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05 Jan 2011 12:01:06

Qantas to build biofuels plant

Qantas to build biofuels plant
Qantas has announced plans to construct a biofuels plant in Sydney to create airline fuel from commercial waste.

The project is taking place in partnership with the US company Solena, which claims the annual savings from the use of its biofuels are equivalent to taking 48,000 cars off the road.

British Airways is already in the process of building such a plant that will be up and running in 2014.

The plant is part of Qantas' efforts to improve its fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent by the year 2020.

Olivia Wirth, a spokesperson for the airline, confirmed a deal has been signed with Solena for the construction of a "waste-based aviation fuel production plant in Australia".

"We expect to produce a business case for such a plant within 12 months. While we are still in the early stages of this project, the possibilities are exciting," she added.

The Qantas group currently operates more than 970 international and 5,600 domestic flights each week on a fleet of 252 aircraft. ADNFCR-1235-ID-800323740-ADNFCR

Discussion Thread  

08 Jan 2011

The report above outlining the Qantas £200m biojet plant proposal needs a bit more analysis to enable readers to determine where on the “greenwash/breakthrough” spectrum this announcement should be positioned.

Qantas and its partner, Solena, are investigating constructing a waste-to-jet biofuel plant in Australia but we have no idea, as yet, what this might mean in terms of reducing CO2 emissions from Qantas flights. If this Australian scheme proceeds, it could well mirror the proposed (and probably identical) British Airways/Solena plant, said to be opening in 2014 somewhere in East London, to turn 500,000 tonnes of London's food and biomass waste into jet fuel annually.

The East London plant could produce about 2% of BA's Heathrow fuel needs, according to the airline. BA's latest reported CO2 emissions from their global flight operations were 17,714,897 million tonnes in 2008 – being generous, and also assuming 100% carbon offset from this particular biofuel, BA's emissions would perhaps therefore be 2%/354,300 tonnes less per annum when and if this plant is up and running.

Qantas reports its CO2 emissions as about 12,500,000 tonnes in 2009, so assuming a similar waste-to-jet biofuel production quantity in Australia, Qantas might be aiming for a 2.84% reduction in its emissions.

We understand that British Airways have made no financial investment in the proposed East London plant at all, so it cannot be described as a joint venture – company sources tell us that the airline has simply undertaken, via an exchange of letters, that if Solena can produce jet fuel that's safe, meets industry standards and is priced competitively against everyday petroleum-based kerosene, then BA will consider buying it.

It's clear that both airlines would like us to believe they can slash carbon emissions. Given the recovery in the airline industry underway right now coupled with future growth projections it's highly likely that overall CO2 emissions at both British Airways and Qantas will continue to increase. Grandiose PR-led statements appearing to knock a couple of percentage points off rising CO2 emissions are more to do with manufacturing consent for unrestrained fossil-fuel powered growth than actually combating climate change, I'm afraid.

Jeff Gazzard
Board Member
Aviation Environment Federation, London

11 Jan 2011

What nonsense. There's only enough used cooking oil in existence for 3%, maybe 5% of road transport fuel. So where exactly do they think this waste cooking oil is going to come from?

Even if they do succeed in running aeroplanes on this different type of fuel (risky) it would only mean there's less used cooking oil available for road vehicle biodiesel- so more mineral diesel would have to be burnt to keep the trucks on the road.

We simply have to fly less.

22 Jan 2011

Regarding Goldenfuels comment, where was used cooking oil mentioned ? The feedstock for this fuel is MSW - municipal solid waste

Discussion Thread  


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