British Airways partners with Velocys to turn waste to aviation fuel
October 09, 2017
After its previous venture fell through, British Airways (BA) is re-trying its luck with renewable aviation fuels and has partnered with Texas-headquartered renewable fuels firm Velocys to use fuel made from household waste.
Under the partnership, BA would help Velocys design a series of plants that would divert hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household waste from UK landfills to produce renewable fuel, Air Transport World reported on 18 September.
“The planned plant will produce enough fuel to power all BA’s 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,” a BA spokesman told the news site.
The renewable fuel would reduce emissions by 60% when compared to traditional fossil aviation fuels and save 60,000 tonnes of CO2/year, contributing to BA’s goal of cutting its net emissions by 50% by 2050.
The latest venture was similar to the GreenSky project BA launched with Washington-based Solena Fuels in 2010 but which never materialised.
The GreenSky project was projected to fuel BA’s flights from London City airport with biofuels from 2017 onwards, but due to mixed government support, lack of investment and low crude oil prices, the venture never took off.
This time, however, BA said it was more likely to succeed, as Velocys was already producing waste-based biofuels in the USA.
“Velocys has a track record of successful projects and they run a plant in the USA that’s already functioning. The technology is already proven and we believe the market environment has improved since our previous experience,” BA told Air Transport World.
One of the improvements was the UK government’s addition of sustainable jet fuel incentives into its Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) on 14 September.
“The UK government and the Department for Transport will provide incentives to progress sustainable fuels. These changes in the TRFO allow aviation fuel suppliers to opt into development fuels. That incentive provides a way into this area, which is different from where we were previously. While we are clearly at an early stage, this partnership is a significant step in this process,” BA said.