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Photo: Avinor

Norway spotlights biofuels and electric planes

A conference in Oslo today brings together expertise to ponder problems and solutions.

A conference is taking place today at the DOGA design hub in Oslo to discuss the future of aviation biofuel and electric aircraft.

The event, “Emission-free aviation in 2040?” is being organised by Norway airport operator Avinor, the Federation of Norwegian Aviation Industries and the Norwegian environmental organisation Zero.

The international conference again throws the spotlight on ongoing efforts in Scandinavia to make aviation greener.

“Aviation is of key importance for Norway and the industry must take its share of responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Avinor CEO Dag Falk-Petersen.

“Sustainable jet biofuel will play an important role and we are facing the electrification of aviation. We want to bring together the communities working on these issues, with the aim of sharing expertise and insights for the road forward.”

Develop the market
Studies show that 30% of all aviation fuel at Avinor’s 46 airports can become sustainable by 2030. The fuel can be produced from forestry waste and pulpwood from the country’s forests. At the airports Oslo Gardermoen and Bergen, jet biofuel is available but the problem is that it is difficult to source enough of it, Avinor says.

In 2016, 1.25 million litres of sustainable jet biofuel were used in Norway, or 0.1% of all jet fuel sold in the country that year. Last August, the scheme was extended to include Bergen, but there was very limited availability of jet biofuel on the market in 2017, resulting in a drop to only 125,000 litres of biofuel being used in total for the two airports during the year.

“Currently very little sustainable jet biofuel is produced globally, and what little there is has a price that is not competitive,” explains Torbjørn Lothe, managing director of the Federation of Norwegian Aviation Industries. “To achieve the [30%] target, there will therefore be a need for public instruments.”

Is electric the answer?
Avinor says there is “considerable interest” in the development of electric aircraft as an alternative solution. Boeing, Airbus, Siemens, Rolls Royce and NASA are all working on developing the commercial potential for electric and hybrid-electric aircraft. One study says it could be a reality within ten years.

In Norway, Avinor and the Norwegian Association of Air Sports have set up a long-term project for the introduction of electric aircraft in Norwegian aviation. The state-supported project has the project partners Widerøe and SAS as well as the climate foundation Zero.

“Just a short time ago electric aircraft were unimaginable. Now a number of major players are claiming that in only a few years they will be able to provide aircraft with electric solutions for domestic scheduled traffic in Norway,” says Marius Holm, head of Zero.

“In order to bring up the volume of emission reductions from aviation, we also need to see a quick phasing in of sustainable jet biofuel. This will allow Norway to lead the way and show how we can realign aviation.”

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