Editor’s comment: Delivering on decarbonisation goals

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Header image: Dallas Fort Worth Airport celebrates achieving the new Level 4+ Airport Carbon Accreditation


While COVID-19 has undoubtedly challenged the global aviation industry, it has also led to a reinvigorated drive for sustainability as stakeholders look to build back better.

This week more than 20 associations collectively representing Europe’s aviation ecosystem have announced a joint commitment to work with policy makers to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This latest pledge follows the release of the Aviation Round Table Report on Monday 16 November, which details how aviation can  recover sustainably and more resiliently from the coronavirus pandemic, while supporting the European Union’s Green Deal objectives.

Pact for sustainable aviation

EU leaders have also been urged to join and actively support an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation by the end of 2021. In order to further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and achieve decarbonisation, the pact calls for various steps to be adopted, including: An EU legislative framework to promote the uptake, production and deployment of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF); Funding and investment to accelerate low-carbon aircraft innovations; Increased public co-funding rates for Civil Aviation Research & Innovation through EU recovery mechanisms; And the revision of the Single European Sky and continuation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme/CORSIA.

In support of the pact, Olivier Jankovec, Airport Council International (ACI) Europe’s Director General, said: “The European aviation sector believes that its recovery is fully compatible with, and should be accompanied by, broader efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, provided the right policies are in place.”

New carbon accreditation levels

In line with the airport industry’s continued progress towards decarbonisation, Jankovec revealed two new Airport Carbon Accreditation levels during the airport trade body’s annual congress, which was held on Tuesday 17 November. The carbon accreditation programme had previously gone up to Level 3+ Neutrality, but Level 4 Transformation and Level 4+ Transition go beyond that, requiring airports to align their management strategies and plans with the ambition of the Paris Agreement, according to which global warming should be limited to below 2⁰C  and ideally 1.5⁰C. Carbon footprints will also be extended under the new levels, so additional emission sources have to be included, notably covering all significant operational emissions from third parties, including airlines. Requirements related to stakeholder engagement will also be tightened with effective partnerships oriented towards delivering emissions reductions coming to the fore.

“During the worst of the pandemic, airports around the world continued to achieve accreditation at all levels of the programme,” said Jankovec. “The introduction of these two further levels sets the bar yet higher. They bring the programme in line with the latest scientific and policy developments of recent years, and quite rightly reflect enhanced public expectations of the societal and environmental role we play,” he concluded.

With two airports having already achieved Level 4+ accreditation – Dallas Fort Worth in the US (pictured) and Indira Gandhi International Airport in India – it’s great to see the wheels are already in motion for airports to continue playing their part in delivering a zero-carbon future.

Have a great weekend,

Chloë Greenbank,

Editor, Regional Gateway

Velocys welcomes report showing viability of SAF in decarbonising aviation

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Sustainable fuels technology company, Velocys, has welcomed a report from the World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey & Company showing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) as being the most promising decarbonisation pathway for the aviation industry.

“McKinsey’s new report demonstrates there is a clear path for aviation to cut its emissions significantly through the use of SAF,” confirms Henrik Wareborn, CEO of Velocys.

Titled Sustainable Aviation Fuels as a Pathway to Net-Zero Aviation, the report highlights that with no airport infrastructure or existing aircraft changes needed as well as enough sustainable feedstock to fuel this shift, a transition to SAF is within reach.

Adding that Velocys is at the forefront of this movement, Wareborn said: “Altalto, our planned facility in North East Lincolnshire, will be the first waste-to-jet-fuel facility of its kind in the UK, taking hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waster per year, which would otherwise have gone to landfill or incineration to produce SAF that considerably reduces both greenhouse gas emissions and exhaust pollutants from commercial aviation.”

The SAF produced by Velocys at its new facility will cut lifecycle emissions by 70% with the potential to reach more than 100% with CCUS added to the process.

“The McKinsey report confirms that there is ample solid waste feedstock available at a global level to supply projects like ours, and shows that aviation can be provided with enough SAF to meet long-term decarbonisation goals without the use of food crops and without causing land use change,” concluded Wareborn.

Shell and Red Rock sign agreement to increase SAF distribution

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In line with efforts to increase the distribution of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), Shell has entered into an agreement with Red Rock Biofuels to purchase SAF and cellulosic renewable diesel fuel from its new biorefinery in Lakeview, Oregon.

Shell plans to distribute the SAF to Red Rock’s existing airline customers.

“SAF is crucial to aviation’s success in reaching net zero emissions by 2050, alongside new technologies and high-quality carbon credits,” said Anna Mascolo, President of Global Aviation at Shell. “But to enable SAF to fulfil its potential we need to be proactive and resolute in finding opportunities to increase availability of SAF today and tomorrow.”

She added that an increase in SAF is dependent on, “collaboration across the whole value chain.”

Red Rock’s refinery is scheduled for completion in early 2021. Once operational, it will be the world’s first commercial scale plant to utilise waste woody biomass from forests at risk of wildfire to create SAF and cellulosic renewable diesel.

“This has been one of the most devastating wildfire seasons on record,” said Terry Kulesa, CEO of Red Rock. “We have seen wildfires grow in intensity, acreage, and damage to public health and the environment. One of the many potential benefits of this plant is to reduce the waste woody biomass lying on the forest floor which may help to mitigate the spread of wildfires.”

Referencing the new partnership, Kulesa also commented: “With its operational capabilities and global supply chain expertise, Shell is ideally positioned to support us in helping make low-carbon SAF more widely available to airlines who are committed to reducing emissions and tackling climate change.”

In general, lifecycle carbon emissions from SAF and cellulosic renewable diesel are expected to be up to 80% lower than conventional jet fuel. The SAF will be supplied to airports through existing airport infrastructure and can be used blended by airlines without technical modification to their current fleet.

Coalition releases new sustainable aviation fuel guide

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The Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF Coalition) has released a second edition of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Guide.

Fueling the Future serves as an educational and informational resource about the practicalities of SAF development, industry adoption, and pending expansion of supply and use, primarily from the perspectives of the business aviation community.

“The single-largest potential reduction in aviation’s GHG emissions — and the key to reaching our goals — will come about through the broad adoption of sustainable aviation fuel in place of the current conventional jet fuel,” the coalition concludes in the guide.

The SAF Coalition – which includes the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) – developed the guide.

The coalition’s Steering Committee includes dozens of aviation businesses, representing every point in the SAF development-and-supply chain, and all of which provided real-world expertise in the development of the guide.

“It is very encouraging to see the continuously increasing interest from the business aviation community to use SAF to address sustainability goals,” commented Steve Csonka, CAAFI Executive Director. “Although a modest user of the worldwide production of jet fuel, their exuberant interest in acquiring supply will clearly help accelerate SAF production ramp-up, one of the entire aviation industry’s key needs. We hope this guide helps amplify the opportunity and response.”

“We are proud of the steps this coalition has taken to demonstrate the business aviation community’s commitment to a cleaner future,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We have made great progress on Sustainable Aviation Fuel in recent years. Our goal now is to increase SAF supplies as much as we can, as fast as we can, to make our sustainability goals a reality.”

Image: Mats Karlen

Air bp and Neste increase supply of sustainable aviation fuel in Europe

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Air bp and Neste are to increase the availability of SAF to various European airport customers in 2020 and 2021. Deliveries are expected to begin in the coming weeks with Stockholm (ARN) and Oslo (OSL) among the first recipients.

The increased supply of SAF, the volume is five times larger than that supplied by the businesses in 2019, comes in response to rising demand from existing and new airline customers, as well as from Norway, where there is a mandate requiring 0.5% of all jet fuel sold to be SAF.

“bp’s ambition is to be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and to help the world get to net zero. Air bp aims to support our customers and the wider aviation industry on their path to meet their low carbon goals. We believe sustainable aviation fuel will play an important role as the industry recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Martin

Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel annual capacity is currently 100,000 tons. With their Singapore refinery expansion on the way, and with possible additional investment into their Rotterdam refinery, Neste will have the capacity to produce some 1.5 million tons of SAF annually by 2023.

Aviation coalition calls for UK Government to get behind industry’s green recovery

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Sustainable Aviation, a UK aviation coalition, has called for the sector to be at the heart of the UK Government’s green recovery plan.

In a letter to the Transport Secretary, the Sustainable Aviation coalition has argued that a joined-up approach to decarbonising aviation will enable the UK to rapidly bounce back from Covid-19.

To achieve this, the coalition has called on the government to capitalise on the UK’s world-leading position on sustaianable aviation fuel (SAF) technology by committing £500 million to support early stage projects. The move follows the news last week that Europe’s first municipal waste-to-jet fuel facility – Altalto Immingham – was granted resolution for planning permission in North East Lincolnshire.

Adam Morton, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said: “In February this year, the UK aviation committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and laid out a plan to achieve this through investing in cleaner aircraft and engine technology, smarter flight operations, sustainable aviation fuels and high-quality carbon offsets and removals.

“Three months on, these actions all remain essential to delivering sector wide decarbonisation, particularly given the role UK aviation can play as an engine for rebuilding the economy. But to capitalise on these opportunities we need urgent action from government, particularly to support the commercialisation of SAF technology in the UK.”

The coalition is urging government to work with the industry to: Develop aircraft and engine technology R&D capabilities, ensuring the UK is among the first in the world to develop hybrid and electric aircraft. It also wants to see government accelerate airspace modernisation, to make use of new aircraft performance capability and reduce emissions and noise; and to progress robust carbon offset measures and carbon removal technologies.