British Airways Tries Again on Waste-Based Biofuels
by Victoria Moores (Air Transport World) UK carrier British Airways (BA) has partnered with renewable fuels company Velocys, after an earlier waste-to-fuel initiative—named GreenSky—with Washington-based Solena Fuels fell through.
This latest venture uses fuel derived from waste biomass, similar to the GreenSky project that BA signed up to with Solena in 2010. Under that earlier project, BA was planning to power its London City flights using biofuels from a new facility in east London, which was scheduled to start production in 2017. However, the Solena project never materialized because of mixed government support, cautious investor appetite and low crude oil prices.
Commenting on the new Velocys partnership, a BA spokesman told ATW this venture is more likely to succeed because Velocys is already producing waste-based biofuels in the US.
“This project has the same basic claim as GreenSky, but there are a number of basic differences. Velocys has a track record of successful projects and they run a plant in the US that’s already functioning. The technology is already proven and we believe the market environment has improved since our previous experience,” the BA spokesman said.
One of these changes is that the UK government has added sustainable jet fuel incentives under its Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), which was updated Sept. 14. READ MORE
Partnership aims to bring waste-to-jet fuel plants to UK (Biofuels International)
The wild green yonder: British Airways aims to fly on trash, again (Biofuels Digest)
Excerpt from Biofuels Digest: The other two partners are Suez, a world leading expert in recycling and waste management, which intends to provide technical and operational expertise and manage the supply of feedstock to the project; and Norma, an affiliate of Ervington Investments, Velocys’ largest investor, which is a potential investor in the project.
What happened that made the timing now?
Last year, at the time the original project was scrapped, BA spokesperson Cathy West told The Guardian, “The government needs to support innovative aviation biofuels projects such as this if they are to progress. Aviation fuels are not eligible for incentives that road transport fuels receive, making it difficult to build a business case to invest in UK aviation fuels projects. This affects investor confidence.”
What did British Airways want and get?
They wanted aviation biofuels included in the UK’s the government’s Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation.
And yes, this past week, the Department for Transport published changes to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), and for the first time, sustainable jet fuel is to be included in its incentive scheme. These changes to the RTFO are designed to promote sustainable aviation. Once implemented, they are expected to provide long term policy support for this market.
The planned plant will produce enough fuel to power all British Airways’ 787 Dreamliner operated flights from London to San Jose, California and New Orleans, Louisiana for a whole year. It would be the first plant of this scale.
Then as now, it remains one of the signature efforts to brings aviation biofuels from a demonstrated technology to an everyday commercial reality at scale. Multiple airlines have been at the forefront in catalyzing the testing and certification of fuels. Now, projects like this one and Fulcrum are on the cusp of beginning construction.
The next questions?
One — will the project produce fuels cheap enough to merit a green-light in these low oil-price times. We think that the UK’s RTFO support will make that possible, but time will tell.
Two — will we see a sudden blooming of this technology wave into deployment phase? Are we looking at a handful of projects over the next 5-10 years, or dozens of them? READ MORE