KLM’s 1000-flight deal spawns Europe’s first dedicated aviation biofuel plant

May 28, 2019
KLM biofuel Europe
Photo: KLM

Aviation biofuel company SkyNRG will develop Europe’s first dedicated aviation biofuel plant after Dutch carrier KLM agreed to a 10-year contract to take 75,000 tonnes a year.

The deal will see a reduction in KLM’s annual CO2 emissions that is equivalent to 1,000 flights between Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro.

The partners said KLM was the first airline in the world to invest in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on this scale and the plant in Delfzijl, in the north-eastern Netherlands, would use regional waste such as cooking oil and industrial residue as feedstock.

READ: Proposed biofuel projects now half-way to commercialization tipping point.

The plant, scheduled to open in 2022, has also attracted investment from LPG distributor SHV ENergy and will specialize in producing aviation biofuel, bioLPG and naphtha.

The project has been dubbed DSL-01 by SkyNRG and highlights one of the key problems facing SAFs since their certification for use as drop-in fuels in aircraft engines: a lack of large-scale production facilities.

Airlines have already moved to reduce CO2 emissions by reducing weight, using more efficient routing and buying modern planes.

But aviation needs more biofuel to offset growth in the industry and reach its target of reducing CO2 emission to half of 2005 levels by 2050.

The industry has agreed to introduce a global carbon offset scheme, known as CORSIA, as an interim measure as it moves to convince governments and industry to ramp up biofuel production.

From 2022, DSL-01 will produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF as well as 15,000 tonnes of bioLPG as a by-product.

The partners estimate this will mean a CO2 reduction of 270,000 tonnes a year for the aviation industry.

The facility will run on sustainable hydrogen produced by using water and wind energy and will deliver a life-cycle C02 reduction of 85 percent compared to fossil fuel.

“By joining hands with other parties, we can build a plant that will accelerate the development of sustainable aviation fuel,’’ KLM chief executive Pieter Elbers said in the announcement.

“From 2022, the plant will produce 100,000 tonnes a year, of which KLM will purchase 75,000 tonnes. This will reduce our CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year, which is equal to the emissions released by 1,000 KLM flights between Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro.”

SkyNRG executive director Maarten van Dijk said the project was another milestone “in further upscaling the market for sustainable aviation fuel”.

“We are the first to take a step on this scale and we hope it will serve as an example to the rest of the industry in the transition towards a sustainable future for commercial aviation,” he said.