SkyNRG, Shell Aviation developing Europe’s first sustainable aviation fuel plant

Shell Aviation plans to strengthen its long-term strategic partnership with SkyNRG, a global market leader for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), by supporting its plan to develop the first dedicated SAF production plant in Europe, according to a Nov. 14 statement.This Shell Aviation/SkyNRG partnership has already demonstrated a commitment to expanding the use of SAF and supporting airports and airlines in their quest to reduce their carbon emissions. Last year, Shell and SkyNRG began supplying SAF to European airlines KLM, Scandinavian Airlines and Finnair at San Francisco Airport (SFO). Additionally, they equipped Swedavia, the largest Swedish airport operator, to receive SAF at five of its airports.In each instance, the fuel, made from used cooking oil, was supplied by World Energy’s Paramount refinery in Los Angeles, currently the world’s only SAF refinery. Another typical feedstock used to produce SAF is solid waste such as packaging and food scraps from homes and businesses, as well as other sources found in nature including waste wood, residue from streams and algae. Generally, the use of sustainable feedstock in fuel production results in a 60-80% reduction in CO2 emissions over the lifecycle of the fuel compared to conventional jet fuel.

With the aviation industry still eyeing a 50% slash of its 2005 emission levels by 2050, Shell and SKYNRG’s projected 2022 commissioning of the DSL-01 production plant, in Delfzijl, Netherlands, represents a timely response to the mounting pressure on Europe to further its lead in creating more sustainable flight. According to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), an industry-wide body working to promote the aviation industry’s sustainable growth, worldwide flights produced 895 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018, accounting for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This month, at a gathering of aviation stakeholders in Berlin, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments in Europe to prioritize environmental protection in aviation.

A recent Union Bank of Switzerland survey of U.S. and European fliers found that one in five travelers had reduced the number of flights they took in the past year — in line with a growing “flight shaming” movement. Last week at the Fortune Global Forum in Paris, Air France CEO Anne Rigail acknowledged that the flight shaming movement, being led by Europe’s youth and environmental activists like 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, was the industry’s biggest challenge, being embraced even by members of her own household, according to Vox.

Maarten van Dijk, SkyNRG’s Managing Director, said of the SAF production plant project, “the shared ambitions and collaborative approach of the companies involved sends a strong signal to the rest of our industry of the actions required to deliver a sustainable future for aviation.

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