Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia attract international interest in developing homegrown jet biofuels

Wed 22 Mar 2017 – A year after issuing a joint Request for Information (RFI) from parties interested in supporting the development and production of sustainable aviation fuel in the region, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia say they have had strong interest both locally and from abroad. The airlines have now completed an extensive review of more than 30 responses from organisations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe and the United States. When announcing the RFI, the airline partners said that while the aviation biofuel development was accelerating internationally, it was not the case in their region. A roadmap report published in 2011 by the Australian government science research agency CSIRO found that by 2020 a 5 per cent bio-derived jet fuel share could be possible in Australia and New Zealand, expanding to 40 per cent by 2050. Despite both airlines having engaged in a number of early alternative fuel initiatives, progress so far has been slow however.

High potential in North America for low-carbon jet fuels but unlikely to make impact on ICAO emissions goal

Mon 12 Jun 2017 – North America has a higher potential for the production of sustainable alternative jet fuels than other regions of the world because of its available resources but it is unlikely that switching to low-carbon fuels alone can make the necessary reductions in carbon emissions projected by ICAO to ensure the carbon-neutral growth goal after 2020, concludes a US study. Due to the high expense of alternative fuels relative to the projected low costs of offsets under the ICAO CORSIA scheme that starts in 2021 and the delayed transition from collective to individual offset responsibility, the incentive to switch is greatly reduced for an airline, particularly in the early years. The study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) says robust policy support will therefore be needed to spur alternative fuel deployment at the scale needed to make a substantial contribution to CORSIA commitments.

KLM signs agreement with Costa Rica to explore potential for sustainable biofuel flights from San Jose

Tue 7 Nov 2017 – KLM has entered into a cooperation agreement with the government of Costa Rica to research the possibility of flights out of the capital San Jose using sustainable aviation fuel. The Dutch carrier said it was the first time such an agreement had been made by an airline with a government. The two parties signed a letter of intent last week that will see KLM share its knowledge and expertise with the government in close cooperation with partner SkyNRG. The move coincided with the KLM launch after a 20-year break of a direct twice-weekly return service between San Jose and Amsterdam that will be operated by a Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner.

“This cooperative effort is a new step in making civil aviation more sustainable,” said KLM COO René de Groot. “The greater the production – and therefore the greater supply of biofuels – the lower the price will be and the more businesses will use it. KLM and Costa Rica are taking the lead now. It would be great if other airlines, governments and the entire biofuel supply chain took such steps.”

In 2009, KLM became the first airline in the world to operate a flight using sustainable biofuel, which it followed with its first commercial flight in 2010. Since then, the carrier has operated more than a thousand flights using bio-based jet fuel. From October 2016, it started using sustainable biofuel derived from recycled cooking oil that is produced by AltAir and delivered by SkyNRG on all flights from Los Angeles for a period of three years. The Los Angeles biofuel is delivered directly to the storage tanks at the airport, which also hold the conventional jet kerosene supply. Oslo Airport was the first airport to supply a percentage of sustainable fuel through its regular fuelling process, with KLM purchasing biofuel there for a series of 80 flights.

KLM operates a Corporate BioFuel Programme through which a variety of companies contribute to stimulate the use of sustainable biofuel and help bridge the cost gap with conventional fuel. However, says KLM, the market for sustainable biofuel remains far from mature and the price is three times higher than that of fossil fuel.

Except for El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala, Costa Rica is the only country in Latin America to volunteer so far to join the ICAO CORSIA global carbon offsetting scheme from the start.

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