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UK jet fuel plant may boost airline industry

Manama, August 9, 2010

Partners in Europe's first planned sustainable jet fuel plant in London are hoping that the development will revolutionise the airline industry in the Middle East and around the globe.

British Airways (BA) formally announced its partnership with the Solena Group in launching the new self-contained plant in London earlier this year.

Speaking to the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, BA head of environment Jonathon Counsell said the airline hopes the launch of a new plant in London will pave the way for similar plants to be built throughout the world.

'We want plants like this to be built right across the world,' he noted. 'I think we're very much leading the way in terms of proof of concept and there's a good reason for that,' he added.

'We have the EU Emission Trading Scheme in Europe (EUTS) and using the produce of this plant means that we get immediate benefit because we are credited for using bio-fuels.

'What we want to do is demonstrate to the rest of the industry that this technology can be built anywhere.'

'Wherever you have waste, whether its domestic waste, agricultural waste or industrial waste, you can build a plant like this,' he said.

'We would encourage every city in the world to look at the approval and follow the example we are setting.'

'The key enablers for this to happen are sources of waste to produce enough biomass to reduce carbon emissions and the issue of landfill space,' he added.

'Any major city has plenty of waste to supply a plant but I'm not sure if the Middle East would face the same problems with regard to landfill.

'Here (London) we have the landfill tax, which means local authorities have to get rid of domestic waste but have to pay the government to put it in landfill. It's quite expensive at £50 per tonne at the moment,' he said.

The new plant will be able to convert 500,000 tonnes of waste destined for landfill into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel through a process that offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 per cent compared to fossil fuel-derived jet kerosene.

This volume of fuel would be more than twice the amount required to make all of BA's flights at London City Airport carbon-neutral.

BA has signed a letter of intent to purchase all the fuel produced at the plant by Solena Group, an advanced bio-energy and bio-fuels company based in Washington.

Although BA runs services between Bahrain and London's Heathrow Airport, Counsell said that the new fuel would benefit everybody.

'It's difficult to say how it will affect specific countries,' he said. 'What I can say is that it will reduce exposure to carbon costs, so if we're paying less carbon costs then it will be reflected in our fares.

'It's good for everyone to have a mechanism to avoid costs,' he added.

'There is recognition in the industry of all three routes and we won't rule out a look into other routes in the future.

'Biomass is there now, the crop-route is probably about three to five years away and algi is probably about five to 10 years away.

'I guess what we're seeing in the Middle East at the moment is the development of the understanding of the need to look at sustainable products.

'The biggest thing for us in the industry is that if we don't do something to reduce our carbon footprint, then there will be a lot of taxes focused on the airline industry,' he added.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: London | BA | airline industry | jet fuel plant |

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