plane flying in 2019. He hadn’t previously seen the aircraft in commercial terms but said there had been outside interest in it. He cited a recent report that UK regional carrier Loganair plans to use an electric aircraft by 2021 for its island-hopping service off the north coast of Scotland, where one of its flights is just 1.7 miles.
He said the UK should follow the example of Norway’s ambition of having all short flights 100% electric by 2040.
“If the UK were to set stringent requirements, maybe the rest of the world would follow,” he suggested. “Getting to commercialisation is going to require enormous spending and research. It’s a question of taking the first small step today to push towards zero emissions aviation in the future and establishing momentum.”
Kalmar Airport, airlines businesses work towards future fossil-free flights to Stockholm
Tue 11 Dec 2018 – A unique airline/airport cooperation has been agreed that will see all domestic flights from Kalmar to Stockholm meet a 5% biofuel target in 2019. Under the agreement, airlines SAS and BRA will pay for 50% of the additional cost of the biofuel, while Kalmar Öland Airport will secure funding for the remaining half. The approximate 80 tonnes of biofuel required for the flight services will be supplied by fuel supplier Air BP. Together with its owner, the Kalmar Municipality, the airport says it has been working actively for many years to create the funding conditions for the additional cost premium of biofuel, with a long-term goal of having fossil-free aviation from Kalmar. BRA has been offering its passengers the option to pay an extra fee per flight to enable the regional carrier to fly on biofuel. SAS has pledged to use renewable fuel on all domestic flights by 2030.
The first biofuel flights between Kalmar, located in south-east Sweden, and Stockholm took place in 2017 during a local sustainability week. Since then the airport and the municipality have been establishing funding for aviation biofuels on a more permanent basis and together with a number of local companies, took the decision that all their own business travel on flights from Kalmar should be powered by biofuel.
The procurement of aviation biofuel, equivalent to three years’ supply, for the municipality took place this autumn. Coinciding with a large delivery of aviation biofuel, representatives from the various organisations met at the airport to discuss cooperation, challenges and the industry’s transition to sustainable fuels.
“The cooperation between these organisations is proof that with combined strength you can make things happen when you look at the bigger picture rather than just individual benefit,” said Ronny Lindberg, Managing Director of Kalmar Öland Airport, which handles around 250,000 passengers a year.
Added Anna Soltorp, Head of Sustainability at BRA: “For us, access to biofuel is essential to successfully achieve fossil-free domestic air travel in the future. We need large-scale, continuous production nearby in order to have access to sustainably-produced biofuel at reasonable pricing.”
BRA, formerly known as Braathens Regional Airways, undertook its first biofuel flight in February 2017 on a journey from Stockholm Bromma to Umeå in northern Sweden using a fuel sourced from used cooking oil and supplied by Air BP (see article).
“Air BP is delighted to be able to support our client airlines and airports to reduce the environmental impact of aviation,” said Thorbjörn Larsson, General Manager of Air BP Nordics. “This is an important first step that has been taken for all passengers between Kalmar and Stockholm to reduce their emissions.”
Fuel suppliers join forces to supply three European airlines with sustainable fuel at San Francisco
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.
Airlines having difficulty in raising carbon efficiency in line with growth, finds atmosfair
Mon 10 Dec 2018 – German non-profit carbon offsetting company atmosfair says airlines that have not updated their fleets or have only made slight improvements have lost ground in its latest global ranking of airline carbon efficiency. Worldwide, it says, only one in ten airlines is managing to keep its CO2 emissions in line with its traffic growth and fuel efficiency is rarely moving at the same pace as kilometres flown. Carbon emissions grew by 5 per cent, while the number of kilometres flown increased by 6 per cent, according to the data for 2016 examined by atmosfair of the largest 190 airlines covered by its Airline Index 2018. UK holiday airline TUI Airways again topped the rankings of the most efficient airlines, with LATAM the best performing international scheduled carrier.
“Our results show that that the efficiency improvements of the vast majority of airlines worldwide are not sufficient, neither for the 1.5 degree nor for the 2 degree target of Paris,” said atmosfair Managing Director Dietrich Brockhagen, presenting the findings at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. “We need new, synthetic and carbon-neutral fuels and other more radical measures to curb CO2 emissions in the sector.”
New aircraft types such as the Boeing 787-9 and the Airbus A350-900 and A320neo considerably raise the bar in terms of efficiency, achieving fuel consumptions of less than 3.5 litres of jet kerosene per passenger/100 kilometres, says atmosfair. As these aircraft models do not make up the majority of any fleet, it says no airline reaches atmosfair’s efficiency class A, and only two airlines – compared with three the previous year – made class B. The best results are achieved by airlines that use modern aircraft ideally suited to the flight distance, have dense seating and good occupancy rates for passengers and cargo.
The latest index used data from ICAO, IATA, OAG and FlightGlobal to analyse 33 million flights covering 22,600 city pairs, representing 92% of global air traffic. Each airline can score between 0 and 100 efficiency points, broken down into short, medium and long haul flight distance categories. Differences among airlines can be substantial, with fuel consumption per passenger/km being up to twice as high for one airline compared to another on the same route, finds atmosfair.
The purpose of the ranking, it says, is to allow passengers and companies to compare airlines when planning a flight and choose the airline with the lowest carbon emissions on a desired route.
Charter airlines filled six of the top 10 carriers in the overall rankings, with TUI Airways scoring nearly 80 efficiency points, followed in second place by LATAM Airlines, whose score improved from 72.3 points in 2017 to 78.8 this year. Another UK leisure airline Thomas Cook, in seventh place, also improved it score over the previous year. Ranking third, regional carrier China West Air is the first Chinese airline to remain permanently in the group of the best airlines.
Of the top 50 most efficient airlines in the world, 14 are located in Europe and 10 in China. Apart from LATAM, major international network carriers that performed well included Air New Zealand, Vietnam Airlines, KLM and Thai Airways, who were all ranked in the top 30. Other airlines commended by atmosfair for improving their overall fuel and carbon efficiency whilst growing economically include Finnair, American Airlines and All Nippon Airways.
Airlines that achieve the best result are those using modern aircraft and equipment such as winglets, having high seating densities and high rates of passenger occupancy and load utilisation. Atmosfair acknowledges that airlines have differing priorities in optimising their service to customers and does not assess these priorities but says it does evaluate the CO2 emissions associated with them.
LATAM scores highly, it points out, due to operating a fleet with efficient aircraft, slightly more seating than average and an increased occupancy level on short and medium distance routes. Other airlines may have predominantly modern fleets but could have below average seating and/or lower occupancy levels, and so are ranked lower. China West serves short and medium distance routes with moderately efficient Airbus A319-100 and A320-200 aircraft but has very dense seating and very high occupancy.
Commenting on TUI Airways and TUI fly’s strong performance in the Index, Kenton Jarvis, CEO of TUI Aviation, said: “TUI’s fleet of modern airplanes is 24% more eco-efficient compared to other European airlines. Investing in more efficient airplanes is key, and the phase-in of 72 new Boeing 737 MAX by 2023 will support the delivery of our commitment to further reduce the carbon intensity of our operations.”
Atmosfair Airline Index 2018
Carbon markets, NGOs and IATA urge countries at COP24 climate talks to adopt robust rules on double counting
Fri 7 Dec 2018 – Carbon market representatives, IATA and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have urged countries currently meeting at the UNFCCC’s COP24 in Poland to adopt strong rules to avoid double counting on emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement and ICAO’s CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme. This week, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the US-based EDF and a group of 40 companies, business groups and NGOs issued a ‘Katowice Declaration on Sound Carbon Accounting’. Double counting could occur when a country claims a reduction of emissions against its climate pledge under Paris when that same reduction has been sold under a carbon offset programme to, say, an airline in respect of its CORSIA obligations. Robust rules will give airlines confidence that the emissions units they buy bring about genuine reductions, says IATA.
“All markets benefit from strong accounting to build investor confidence, but in the world of the Paris Agreement, the delivery of the environmental objective absolutely depends on it,” said Dirk Forrister, CEO of IETA. “The Paris rules on carbon accounting should support international market linkages that lower costs, spur technology deployment and preserve competitiveness. These are all imperatives for business to scale up climate action.”
The declaration says it is critical clear accounting guidance is given “… to promote certainty that emissions reductions will not be used more than once for compliance purposes, to reduce financial and reputational risk associated with double counting of such reductions and to increase confidence in the integrity of the carbon markets.”
If double counting is allowed among UNFCCC Parties or between them and CORSIA, say the signatories, then that could also undermine confidence among governments, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders that international institutions have the ability to guide the necessary climate action.
Commented Nathaniel Keohane, SVP for Climate at EDF: “Carbon markets offer enormous promise to enable deep, cost-effective cuts in climate pollution at a global scale – but only if basic accounting rules are in place, like a prohibition on counting the same ton of emissions reductions twice.”
In a separate statement, IATA said it supported the line taken by ICAO to address the risk of double counting under CORSIA. “The approach, whereby the risk of double counting is addressed at the level where it would occur, is the most effective,” it said. “Any potential double-use by an aircraft operator is to be addressed through the verification by an independent third party of the emissions unit cancellation report, in which detailed information on the emissions units used by an operator will be reported. In addition, the emissions unit eligibility criteria require that emissions unit programmes have measures in place to avoid double counting.”
Nevertheless, IATA called on UNFCCC Parties to deliver clear guidance that addresses a situation where a country which hosts emissions unit programmes might also seek to count the reductions associated with units used for CORSIA towards its own mitigation pledges.
“Robust rules on double counting will give aeroplane operators confidence that the emissions units they use are not claimed by another party and that their environmental integrity is preserved,” it said.
Annie Petsonk, International Counsel at EDF, responded: “I welcome the statement as an indication that airlines don’t want the reputational risk of trafficking in credits whose underlying reductions are claimed by anyone else. As CORSIA’s emissions cap takes effect in 25 months’ time, IATA underscores the need for the UNFCCC COP to issue clear, high integrity guidance to avoid double counting.”
At COP24, ICAO held a side event earlier this week to provide an update by head of environment Jane Hupe on CORSIA implementation, in particular concerning monitoring, reporting and verification rules that come into force from January. Presentations were also made by government representatives from France and South Korea.
Hupe also said the ICAO Council had agreed at its November Session that the results of work carried out by ICAO’s environmental committee CAEP on informal testing of some emissions unit programmes against criteria on emissions units (EUC) could be used as a basis by the Technical Advisory Body (TAB) when it is established. The ICAO Assembly A39-3 CORSIA resolution requested the Council to set up the TAB that will make recommendations to the Council on eligible emissions units. The Council also agreed to initiate a process to establish the TAB by inviting the nomination of experts from ICAO Member States.
The composition of TAB experts and terms of reference for the TAB are to be discussed at the next Session of the Council in March 2019. Hupe said CORSIA issues would be reviewed at the ICAO Assembly later next year.
At present there is no indication of when clear guidance will be forthcoming on types of units that will be eligible under CORSIA. The aviation industry and carbon markets recently renewed their calls for a decision to be taken quickly so that both sectors are well-prepared in advance of the full introduction of CORSIA in 2021.
Meanwhile, NGOs WWF and Carbon Market Watch (CMW) have called on countries negotiating the Paris Rulebook at COP24 to agree to end the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) in 2020 when the Kyoto Protocol is replaced by the Paris accord.
CMW says continuing with the “seriously flawed” CDM would undermine the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC should send a signal to sectors like aviation that relying on CDM credits to pursue climate objectives would fall well short of the necessary ambition levels.
WWF agrees that CDM and JI credits should not be made available for use by countries under Paris or by airlines under CORSIA. However, it adds that CDM or JI mitigation activities – and the projects based on those activities – could be recertified under the Paris Agreement’s Article 6.4 mechanism, known as the Sustainable Development Mechanism. They would have to meet conditions adopted by a new supervisory body that would include an environmental integrity screening process, recommended WWF.
British Airways launches sustainable aviation fuels university challenge
Fri 7 Dec 2018 – British Airways is challenging UK academics to create a new generation of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) based on carbon reduction potential, innovation, value to the UK economy and feasibility to implement. In a collaboration with Cranfield University, a competition with a first prize of £25,000 to fund further research was launched at an event held at BA’s London headquarters attended by UK universities and industry experts. The award is part of a commitment from BA’s parent International Airlines Group (IAG) to invest a total of $400 million over 20 years in sustainable fuel development and long-term supply agreements. BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz said the UK could lead the world in developing and producing SAF. The airline also provided an update on its project with Velocys to produce renewable jet fuel from municipal waste.
“As an industry, we need to explore a range of options to reduce our emissions,” said Cruz. “Some of the best scientific minds in this field are based in the UK and are brilliantly equipped to develop a pathway for the UK to achieve global leadership in the development of sustainable alternative aviation fuels.”
University teams are required to submit expressions of interest in taking part in the ‘Future of Aviation Fuels Challenge’ by 18 January 2019, with an announcement of shortlisted teams expected later that month. Submissions of final proposals close at the end of March 2019 and an announcement of the winners will follow in May. As well as the £25,000 first prize, there is an award of £10,000 to the runner-up and a £5,000 ‘podium’ prize. The winning team will also be invited to present its proposal during the industry’s Global Sustainable Aviation Summit next May in Montreal and during the IATA Alternative Fuels Symposium in November to be held in the United States.
The judging panel will be made up of representatives from the UK Department for Transport, IATA, The Climate Group, British Airways and the UK Research & Innovation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Judging criteria will be based on sustainability performance, degree of innovation, potential value to the UK economy, meeting UK aviation’s carbon reduction targets and ability to implement the proposal. Teams are encouraged to look to the future and consider non drop-in fuels as well as drop-in fuels where no modification of aircraft engines or supply logistics are required.
“We have a long-term partnership with Cranfield and sought their advice in the design of the competition,” IAG’s Group Head of Sustainability Jonathon Counsell told GreenAir. “Our objective is to get as many academic institutions as possible to enter its first stage.
“We are totally open-minded about what comes out of the competition but we hope it will trigger a number of research projects that academics will take forward and develop future opportunities.”
He claimed the UK was now one of the most attractive places in the world to lead in the development of sustainable aviation fuels. “We now have the skills, resources and policies in place,” he said. “We also have world-class academic institutions and there is a great opportunity to tap into them and help us make this ambition a reality.
“For British Airways, this is all about sustainability – we have some real challenges in meeting ambitious targets to reduce our carbon emissions, and alternative fuels can play a significant role. The UK can be a world leader and centre of expertise in the deployment and export of this technology, and help aviation globally to reduce its emissions, not just the UK’s.”
Leigh Hudson, Sustainable Fuels Manager at IAG, said forecasts showed 24% of aviation emission reductions could come from the use of sustainable aviation fuels by 2050. “Early development will likely be quite slow as we develop this new technology and we estimate up to 12 biorefineries will be in operation by 2030 before ramping up quickly after that.”
IATA’s Senior Manager for Aviation Environment, Robert Boyd, told the ‘Future of Aviation Fuels’ event that his organisation forecast the number of passengers travelling by air in the UK will rise from 142 million in 2017 to 275 million in 2027, an increase of 94%. Jet fuel uplift for international flights out of the UK would also grow to 23 billion litres annually by 2030. Given most of UK jet fuel is imported today, he said, the development of a home-grown sustainable aviation fuels industry would present a tremendous prospect to grow local industries and jobs, as well as being advantageous for the UK economy and its balance of payments. “Selling jet fuel is a profitable business so there is a financial opportunity for suppliers of this fuel,” he added.
The UK government also saw huge potential for sustainable fuels to help deliver on its climate commitments, said Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg, who opened the event. “We want to encourage more sustainable ways to travel and realise the potential for the UK to become a global leader in this sector. We do need industry, government and academia to come together to tackle the environmental issues that we face today and this Challenge complements the government’s work to promote the advanced fuels industry within the UK.
“I’m really encouraged how this Challenge to universities has focused on how we can deliver aviation carbon reductions in a way that maximises the economic benefit to the UK. It reinforces the message that aviation growth and carbon reduction in aviation can be compatible objectives. It is important we support aviation growth but it needs to be done in a sustainable way.”
She suggested the global market for advanced fuels could be worth up to £3 billion ($3.8bn) by 2030, with the UK’s share around £400 million ($510m) and provide nearly 10,000 jobs. The government will be publishing a consultation ‘green paper’ shortly on its future aviation strategy, which Sugg said would look at policy to assist in the long-term uptake of SAF.
British Airways is keenly awaiting a government announcement on second-stage funding under its Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition (F4C). Its project with Velocys to build a facility to produce renewable jet fuel from municipal solid waste (MSW) won a £434,000 ($580,000) grant from the UK Department for Transport in June towards project development (see article). Stage Two of the competition will provide a total of £20 million towards capital funding for building plants that will be shared among the winning entrants, believed to number four or five contesting projects in all.
However, Counsell says the Velocys project is not dependent on the outcome and is now “progressing well” in the pre-front end engineering and design (pre-FEED) phase. Counsell is expecting announcements during 2019 on the proposed site for the plant and the investors involved, with start of construction in late 2020. The current plan is to begin production of jet fuel in 2022 or 2023. He said no details of the capacity of the plant could be released just yet but expected it to be similar to other MSW projects elsewhere in the world being planned.
Counsell said British Airways would be a committed offtaker for the renewable jet fuel over the long term, although at a price still to be negotiated.
He is confident the Velocys project will not suffer the fate of the Solena project that was terminated in 2015 (see article). The investment landscape has changed considerably since then, he said, in particular due to the new support for SAF from the UK government and its decision last year to include aviation in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation scheme.
“The RTFO has been absolutely key,” he said. “If you can get the policy incentive, potential investors are much more interested. Government opinion of your project is also important, so the winning of the first stage F4C grant is seen as a seal of approval.”
Another positive change has been the arrival of the big oil companies into the sustainable aviation fuels market, he added. “They weren’t there previously and now we’ve seen the BP move with Fulcrum, and Shell has signed up to support the Velocys/BA project. Again, this is important for investors.”
Investment by BA and Shell in the project is “one of the potential outcomes,” he said, “which will become clearer once it reaches financial close and the financial partners are announced.”
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of British Airways and the airline says it will be hosting events that will debate the future of flying over the next 100 years and focus on three key areas: fuels, aviation careers and customer experience.
“The BA centenary will aim to create a platform for steering thinking and asking questions of the people at BA, who are super-willing and energetic to want to leave a legacy behind around the topics that really matter when you think of the future, and one of them is fuels,” Cruz told GreenAir.
“The percentage of passengers interested in the environment is increasing very quickly, and they are very voluble. I am getting a growing number of letters and emails from customers about this and giving me their ideas. It pushes us to take leadership.
“As an industry, we need to explore a range of options to reduce our emissions. We’re already working with Velocys to build a plant that produces sustainable transport fuels from household waste that would otherwise go to landfill, but we don’t want to stop there. Some of the best scientific minds in the UK are based in the UK and are brilliantly equipped to develop a pathway for the UK to achieve global leadership in the development of sustainable alternative aviation fuels.”
British Airways will shortly be launching a microsite for the Future of Fuels Challenge but interested parties can find out more details in the meantime by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heathrow lays out a roadmap for achieving a carbon neutral growth future
Tue 4 Dec 2018 – Heathrow Airport has signalled its intention that by the time its proposed third runway begins operations in 2026 all new growth will be carbon neutral. This would mean that growth in emissions from additional flights after expansion would be offset through carbon credits. It expects 95% of flights departing Heathrow in 2026 to be covered by the global CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme and the airport aims to offset any remainder. Heathrow wants to play a major role in helping the aviation sector act on carbon emissions through four key areas: cleaner aircraft technology; improvements to airspace and ground operations; sustainable aviation fuels; and developing and promoting new ways of carbon offsetting. Using offsetting as an interim measure, it is planning to make the airport’s own energy use carbon neutral from 2020.
Announcing the publication of Heathrow’s Carbon Neutral Growth Roadmap, the airport’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “Climate change is the biggest challenge facing our generation. But it is not aviation that’s the enemy – it is carbon. We are committed to taking the lead to deliver carbon neutral growth in aviation, and the plan we are launching sets out the roadmap to get there.”
In a foreword to the roadmap, which is part of Heathrow’s 2.0 sustainability strategy launched last year, he says a 1.5 degree world requires net zero emissions by the middle of the century. “That will mean the transformation of every part of the world economy, and aviation is no exception,” he writes. “I believe that we can decouple growth in aviation from growth in carbon emissions. And we can even start moving towards zero carbon aviation. The challenge is to get carbon out of the global economy as quickly and cheaply as possible.”
Heathrow says it will use its leadership and market position “to capitalise on the opportunities from expansion to ensure growth is met in a responsible and sustainable way.”
To incentivise and attract the use of cleaner and quieter aircraft at Heathrow, the airport says it will continue to offer cheaper landing fees and also preferential consideration on slot allocation for new flights based on environmental performance.
In anticipation of the future introduction of short-haul electric passenger aircraft, it is also offering free landing fees for a year for the first commercially viable electric flight and, through its new Heathrow Centre of Excellence for Sustainability, will review the infrastructure requirements for charging electric aircraft. Heathrow is also calling for continued government help in providing support for R&D into new aircraft technologies and policies for making the UK a world leader in electric propulsion.
On airspace, Heathrow claims it is already the world’s most efficient airport, given the number of flights that are operated with two runways. It says a consultation on plans to further modernise airspace around Heathrow has already started and next month will publish the second of three consultations on future airspace. It is supporting the government’s own plans on modernising UK airspace that include the potential elimination of routine stacking of aircraft coming into land.
On the ground, the airport is continuing efforts to cut aircraft emissions through increasing access to on-stand power sources and reducing taxi times. To encourage efficient practices such as turning off one or more engines when taxiing, Heathrow says it is working with airlines and its air traffic control provider NATS to maximise the practice.
Heathrow also wants to become a leading hub for the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels and is pledging to provide the necessary airport infrastructure and support for pilot projects. It says it is already providing “in-kind support” to the LanzaTech/Virgin Atlantic renewable jet fuel project and is looking at how such fuels can be received and distributed in its pipelines.
“This could play an important role as smaller deliveries of fuel arrive for mixing at the airport by rail or road in the early days of the market’s development,” says Heathrow. “We are consulting with airlines on the role that landing charges can play in incentivising uptake of sustainable fuels. We also want to explore with local authorities whether sites in the area around Heathrow could also be suitable locations for sustainable fuel plants in the future.”
The airport believes ICAO should develop a roadmap that projects the uptake of sustainable fuels around the world, the policies needed to achieve this and set global goals for uptake.
Heathrow says it is a long-standing supporter of carbon pricing and its fourth objective is to play a lead role in developing the “next generation” of high quality, cost-effective carbon offsetting in the UK. It recently funded a pilot project to restore 70 hectares of peatland in the north-west of the UK, which Heathrow says will help offset a portion of the airport’s own facilities to achieve its 2020 goal of carbon neutral infrastructure.
Peatland covers around 10% of the UK but 80% of it is downgraded and emitting around 16 million tonnes of carbon a year, which, points out Heathrow, is a similar level emitted currently by flights from Heathrow. Over time, restored peatland begins to sequester carbon too, as well as delivering other benefits such as encouraging more biodiversity. A standard, called the Peatland Code, is in operation for UK peatland projects wishing to access the voluntary carbon market. It sets out a series of best practice requirements that include a standard method of quantification to be validated by an independent body.
Heathrow says there is an opportunity to channel funding from international flights to deliver significant funding for what it sees as high-quality UK offsets, and will be making a case with the UK government and ICAO for UK peatland to be eligible under CORSIA emissions unit rules.
Heathrow also wants to work with airlines and look at voluntary offsetting by individuals and corporates to provide investment for carbon projects and new technologies. It cites as an example the Swedish airport operator Swedavia’s involvement in the ‘Fly Green Fund’ that creates investment for sustainable aviation fuels.
“We want to explore policies that price carbon while contributing to the goal of fair and equitable access to air travel for all,” it says, adding that “it is open to exploring with stakeholders how UK Air Passenger Duty could be improved to help contribute to tackling climate change.”
Heathrow’s carbon neutral growth aspiration also applies to emissions from ground transportation for passengers and staff and the embodied carbon resulting from construction of a third runway.
Lastly, Heathrow calls on the UK government to engage ICAO and other Member States to agree a 2050 goal for aviation emissions. Since the aviation industry set a goal in 2008 to halve net emissions by 2050, other sectors, such as shipping, have set their own long-term goals and the latest IPCC assessment outlines the need to reach net zero emissions globally by the middle of the century, it argues.
“The aviation sector now needs to define what that scientific advice means for us,” says Heathrow. “We want to work with our industry partners, the UK and other governments, and ICAO to define the right long-term goal for aviation, and the right package of measures to achieve it.”
Concluding his foreword, Holland-Kaye writes: “Our plans are good, but we will need to keep improving. We don’t have the answers to everything – part of our leadership role is to pose the difficult questions and work with our partners in the aviation sector and beyond to answer them. We will need critical friends to challenge us where they think we are not doing enough or where there are gaps. Changing an entire global industry to tackle climate change is no easy task. But by working together we can make the difference.”
Heathrow says it is planning a series of roundtable events during 2019 to bring together government, industry, NGOs and communities to discuss its plans and “drive change in the sector faster”.