Location just west of Canvey Island named as BA / Solena plant to make jet fuel from London urban waste
A site for the project, by BA and Solena, to convert landfill waste into jet fuel has finally been announced, after long delays. The site will be in the Thames Enterprise Park, a regeneration project just east of London on the Thames estuary (a few miles west of Canvey Island). The site includes the redundant former Coryton Oil Refinery. Work on building the GreenSky facility is expected to start in 2015 and be completed in 2017. BA is providing construction capital and has committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices. BA is hoping that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption will give it green credibility, and it will claim it cuts its carbon emissions. In reality, if liquid fuels can be made from urban waste, there is no reason why aviation needs to be the user of them – especially as aviation intends to greatly increase its total fuel consumption in coming decades. Liquid fuels that can genuinely be considered “sustainable” could be used by any other consumer. If aviation appropriates these “sustainable” fuels, and uses increasing amounts of fuel, the net effect is that other users have to use high carbon fuels. No net benefit. Other than in (flimsy) green PR terms for BA.
The concept of producing energy and biofuels from urban waste is not new, and is not unique to BA or Solena.
See http://www.biofuelstp.eu/waste.html for other examples, and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofuel to give just a few.
BA clears Essex waste-to-fuel plant for take off
Solena Fuels and British Airways confirm for Essex plant capable of turning landfill waste into green jet fuel
By James Murray (Business Green)
16 Apr 2014
A world-leading clean tech plant capable of turning landfill waste into green jet fuel, raising the prospect of a new era of lower carbon aviation is to be developed – on an industrial estate in Essex.
British Airways and green fuels specialist Solena Fuels announced today that will move forward with long-standing plans to develop the state-of-the-art GreenSky facility at the Thames Enterprise Park on part of the site of the former Coryton oil refinery in Thurrock, Essex.
The companies said the site was selected because it has excellent transport links and existing fuel storage facilities, which will be able to hold some of the estimated 120,000 tonnes of fuel the facility will produce each year.
The project is now expected to employ 1,000 workers during construction and a further 150 permanent staff once it comes online in 2017.
According to Solena Fuels, the facility will process 575,000 tonnes of municipal waste typically destined for landfill using a patented gasification technology and Velocys Fischer-Tropsch conversion process to turn the material first into a synthetic gas and then into a liquid fuel. The site is expected to produce 120,000 tonnes of “clean burning liquid fuels” each year, including 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel that BA has agreed to acquire at market competitive rates.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, said the project underlined the company’s commitment to developing lower carbon aviation technologies.
“We are always striving to reduce our impact on climate change and this first-of-its-kind project marks a significant step for the aviation industry,” he said in a statement. “The construction of the GreenSky London fuel facility at Thames Enterprise Park will lay the foundations for British Airways to reduce its carbon emissions significantly. The sustainable jet fuel produced each year will be enough to power our flights from London City Airport twice over with carbon savings the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.”
A spokesman for the company confirmed that the new facility would deliver substantial carbon savings. “The use of the biojet fuel will result in a net reduction of CO2 for British Airways equivalent to a reduction of 120,000 tones of jet fuel or approximately the same as 3,500 flights on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London to New York,” he said in an emailed statement. “In addition, the GreenSky facility will produce biodiesel, the use of which will result in a net reduction of CO2 equivalent to 120,000 tonnes of diesel or approximately the same as taking.”
However, the company did not disclose the precise level of the carbon savings that can be expected from the fuel compared to conventional jet fuels.
The project still faces a number of challenges in terms of securing full planning permission and finalising the requisite funding arrangements, but Solena Fuels expressed confidence that work at the site would get underway in around 12 months’ time.
“We are excited to help British Airways achieve its sustainability goals by providing an innovative solution to produce drop-in jet fuel,” said Robert Do, president and chief executive of Solena Fuels. “We anticipate starting construction of the site in approximately 12 months after all the requisite permits and agreements have been obtained.”
He added that further facilities could be in the pipeline, as part of a long term partnership with BA. “We are looking forward to successfully building GreenSky London and partnering with British Airways on additional facilities in the United Kingdom,” he said.
The companies did not disclose details on the full scale of the investment required in the new plant, but Gabriel Buck, head of CAPEX financing solutions at Barclays, which is advising on the project, said that it represented an attractive proposition for investors. “This is undoubtedly a unique and ground breaking project,” he said. “The economic and environmental fundamentals will, we believe, be attractive to investors from both a debt and equity perspective. The project debt structure has been identified with preliminary agreements in place with an Export Credit Agency who are not only providing the guarantees but also the funding. We are now focused with the project team on getting all aspects of the funding structure completed.”
The news, which comes just two weeks ahead of the 2014 Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva, represents a further boost to the fledgling green aviation sector. BA is one of a number of airlines leading R&D efforts designed to scale up the use of biofuels in the aviation sector, with companies such as Virgin and Lufthansa also investing heavily in the development of sustainable fuels made from waste and algae.
Boost for British Airways and Solena waste-to-jet fuel GreenSky project as location of facility is confirmed
Map showing area (north bank of estuary, a few miles west of Canvey Island)
An architectural impression of the GreenSky facility (graphic: British Airways)
Wed 16 Apr 2014 (GreenAir online)
The British Airways and Solena project to convert landfill waste into jet fuel has received a major boost with the announcement of the location chosen for the facility. The site will be in the Thames Enterprise Park, a regeneration project just east of London on the estuary of the River Thames that includes a former oil refinery. Work on building the GreenSky facility is expected to start in 2015 and employ around 1,000 workers in the construction, which is due to be completed in 2017, and create up to 150 permanent jobs when operational. British Airways is providing construction capital and becoming a minority shareholder in the $500 million GreenSky project. The airline has committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices, currently worth around $550 million.
“We are always striving to reduce our impact on climate change and this first-of-its-kind project marks a significant step for the aviation industry,” said Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG. “The construction of the GreenSky London facility will lay the foundations for British Airways to reduce its carbon emissions significantly. The sustainable jet fuel produced each year will be enough to power our flights from London City Airport twice over with carbon savings the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.”
The brownfield industrial site in Thurrock, Essex is situated in the northern Thames Gateway and is said to have good transport links and existing fuel storage facilities. Part of the site had been occupied by the former Coryton Oil Refinery, which had been redundant for years before its sale in 2012, and the rest had originally been held as refinery expansion land. The assets of the refinery were acquired by a consortium comprising Vopak, Shell and Greenergy and rebranded as a joint venture named Thames Oilport. The venture is looking to develop a refurbished terminal for the bulk importation and blending of fuels and redevelop the rest of the site for renewable energy and power generation projects such as GreenSky.
“This is an ideal site for a biofuel initiative like Solena’s and we are very pleased to be associated with it. It is located on the Thames with fuel storage and fuel pipelines and good road, rail and jetty infrastructure,” said Andrew Owens, Chief Executive of Greenergy. “Thames Enterprise Park’s main goal is to provide regeneration of the former Coryton oil refinery following its closure. The facility proposed by British Airways and Solena is exactly the type of high profile technology project both we and Thurrock Council want to attract to the site, particularly given the number of skilled jobs provided.”
Advice on the financing of the GreenSky project is being provided by Barclays. “This is undoubtedly a unique and ground-breaking project. The economic and environmental fundamentals will, we believe, be attractive to investors from both a debt and equity perspective,” said Gabriel Buck, Head of CAPEX Financing Solutions at Barclays. “The project debt structure has been identified with preliminary agreements in place with an Export Credit Agency who are not only providing the guarantees but also the funding. We are now focused with the project team on getting all aspects of the funding structure completed.”
GreenSky will take around 575,000 tonnes of annual post-recycled waste, normally destined for landfill or incineration, for conversion into 120,000 tonnes of clean-burning liquid fuels, including 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel, using Solena’s patented high-temperature plasma gasification technology. This converts the waste into synthetic gas, which is then converted into liquid hydrocarbons using third-party technologies that include cleaning and conditioning of the gas, a Velocys Fischer-Tropsch conversion process, hydrocracking and electric power production. Solena says it has completed the initial engineering design and with its partners is now starting the next engineering phase of the facility.
“We anticipate starting construction of the site in approximately 12 months, after all the requisite permits and agreements have been obtained,” said Robert Do, CEO of Solena Fuels. “We are looking forward to successfully building GreenSky London and partnering with British Airways on additional facilities in the United Kingdom.”
British Airways’ Head of Environment, Jonathon Counsell, told a seminar at the recent World Bio Markets event that the airline is expecting annual savings of up to 145,000 tonnes of CO2 from using GreenSky fuels. “We are doing this to help reduce our carbon emissions, not to get a source of cheap fuel. It’s very much a demonstration plant for us. If we can prove this works commercially then we will build a number of them in the UK – potentially up to six – at this scale or even bigger,” he said.
Further details of the airline’s sustainable biofuel plans and the GreenSky facility are expected to be revealed by Counsell and Walsh at the Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva later this month.
Related GreenAir Online articles (GreenAir is very thorough on this subject):