The E.U. Emissions Trading System (ETS) has given a sense of urgency to the development of renewable aviation jet fuel. British Airways is the latest airline to ink a deal, announcing that they are building capacity to produce renewable aviation biofuels using waste biomass as a feedstock.
British Airways has partnered with the U.S. company Solena Group to establish Europe’s first sustainable jet-fuel plant and plans to use the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet starting in 2014.
The new fuel will be derived from waste biomass destined for landfills in London. The production facility is slated to convert 500,000 tons of waste per year into 16 million gallons of jet fuel through the Fischer Tropsch process — resulting in lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 percent compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene. British Airways has signed a letter of intent to purchase the fuel, but the fuel produced by the plant is not yet certified for use in the United Kingdom.
The European Union has had an ETS in place since 2005 and recently passed Aviation Amendments, which requires aircraft operators that fly into and out of E.U. airports to participate in the ETS. Starting this year, regulated airlines will begin monitoring their GHG emissions. In 2013, the first mandatory compliance year for the ETS, the regulation will require operators to surrender allowances equal to their carbon dioxide emissions in 2012.
In addition to efficiency, renewable jet fuel is quickly becoming a key strategy for airlines to reduce their compliance costs.