Norway leads way for aviation biofuels

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Avinor: Biofuel is sustainable alternative to fossil fuel for airlines
By Hans Jørgen Elnæs

The fuel burn churned out every year by the world’s airlines is 1.5 billion barrels of jet fuel, equivalent to 237 billion litres. But Norway is forging ahead with alternatives.

Environmentalists frequently point to the airline industry as being the worst example for global emissions. The facts, however, are more balanced, the airline industry currently being responsible for 12% of all CO2 emissions and 2% of global carbon emissions.

But the future may look a little more challenging, as the projected demand for air transport is expected to double from the current volume by 2035.

Biofuel from Norwegian forests
Norway is globally acclaimed for being one of the most innovative countries in the world on reducing emissions, and that extends to the aviation sector.

Avinor, the state-owned airport operator, has jumped on the bandwagon and is taking part in the ‘green shift’ by offering a mix of jet fuel (JetA1) and biofuel to any airlines filling up their tanks at selected airports across the country.

The biofuel is made from farm and forestry waste and cooking oil (shipped from California) and is currently available at Oslo Gardermoen (OSL) and Bergen (BGO) airports.

Biofuel can be mixed 50/50 with conventional jet fuel (JetA1) and no adjustments to aircraft engines or onboard fuel systems are required.

A recent report from consultancy firm Rambøll said it was possible to achieve a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by using Norwegian sustainable biofuel obtained through biomass from forestry waste and pulpwood from Norwegian forests.

This means that 400 million litres of all aviation fuel used at Avinor’s airports could be sustainable by 2030.

Avinor invests 100 million
The major challenge to implement large-scale biofuel production from biomass from Norway’s forests is the cost of production. In 2017, the cost per litre of biofuel is NOK 7-25 (€0.72-2.57), compared with NOK 4-5 per litre of conventional aviation biofuel that is made of farm and forestry waste together with cooking oil.

Since Avinor launched its biofuel project in 2015, three large airlines – SAS, Lufthansa Group and KLM – have started using biofuel when refuelling at OSL and BGO.

Avinor has already set aside NOK 100 million for a project to run from 2013 to 2022, to develop aviation biofuel production from the Norwegian forests.

Norway has unlimited resources of biomass from its forests and large-scale deforesting will not have a negative effect environmentally as reforesting will surpass the annual biomass taken out.

The Avinor initiative is guided by a sustainability plan for the aviation industry by the international airline organizations ICAO and IATA, to achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020, and by 2050 to make emissions equal to half of the net aviation CO2 emission in 2005.

Look to Norway is a well-known expression. It could not be more accurate in terms of the development of a sustainable aviation industry on a global scale, based on biofuel.

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