Shell and Lufthansa agree on SAF collaboration

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Lufthansa Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Shell to explore a supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at airports around the world. The agreement could see the SAF supply reach up to 594 million gallons in total from 2024 until 2030. The agreement could mark one of the most significant collaborations for SAF in the aviation sector and Shell’s largest SAF commitment to date.

The potential SAF to be supplied by Shell will be produced by up to four different approved technology pathways and a broad range of sustainable feedstocks.

Jan Toschka, President Shell Aviation, commented: “It is encouraging to see large flagship carriers coming to us to discuss SAF supply deals, knowing there will be a lot of things to be defined and determined at a later stage, including established price markers. SAF is the most significant way to decarbonise aviation over the decades to come. Our relationship goes beyond commercial arrangements – it is strategic and aligned regarding the view that SAF holds the key to achieving a sustainable aviation future. The potential SAF purchase agreement contemplated under the MoU, by its anticipated volume size, term period and geographic scope, is expected to be a milestone if concluded and shows the way forward for decarbonisation in the aviation industry.”

Katja Kleffman, Head of Fuel Management Supply Lufthansa Group added: “As an industry we have to work jointly towards making flying more sustainable and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Shell is very experienced with the global handling of Jet fuel and that is one key element for our trust for smooth operations of SAF, too.”

The agreement is part of Shell’s ambition to have at least 10% of its global aviation fuel sales as SAF by 2030 and on the Lufthansa Group’s ambition to drive the availability, the market ramp-up and the use of SAF as a core element of its sustainability strategy.

 

Logistical considerations for SAF mandates

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Air bp’s global head of sustainability, Andreea Moyes, on the logistical considerations for SAF mandates.

While the aviation industry remains committed to increasing production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to help decarbonise the industry, limited production capacity and cost premiums over conventional fossil fuels mean that SAF currently comprises less than 0.1% of total aviation fuel consumption1. To scale up production and increase supply, blending mandates alongside other regulatory measures, including incentives to bridge the gap with conventional jet fuel, are being introduced in countries around the world.

In July 2021, as part of the European Union’s (EU’s) strategy to reduce emissions 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, the ‘Fit for 55’ package of regulatory proposals was announced. A central component of this decarbonisation plan is a blending mandate for SAF via the ReFuel Eu Aviation Initiative. It outlines that from 2030, the aviation fuel made available to EU airports should contain 5% SAF, increasing to 63% by 20502.

Blending mandates as a way of stimulating demand are welcomed, however Air bp is calling for the complexities of SAF supply and delivery to be factored in when implementing these mandates.

In particular, the EU’s SAF blending mandate will require multiple supporting policies including preferential feedstock access for the aviation sector and a long-term framework to support SAF production. In addition, Air bp is calling for the implementation of mass balancing centres from which SAF can be delivered into select air transport hubs, to decrease the regulatory cost burden and simplify logistics, rather than SAF being available at all airports.

As detailed in the graphic, over 50% of demand for jet fuel in Europe comes from just 10 airports. Requiring SAF to be delivered to every airport at low blending levels could lead to multiple trips (primarily using heavy goods vehicles), which would counteract the benefits of SAF by generating additional carbon emissions. This requirement will however be less pressing once higher blending levels are achieved across the full supply chain.

Top 10 airports accounting for estimated 50% of jet fuel in Europe

Increasing SAF supply shouldn’t be about how much of the fuel is being delivered into one particular airport or aircraft. Ultimately it should come down to how much SAF is replacing conventional fossil fuel overall and ensuring SAF is delivered as efficiently as possible and with minimal carbon emissions.

The European landscape cannot be classified with just one type of airport – as we frequently hear, there is no “one size fits all” model. Segregating fuels so they can be transferred to dedicated airport refuelling tanks or trucks and delivering SAF to every airport as some mandates require are neither practical nor environmentally friendly solutions. Ultimately it should come down to how much SAF is replacing conventional fossil fuel overall and ensuring SAF is delivered as efficiently as possible and with minimal carbon emissions.

 

The aim should be to get SAF delivered, ideally via pipeline, in large volumes to primary hubs with better and more flexible infrastructure and higher aircraft movements. Mass balancing enables fuel suppliers to meet SAF targets within a country or region by delivering the necessary SAF quota to a particular airport or several larger locations rather than physically moving small volumes to every single airport.

In line with this mass balancing approach, initiatives such as Air bp’s book and claim system also help broaden SAF’s reach. It enables customers to access SAF carbon reductions without being physically connected to the supply site. Although fuel suppliers are working hard to scale up SAF supplies, the complexities of creating supply chains and moving SAF around Europe mean it is currently out of reach for many potential customers. Air bp would like to open its book and claim system to wider market adoption. This will provide customers with ongoing and greater access to SAF while waiting for it to be physically available across a global supply chain.

While SAF is recognised as the front runner to achieving widescale decarbonisation of the aviation sector in the immediate future, producing SAF in every country and making it available at every airport is neither viable nor a cost-effective solution. A deep understanding of what is required based on feedstocks available, technical pathways, processing methods, testing and blending logistics is key to the wider roll out of SAF. As such, the success of blending mandates currently being implemented will rely on the input, and expertise of suppliers such as Air bp who are already heavily engaged in ensuring SAF can be supplied at scale not just in the short term but up to and beyond 2050.

Embraer’s latest aircraft makes debut landing at London City

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Embraer’s latest aircraft, the E195-E2 departed Farnborough on Friday 22 July bound for London City where it demonstrated its steep approach capability.

The landing, in anticipation of the aircraft’s certification for steep approach into the London hub later this year,  included ground handling tests and other preparations. It also demonstrates the importance Embraer places being able to offer London City capability to airlines with the E195-E2. The E190-E2 began operations into the UK capital in September 2021. Embraer aircraft account for 85% of all LCY operations on routes including Edinburgh in Scotland and Mykonos in Greece.

Seating up to 146 passengers the aircraft is the largest in the E2 family and the model flown into London City was fuelled with a 39% blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and featured the eye-catching black and gold TechLion livery.

“The arrival of the E195-E2 signals that we are on the cusp of welcoming more new generation aircraft that provide world-class environmental performance, carry more passengers and have the potential to connect this airport with more global markets,” said Alison FitzGerald, COO at London City Airport.

She added: “This moment also represents the strength of the partnership we have with Embraer and together we are pushing the envelope of what’s possible at this airport, as at 146 seats and a wingspan of 35 metres, it will be comfortably the largest aircraft to operate from LCY.

“While the immediate focus is on certification, we are hopeful that we will see the first E195-E2 in operation next year with KLM, which will be a real cause of celebration.”

Meanwhile, Arjan Meijer, President and CEO Embraer Commercial Aviation commented: “London City feels like home for Embraer. It is a great airport, not just because it’s fast and efficient for passengers to travel through, but because its unique challenges as an airfield demonstrate the excellent performance of our E-jets. We are immensely proud to be the dominant aircraft brand at LCY and look forward to seeing scheduled services begin with the E195-E2.”

London City’s runway length measures 1,508m and descent angles are up to 5.5 degrees. Currently, 85% of all flights landing or departing the airport are E-Jets or the E190-E2 operated by such carriers as BA Cityflyer, KLM, Cityhopper and Helvetica Airways.

FIA2022: Could Boom Supersonic’s Overture be landing at your airport in 2029?

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This year’s Farnborough Airshow saw Boom Supersonic presenting the refined design of the Overture – the world’s fastest airliner, optimised for speed, safety and sustainability. Boom Founder and CEO, Blake Scholl proudly described the new design as “looking like Concorde and a 747 had a baby.”

Carrying 65-80 passengers at twice the speed of today’s airlines (according to its manufacturers it will fly from London to New York in 3.5 hours) the Overture will run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and will fly Mach 1.7 over water with a range of 4,250 nautical miles. Production launch for the aircraft is on track for 2024, while the first flight is planned for 2026 with first deliveries and passenger flights in 2029.

The aircraft’s updated configuration combines a number of engineering innovations in aerodynamics, noise reduction and overall performance. Key features include: Four-engine design; quieter operation; contoured fuselage; gull wings; carbon composite construction; and net-zero carbon as will fly on 100%.

“Aviation has not seen a giant leap in decades,” said Scholl. “Overture is revolutionary in its design and it will fundamentally change how we think about distance. With more than 600 routes across the globe, Overture will make the world dramatically more accessible for tens of millions of passengers.”

The company also announced that it will begin outfitting the Iron Bird, a new 70,000 sq. ft. hardware ground test faciltiy in Centennial, Colorado to house its first full-scale Overture testing model and flight deck simulators.

In addition to partnerships with Collins Aerospace, Eaton and Safran Landing as suppliers for key systems such as landing gear, fuel and inerting, avionics and ice protection, Boom Supersonic also announced a landmark agreement with Northrop Grumman to develop special mission variants of its aircraft for the US Government and allies.

FIA2022: Airport operations targeted in UK’s Jet Zero strategy

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With Tuesday 19 July marking the hottest day in British history, the UK Government chose Farnborough Airshow to launch its “Jet Zero” strategy. The irony of temperatures climbing to a high of 40.2 degrees while the UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps attended this year’s airshow to outline how the country plans to decarbonise aviation didn’t go unnoticed.

The UK’s Met Office has revealed that extreme temperatures in the UK have been made 10 times more likely by climate change, while Shapps underlined in the strategy that at current rates, aviation is expected to become one of the largest emitting sectors by 2050. “We have to break the link between air travel and rising global temperatures,” said Shapps, alongside Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation and Trudy Harrison, Minister for Transport Decarbonisation in the strategy’s foreword.

“Aviation’s success must no longer damage the plant. That is why we have developed the Jet Zero Strategy – not only securing a more sustainable future for our climate, but also for our aviation industry, and the critical role it plays in boosting trade, tourism and travel.”

The strategy is underpinned by an overarching approach and three principles with measures to achieve jet zero that include making domestic flights net-zero by 2040 and all airport operations in England zero emissions by the same year. In addition and having committed £180 million of funding to support the development of a UK sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry the government’s aim is to unlock further private financing to develop the UK’s own SAF plants with a commitment to have at least five plants under construction by 2025 and a SAF mandate in place with a target of at least 10% SAF by 2030. There has already been real progress in the UK on this front with Phillips 66 producing and providing the first commercially produced SAF in the UK at its Humber refinery.

“Innovation has long been clear and often evidenced right her at Farnborough,” said Shapps speaking at the airshow. “Now the industry must embrace that change once again, tackling the defining issue of our time, climate change – which is so vividly experienced in the heat here today.”

 

Teesside SAF plant progresses with further multi-billion pound UK green investments

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With its headquarters in Saudi Arabia, engineering company alfanar has outlined its vision for a series of multi-billion-pound green investments in the UK. The first of these investments, the planned £1bn Lighthouse Green Fuels waste-to-SAF plant, which is under construction in Teesside in the UK, entered the FEED phase in June after alfanar awarded the contract to Worley. The plant is due to be up and running in 2027.

According to alfanar, the project is currently the most advanced SAF facility in the UK. It will use gasification and Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert one million tonnes of everyday household and commercial waste into 180 million litres of SAF and green naphtha per year – the equivalent of fuelling more than 15,000 short-haul flights a year.

Located in Teesside’s net-zero industrial cluster, the plant has the potential to utilise the East Coast Cluster’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure, due to be available from the mid-2020s to further reduce the SAFs carbon intensity. The engineering firm is also actively assessing other UK sites for second and third SAF plants to be built by 2030 and 2035 respectively, with plans to develop further green projects in the UK and beyond using CCS and hydrogen infrastructure.

Commenting on the plant’s progress, Mishal Almutlaq, Chief Investment Officer said: “With the third largest aviation network in the world, and one of the largest potential offshore CO2 stores, the UK has the industrial and geological advantages to become a global leader in developing green aviation fuel with the lowest possible emissions using CCS technology. That is why we want to build our first ever SAF plant in the UK by 2027 and two further plants by 2035.

“To deliver net-zero aviation, the government has already established the Jet Zero Council and announced grant funding for SAF projects as well as consulting on a Jet Zero Strategy. To continue this leadership, and to enable alfanar’s first SAF project and other similar early projects to progress, price certainty is also needed. We are therefore today calling on the UK Government to progress the SAF mandate and introduce a price stabilisation mechanism such as a Contract for Difference for SAF.”

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, added: “Whether it be in hydrogen, CCUS, offshore wind or SAF, Teesside has established itself as a global centre for developing the green technologies that will mean we can achieve our ambitious net-zero targets.

“This milestone by alfanar is another first, and further strengthens our region’s position as the number one place to develop new clean energy tech. alfanar’s SAF plant will create 700 good-quality well paid jobs during construction and 240 full-time roles when operational, fuelling our economy whilst reducing the emissions from a huge number of flights.”

Kansai Airports agree to first large-scale commercial production of SAF in Japan

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Kansai Airport, which owns and operates Kansai International, Osaka International and Kobe airports in Japan, has concluded an agreement with JGC Holdings Corporation and REVO International to commit to the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from used cooking oil as a renewable feedstock.

The agreement follows a target set by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) to increase the proportion of SAF in aviation fuel to 10% by 2030.

As part of the planned SAF supply, JGC Holdings, REVO International and Cosmo Oil have planned the first large-scale commercial domestic production of SAF at Cosmo Oil’s Sakai Refinery in Osaka. The annual production capacity planned will be on the level of 30,000 kilolitres, with the first commercial supply beginning in 2025 in time for Expo 2025, which will be held in Osaka.

The agreement with Kansai Airports forms the basis for the airport operator to contribute in securing used cooking oil from restaurants and other sources. The company will raise awareness of the importance of SAF in decarbonising aviation not only at their airport restaurants, hotels and in-flight catering facilities, but also at nearby restaurants, schools and communities. REVO International will collect the oil at sites introduced by Kansai Airports and transport it to the SAF production site planned by JGC Holdings, who will also coordinate the SAF manufacturing process.

As members of a public-private council promoting SAF, both JGC Holdings and Kansai Airports will work with national and local government offices to address the technical and economical challenges of producing and distributing SAF at scale.

 

Header image: Kansai Airport, Japan. 

Aviation stakeholders collaborate to achieve 100% SAF-powered flight

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Marking a milestone in aviation’s lower carbon journey, regional aircraft manufacturer ATR, Swedish airline Braathens Regional Airlines and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supplier Neste collaborated to enable the first ever 100% SAF-powered test flight on a commercial regional aircraft. The fuel was uplifted at Malmo Airport in Sweden before the aircraft flew to Bromma in southern Sweden near Stockholm.

The historic flight, which took place on Tuesday 21 June, 2022 and lasted around 1 hour and 20 minutes, is part of the 100% SAF certification process of ATR aircraft that began in September 2021 in cooperation with Braathens and Neste and which is expected to be complete by 2025. While various ground and flight tests have taken place on the ATR 72-600 prototype aircraft, Tuesday marked the first time a flight was conducted with 100% SAF in two engines.

Describing it as a “historic day for aviation,” ATR CEO Stefano Bortoli added: “After more than a century of commercial flights powered by kerosene, we are at the dawn of a new era. In recent months, we carried out a series of successful flights with SAF in one engine. We now decided it was time to perform the first test flight with 100% SAF in both engines. This helps us to certify our aircraft to fly solely on SAF faster and to enable more sustainable connections as a result. The flight represents a true milestone for the entire aviation industry as it shows that this technology works and can be promptly adopted by many in our industry to speed up the transition to low-emission aviation.”

Meanwhile, Johnathan Wood, Neste’s Vice President Europe Renewable Aviation noted that SAF is key to achieving aviation’s emission reduction goals. “When used in neat form, at 100% concentration as on this test flight, Neste MY SAF redues greenhouse gas emissions over its lifecycle by up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuel use, and provides additionally non-CO2 benefits through significantly reduced particulate emissions, among others. As a drop-in fuel, it can be used in existing aircraft engines and is compatible with current airport fuel infrastructure. Test flights like this show it is possible to safely fly on 100% SAF and help accelerate the adoption of SAF in aviation.”

Pratt & Whitney worked closely with ATR and Braathens to prepare for the milestone flight with Maria Della Costa, President of Pratt & Whitney Canada saying: “This milestone affirms the opportunity that SAF plays in the aviation industry and is indicative of the strong commitment Pratt & Whitney has made to powering more sustainable aviation.”

The flight also underline that speeding up the transition to net-zero carbon emissions can only be achieved when all stakeholders within aviation work closely together.

 

Menzies Aviation joins coalition of aviation stakeholders decarbonising aviation

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Aviation logistics specialist, Menzies Aviation, has become the first aviation fuel services provider to join Clean Skies for Tomorrow (CST), a coalition of airports, airlines and oil companies aligning efforts to achieve carbon neutral flying.

Led by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Energy Transitions Commission, a key goal of CST is to accelerate sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to reach 10% of the global fuel supply by 2030. SAF is currently the only alternative fuel option available for commercial aircraft and accounts for less than 1% of all total jet fuel demand.

“We are delighted to be the first aviation fuel services business to join the CST coalition,” said Morven McCrindle, Executive Vice President, Fuels, Menzies Aviation. “We recognise the need to reduce our emissions and will continue to explore and implement changes that will not only help us reach our goals, but also support our customers on their journeys to net zero.”

Menzies’ fuelling operators have already carried out SAF refuellings on commercial flights in both the UK and the US. They are also implementing management of change procedures for the receipt and handling of SAF at some fuel farm locations.

Beyond supporting the transition to SAF, Menzies has implemented its All In Sustainability strategy, which includes a commitment of becoming carbon neutral for Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2033, which coincides with Menzies’ 200th anniversary. Specific to its fuels division, Menzies is trialling alternative fuels for fuelling equipment, expanding the deployment of electric refuelling vehicles, optimising fuel farms to reduce water and electricity consumption, and exploring enhanced digital solutions.

Hy2gen and SAF+ consortium agree to collaborate on development of Quebec hydrogen sector

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Hy2gen Canada and SAF+ Consortium have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development of Quebec’s hydrogen sector. The agreement will see the two companies work together towards the development of structuring projects in the hydrogen industry sector, specifically green aviation fuels, starting with a Quebec-based project.

Having raised €200m earlier this year, Hy2gen will use this capital for the construction of installations in a number of geographic areas, including Europe, that will be producing synthetic green hydrogen-based fuels, or ‘e-fuels’, for aviation, as well as land and sea transportation.

Meanwhile, the SAF+ Consortium can also rely on a number of well-known partners in the aeronautical sector’s value chain, including Airbus, Air Transat, ADM Montreal Airport.

According to Hy2gen CEO and Hy2gen Canada President Cyril Dufau-Sansot: “Hy2gen is convinced that hydrogen-based renewable fuels are a perfect short-term solution to the decarbonisation of the main producers of the greenhouse gasses such as the air sector and welcomes this partnership agreement with the SAF+ Consortium as part of our efforts and our expertise to help Quebec not only meet its greenhouse goals for 2030, but also to lead the way.”