KLM and SkyNRG to open factory to produce “low carbon” jet fuel, mainly from “wastes”

Airlines are desperate to find some form of fuel that they can claim is “low carbon” and that does not have obviously negative environmental and social impacts. Finding these miracle fuels is the only way the industry could continue its rapid growth in fuel burn, for decades to come – in the face of the global climate emergency. Dutch airline KLM is keen to get “sustainable” aviation fuel (SAF), working with SkyNRG. They are hoping to use “regional waste and residue streams such as used cooking oil, coming predominantly from regional industries” as feedstock. A plant is being built, to be opened in 2022, making this fuel.  KLM says:  “From 2022, the plant will annually produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF …. It will mean a CO2 reduction of 270,000 tonnes a year for the aviation industry.”  That number all depends on how it is measured – they are regarding this fuel as causing the emission of at least 85% less CO2 than conventional kerosene. (Is that realistic?) KLM says: “There will be absolutely no use of food crops, such as soya oil and palm oil (or by-products such as PFAD and POME), for production.” Biofuelwatch has calculated that using all tallow worldwide for biofuels could only supply 1.7% of global aviation fuel burned in 2016. Converting all Used Cooking Oil that can be realistically collected in the EU and USA would meet just 0.16% of US aviation fuel and 0,26% of EU aviation fuel use respectively.


KLM, SkyNRG and SHV Energy announce project first European plant for sustainable aviation fuel

Amstelveen, Netherlands

SkyNRG press release

27 May 2019 

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has committed itself for a 10-year period to the development and purchase of 75,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel a year. KLM is the first airline in the world to invest in sustainable aviation fuel on this scale. SkyNRG, global market leader for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), will develop Europe’s first dedicated plant for the production of SAF in Delfzijl.

The production facility will specialise in producing SAF, bioLPG and naphtha, primarily using regional waste and residue streams as feedstock. The plant will be the first of its kind in the world. The construction of this facility, which is scheduled to open in 2022, is a concrete step towards fulfilling KLM’s sustainability ambitions and contributing to the broader industry plan “Smart and Sustainable”. SHV Energy, global leader in LPG distribution, will also invest in the facility and will purchase the bioLPG produced.

Sustainable aviation fuel is a necessary short-term option the commercial aviation industry has, to reduce CO2 emissions in the short term, in addition to fleet renewal and operational efficiency gains. However, not enough sustainable kerosene is currently being produced. The new production plant is a SkyNRG project, called DSL-01, and will be dedicated to production of sustainable aviation fuel. From 2022, the plant will annually produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF, as well as 15,000 tonnes of bioLPG, as a by-product. It will mean a CO2 reduction of 270,000 tonnes a year for the aviation industry. This is an important step for the industry to accommodate the need for carbon emission reduction on the one hand, and the increasing demand for sustainable aviation fuel on the other.

CO2 reduction of 85%
The feedstocks used for production will be waste and residue streams, such as used cooking oil, coming predominantly from regional industries. The facility will run on sustainable hydrogen, which is produced using water and wind energy. Thanks to these choices, this sustainable aviation fuel delivers a CO2 reduction of at least 85%, compared to fossil fuel. The use of SAF will also contribute to a significant decrease in ultra-fine particles and sulphur emissions. The construction of this facility is very much in line with KLM’s sustainability objectives and is an important step towards implementing the industry action plan “Smart & Sustainable”, which was drafted by twenty leading transport organisations and knowledge centres. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol will also be investing in the development of this facility.

Fuel meets the highest sustainability standards
SkyNRG’s independent Sustainability Board advises on whether the fuel meets the highest sustainability standards, thereby ensuring that the fuel (produced from waste streams) will not have a negative impact on the food supply and environment. There will be absolutely no use of food crops, such as soya oil and palm oil (or by-products such as PFAD and POME), for production. The board includes representatives from WWF International, the European Climate Foundation, Solidaridad Network and the University of Groningen. Furthermore, the sustainability of the chain and related products are ensured through certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), the highest possible certification standard for sustainable fuels.

In addition to KLM and SHV Energy, SkyNRG has joined hands with various other partners in the Netherlands and beyond, on the DSL-1 project: EIT Climate-KIC, Royal Schiphol Group, GROEIfonds, NV NOM, Groningen Seaports, Nouryon, Gasunie, Arcadis, TechnipFMC, Haldor Topsoe, Desmet Ballestra, Susteen Technologies, and MBP Solutions. These partners will be involved in various phases of the project.

Pieter Elbers
, KLM President & CEO: “I am proud of our collaboration with SkyNRG and SHV Energy to launch a project that will see the development of the first European production facility for sustainable aviation fuel. The advent of aviation has had a major impact on the world, offering a new means of bringing people closer together. This privilege goes hand in hand with huge responsibility towards our planet. KLM takes this very seriously and has therefore invested in sustainability for many years. By joining hands with other parties, we can build a plant that will accelerate the development of sustainable aviation fuel. From 2022, the plant will produce 100,000 tonnes a year, of which KLM will purchase 75,000 tonnes. This will reduce our CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year, which is equal to the emissions released by 1,000 KLM flights between Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro.

Maarten van Dijk, executive director of SkyNRG: “We are very proud to announce this project today and that we will be realising it in the Netherlands together with such strong partners. For us and our partners, this project is an important milestone in further upscaling the market for sustainable aviation fuel. We are the first to take a step on this scale and we hope it will serve as an example to the rest of the industry in the transition towards a sustainable future for commercial aviation.”

Bram Gräber, CEO of SHV Energy: “We are proud of our innovative collaboration with SkyNRG and KLM, enabling us to make a positive contribution to energy transition. This investment closely aligns with SHV Energy’s strategy to further increase the share of sustainably produced energy products. Our customers in Europe, many of whom are not connected to the natural gas grid, rely on SHV Energy to meet their energy needs efficiently, sustainably and safely. As pioneers in the field of bioLPG, we are pleased that this project will add 15,000 tonnes of bioLPG to our annual supply. This amounts to more than 35,000 tonnes of CO2 reduction.”

Jenny Walther-Thoss, WWF & Member of SkyNRG’s independent Sustainability Board: “From the first plans in 2016, this project has been thoroughly discussed with the SkyNRG Sustainability Board. We are comfortable with the steps taken to safeguard its sustainability performance, in particular on the strict feedstock sourcing strategy.”

Rolf Hogan, Executive Director of RSB: “We are pleased and proud that KLM and SkyNRG are committed to RSB certification of the sustainable aviation fuel. Our standards are globally considered to be the best in class. Our 12 comprehensive principles include greenhouse gas emissions, human and labour rights, practices to maintain soil health and water use and rural and social development. None of the other standards use such a broad range of criteria.”



Comment from BiofuelWatch: 

Looks like it’ll be broadly similar to WorldEnergy’s refinery, which we wrote about here: https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2019/worldenergy-report-pr/ .

Presumably no technical corn oil (because there’s not much of that around in Europe), but Used Cooking Oil and tallow).

The UK has long been importing a lot of Used Cooking Oil from the Netherlands for road transport biofuels. In fact, some years back, we imported more of that than existed (a nice illustration of issues with sustainability reporting…)!
If all that used cooking oil was to go to aviation biofuels, I guess the UK, and maybe other countries, will switch to different feedstocks which won’t be anywhere as benign.  [It is like poking a balloon – if you press one part, it pops out somewhere else.  If genuinely low carbon fuel is being produced, and used by the aviation industry, then another sectors has to use higher carbon fuel.  It does NOT solve the overall  problem – just helps aviation pretend its emissions are lower. Buck is just passed on to some other sector ….. AW comment].
Would be good to know who’s going to pay for that refinery and whether it’ll be subsidised.




11th February 2019 – (BiofuelWatch website)

A new report [1] about aviation biofuels, published by the environmental NGO Biofuelwatch [2] today, exposes the strict limits to the amount of such fuels which could be sourced from wastes and residues as well as their adverse indirect impacts.

The report coincides with a meeting of the UN organisation ICAO in Montreal [3] which campaigners fear could ultimately result in the green light being given for large-scale use of aviation biofuels made from virgin vegetable oil, especially palm oil, one of the main drivers of deforestation especially in Indonesia and Malaysia. [4]

Biofuelwatch’s report concludes that the limits to the amount of suitable wastes and residues would make it impossible for airlines to avoid virgin vegetable oils – especially palm oil – if they were to start using biofuels on a large scale.

The report focusses on WorldEnergy’s [5] refinery in Paramount, California, until now the only one to regularly produce biofuels for aircraft. Amongst WorldEnergy’s customers have been KLM, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Gulfstream, and Oslo Airport.

So far all of the biofuels made at the Paramount refinery have been made from tallow, which is a residue from slaughter houses. Given the scarcity of tallow, WorldEnergy is now planning to diversify into Used Cooking Oil and a corn oil residue from corn ethanol refineries.

Report author Almuth Ernsting states: “So far, airlines have only been using small amounts of biofuels, and for those, they have been able to rely mainly on residues and waste as feedstocks. Yet the only – medium-sized – refinery that produces aviation biofuels today is already running out of tallow and therefore ha to resort to lower-quality wastes and residues which are in even shorter supply. To scale up their use of biofuels, airlines will have no choice but to resort to palm oil, and this would be disastrous for the climate, for forests, and for forest-dependent communities.”

A previous Biofuelwatch report, published in January, showed that Neste, who heavily rely on palm oil, expect to overtake WorldEnergy as the world’s biggest aviation biofuel producer this year. [6]

Biofuelwatch has calculated that using all tallow worldwide for biofuels could only supply 1.7% of global aviation fuel burned in 2016. Converting all Used Cooking Oil that can be realistically collected in the EU and USA would meet just 0.16% of US aviation fuel and 0,26% of EU aviation fuel use respectively. The total amount of the corn oil residue is even smaller than that of Used Cooking Oil. Furthermore, diverting more than the most contaminated types of tallow from animal feed, soap production and food results in greater palm oil use as a replacement. Diverting corn oil residue from animal feed to biofuels, leads to more soya oil being fed to cattle, and thus greater emissions from land use change.