Hopes of “sustainable jet fuel” from waste are always just around the corner, for British Airways
British Airways (not much to do at present …) says it “will operate transatlantic flights partially powered by sustainable fuels as early as 2022”. BA says it will invest in a new US plant to be built in Georgia by LanzaJet producing commercial-scale volumes of “sustainable” aviation fuel (SAF), made from ethanol derived from agricultural and other waste. It claims this would “create 70% less carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel.” It will actually produce tiny amounts of fuel. IAG says it will invest almost £300m in SAF as part of its pledge to decarbonise by 2050 (while increasing numbers of passengers and flights!), and would investigate building a refinery with LanzaTech in the UK. BA is also involved in a domestic- waste-to-fuel plant in partnership with Velocys, in Immingham, Humberside, that Shell pulled out of in January. Sean Doyle, of BA, said (they always want public funds to help produce alternative fuels for planes) “We need government support” for this. BA and LanzaTech are part of the Jet Zero Council, launched to some fanfare by Boris Johnson in July 2020; it has not met since then.
BA plans transatlantic flights partially fuelled by recycled waste in 2022
British Airways to invest in new US plant producing sustainable aviation fuel. It says the fuel will create 70% less carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel.
By Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent (The Guardian)
Tue 9 Feb 2021
British Airways says it will operate transatlantic flights partially powered by sustainable fuels as early as next year.
BA will invest in a new US plant to be built in Georgia by LanzaJet producing commercial-scale volumes of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), made from ethanol derived from agricultural and other waste.
The airline said the fuel would create 70% less carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel.
However, it is likely to only provide a tiny fraction of BA’s overall fuel needs at first. SAF can be used to substitute for up to 50% of conventional jet fuel but so far demonstration flights – such as one conducted in 2018 by Virgin Atlantic with LanzaTech (from which LanzaJet was spun off) – have blended only about 5% of the greener fuel.
BA’s owner, IAG, which has pledged to invest almost £300m in SAF as part of its pledge to decarbonise by 2050, said it would investigate building a refinery with LanzaTech in the UK, as well as a waste-to-fuel plant in partnership with Velocys.
The announcement came as the Dutch airline KLM claimed a world first in using sustainable synthetic kerosene on a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Madrid. Shell made 500 litres – just over 5% of the flight’s overall fuel burn – synthesised from CO2 and water using renewable energy sources.
Pieter Elbers, the chief executive of KLM, said: “The transition from fossil fuel to sustainable alternatives is one of the largest challenges in aviation. This first flight on synthetic kerosene shows that it is possible in practice and that we can move forward.”
BA said it expects the LanzaJet fuel to “be available to power a number of its flights by the end of 2022”. Its chief executive, Sean Doyle, said: “Following the successful startup of the Georgia plant, we hope to then deploy the technology and SAF production capacity in the UK.”
But he added: “We need government support to drive decarbonisation and accelerate the realisation of this vision.”
BA and LanzaTech are part of the Jet Zero Council, launched to some fanfare by Boris Johnson last year with an ambitious – if technically unfeasible – challenge to built a zero-emission long-haul jet.
The government has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, last week rebuffed accusations of inaction, telling the Commons that the council had met twice already. Shapps has now admitted it only met once, on the day it was launched last July.
Mike Kane, the shadow aviation minister, said: “The transport secretary claimed the government’s Jet Zero Council was a ‘huge step forward in making change’, so it’s disappointing to say the least that he doesn’t know the most basic details of its work.
“If ministers are serious about achieving sustainability in aviation and tackling the climate crisis, they need to focus on making real progress, not just paying lip service.”
Shell pulls out of UK joint venture with BA and Velocys to produce “low carbon” jetfuel
Shell has pulled out of the joint Altalto venture with British Airways and Velocys to build a plant in Immingham, Humberside to make “sustainable jet fuels from non-recyclable household waste. There has been a lot of hype about novel fuels for aviation, and how they will help reduce the CO2 emissions from flights slightly – even while the sector stays the same size or grows. Shell will instead join a more lucrative fuels project in Canada, which plans to produce fuel more efficiently (using a better source of waste – as they include wood “waste”). The Altalto projects hopes to be producing jet fuel within 5 years. The existence of the Humberside plant enabled Boris to claim Britain would be in the forefront of low carbon fuels etc (Britain always has to be on top …) Producing standard, high quality jet fuel from highly variable domestic waste is difficult. Other projects have not been a success. In 2017 the fuel project in Essex by Solena, to produce fuel for British Airways, was scrapped as Solena went bankrupt (presumably before producing any fuel). While the Canadian scheme plans to use over 200,000 tonnes of non-recyclable and wood waste annually to produce nearly 125m litres of fuel, the UK Altalto project would use 500,000 tonnes of waste to make 60m litres.
Aviation points, mainly on future “Sustainable Aviation Fuels” from Boris’ 10-point plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution”
The Government has produced a new 10-point plan, “for a Green Industrial Revolution – Building back better, supporting green jobs, and accelerating our path to net zero.” Much is aimed at creating new jobs in new sectors. There is little about aviation, and nothing of much substance, except hopes for “sustainable aviation fuels” (SAF) for future use. It says government will put £15m into FlyZero – a 12-month study, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), into the strategic, technical and commercial issues in designing and developing zero-emission aircraft that could enter service in 2030. Also a £15m competition to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels production. They will establish a Sustainable Aviation Fuels clearing house to enable the UK to certify new fuels, driving innovation in this space. There will be a consultation in 2021 on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate to blend “greener” fuels into kerosene, which will create a market-led demand for these alternative fuels. The mandate would start in 2025. Government will invest in R&D for the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen aircraft. And there will be a consultation on an Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy in 2021.
Jet Zero Council had its first meeting on 22nd July – to bring aviation emissions in line with UK 2050 net-zero target
The Jet Zero Council held its first meeting, online, on 22nd July. Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is the only representative on the council, representing environmental issues. Government press release on the first meeting said: “Chaired by the Transport and Business Secretaries, today’s first ever Jet Zero council meeting will discuss how to decarbonise the aviation sector while supporting its growth and strengthening the UK’s position as a world leader in the sector.” And Grant Shapps said: “The Jet Zero Council is a huge step forward in making change – as we push forward with innovative technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and eventually fully electric planes, we will achieve guilt-free flying and boost sustainability for years to come.” … Producers of novel fuels are excited. … They all want lots of government money. Tim Johnson said: “It was a positive start, with an appropriate degree of ambition and urgency, a technology-neutral stance that will treat all options equally, and recognition that getting new technology and SAF into the fleet requires a regulatory framework that includes carbon pricing. That’s a good platform to work from.”