Plans submitted for European waste to sustainable jet fuels plant

Altalto Immingham Limited, a subsidiary of Velocys and a collaboration with British Airways and Shell, has submitted a planning application to develop what the company says is expected to be Europe’s first commercial-scale household and solid waste to sustainable fuels plant.

The plant is planned to be developed in North East Lincolnshire, at a site near Immingham and close to the Humber Estuary. The plant would take over half a million tonnes each year of non-recyclable everyday waste – otherwise destined for landfill or incineration – and convert it into cleaner burning sustainable aviation fuel and road fuel.

Velocys Oklahoma plant

The technology, integrated by Velocys, enables a net 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for each tonne of sustainable jet fuel that displaces a tonne of conventional fuel. The company says the greenhouse gas reductions achieved from the plant’s annual output are equivalent to up to 40,000 standard size petrol engine cars.

The fuel is also expected to improve air quality, with up to 90% reduction in particulate matter (or soot) from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100% reduction in sulphur oxides; and the technology offers a lower emissions route to process UK waste than incineration or landfill.

“Velocys has a solution to decarbonise aviation fuel by converting an unwanted feedstock – household and commercial solid waste – to create a highly valuable product: sustainable transport fuels,” explained Henrik Warebon, CEO at Velocys. “This will cut greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, as well as improving air quality and helping to tackle our waste problem.”

Neville Hargreaves, vice-president, Waste to Fuels at Velocys told Regional Gateway: “The Altalto project will improve the UK’s fuel supply and resilience given the UK currently imports 70%+ of its jet fuel from abroad.

“Plants like this will give regional airports the opportunity to improve both the sustainability and the resilience of their supply.”

The partnership forms part of British Airways’ goal to develop long-term sustainable fuel options and the airline intends to purchase jet fuel produced at the plant for use in its aircraft. Alex Cruz, British Airways chairman and CEO said this marked a “major milestone” in the project, and called sustainable fuels “a game changer for aviation.”

He continued: “This development is an important step in the reduction of our carbon emissions and meeting the industry targets of carbon neutral growth from 2020, and a 50% in CO2 reduction by 2050 from 2005 levels. It also brings the UK another step closer to becoming a global leader in sustainable aviation fuels.”

The development is anticipated to bring hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, hundreds of jobs during construction, and approximately 130 permanent jobs to the region.

On the supply side, Velocys’ Hargreaves told Regional Gateway, “This is expected to be the first waste to jet fuel plant in Europe, and Velocys intends that this will be the first of many similar plants; once Velocys have set the blueprint, it becomes easier to follow. There is a large volume of waste available, and this is one of the least carbon-intensive ways of dealing with it.”

Calls for co-ordination

The International Airlines Group (IAG), parent company of British Airways, also called for the government to provide “the co-ordination necessary to progress development in the technology and improve fuel supply and resilience.”

Jonathon Counsell, head of sustainability at IAG said: “We strongly welcomed the inclusion of sustainable aviation fuels into the renewable transport fuels policy framework and call on Government to continue to provide support given the significant near-term opportunities offered by these fuels.

“Specifically, we strongly believe a dedicated Office for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (OSAF) will provide the essential cross-government co-ordination necessary to progress the development and commercial deployment of sustainable aviation fuel and would welcome Government support in setting this up at the earliest opportunity.”

Images: Velocys Oklahoma plant

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