British Airways is partnering with the renewables fuels firm Velocys on a new program that will see household waste converted into jet fuel at a number of specially designed waste processing facilities, according to a press release on the matter.
This “renewable” jet fuel will then be used by the British Airways fleet of commercial aircraft. The program is intended to help the company become more “sustainable” and is part of its previously developed long-term plans relating to that goal, and also to the goal of reducing its net emissions by 50% by the year 2050.
The first of these new household-waste-to-jet-fuels facilities will be able to convert hundreds of thousands of tonnes of material that would otherwise be headed to the landfill or incinerator into jet fuel, according to the company.
The press release provides more: “The planned plant will produce enough fuel to power all British Airways’ 787 Dreamliner operated flights from London to San Jose, California and New Orleans, Louisiana for a whole year. It would be the first plant of this scale. The airline plans to supply its aircraft fleet with increasing amounts of sustainable jet fuel in the next decade.
“The jet fuel produced at the plant will deliver more than 60% greenhouse gas reduction, compared with conventional fossil fuel, delivering 60,000 tonnes of CO2 savings every year. This will contribute to both global carbon emissions reductions and local air quality improvements around major airports.
“During the past week the Department for Transport has published changes to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), and for the first time, sustainable jet fuel will be included in its incentive scheme. These changes to the RTFO are designed to promote sustainable aviation. Once implemented, they are expected to provide long term policy support for this market.”
That makes the timing of the announcement very surprising, does it not? Graft aside, gaining some (limited or otherwise) self-sufficiency as regards jet fuels probably makes a lot of sense for the UK considering that the North Sea oil industry is now in the process of completely falling apart.
IAG CEO Willie Walsh commented on the announcement: “Sustainable fuels will play an increasingly critical role in global aviation, and we are preparing for that future. Turning household waste into jet fuel is an amazing innovation that produces clean fuel while reducing landfill.”
While that may be true, I think that air travel will become more expensive and much less common within 20 or 30 years than it is now.