Etihad joins Total, Boeing for aviation biofuel project
Abu Dhabi, January 19, 2014
Abu Dhabi's state-owned carrier Etihad Airways is joining with French energy firm Total and US aircraft maker Boeing to develop biofuels in the emirate, company officials announced on Sunday.
With its huge oil reserves, Abu Dhabi has ample access to cheap jet fuel, but it has said it wants to develop sustainable energy sources to diversify its economy. Biofuels could also help Etihad meet targets in the aviation industry for curbing emissions of greenhouse gases.
Etihad expects to start commercial flights of aircraft with bio jet fuel in five years, chief operations officer Richard Hill told reporters.
"In five years, technology will mature for biofuel to be commercially viable. We could offer competitive fares in the industry," he said, adding that it was too early in the project to elaborate on issues such as the total cost of investment or production capacity.
Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Co (Takreer) and the emirate's Masdar Institute of Science and Technology will also take part in the project.
The venture - 'Biojet Abu Dhabi: Flight Path to Sustainability' - is looking at various raw materials to produce biofuel including agricultural waste, date palm leaves, and plants tolerant to salt water such as salicornia that could be grown in coastal areas of the UAE, officials said.
Biojet Abu Dhabi will engage a broad range of stakeholders to develop a comprehensive framework for a UAE biofuel supply chain, including research and development and expanded investment in feedstock production and refining capability in the UAE and globally.
The Masdar Institute’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium, funded by Etihad and Boeing, is currently researching and developing salt-tolerant plants that would be raw material for the same refining processes to produce renewable fuel.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad, said, “In collaboration with our key partners, our goal is to support and help drive the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi, the region and also globally."
"We have made some important first steps in this process and our continued focus will be to develop further initiatives such as this which will facilitate the availability of sustainable aviation biofuels for Etihad in the coming years,” he said.
The Etihad demonstration flight and announcement of Biojet Abu Dhabi were held in the run-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the World Future Energy Summit. - Reuters and TradeArabia News Service