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British Airways partners with Solena for greener good

Published:Wednesday | October 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM
British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh. - file

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer


British Airways announced Monday that it will partner with the bio-energy group Solena to establish Europe's first sustainable jet-fuel plant.

Addressing delegates at the Caribbean Tourism Organi-sation's inaugural Leadership Conference in Barbados, BA's Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh said the plant will convert 500,000 tonnes of waste per year into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel through a process that offers life cycle greenhouse gas.

It will carry savings of up to 95 per cent, compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene.

According to the BA official, this volume of fuel would be more than twice the amount required to make all their flights at nearby London City Airport carbon-neutral, "and we aim to begin using it from 2014".

Testing programme

Simultaneously with Rolls-Royce, the airline is planning a joint biofuel testing programme.

"We have just joined a project at Cranfield University which aims to develop a jet biofuel from algae. It is envisaged that the first commercial quantities of this product should be available within three years," revealed Walsh.

The first airline in the world to participate in carbon trading from as early as 1990, Walsh said the organisation had set itself targets of net CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, compared with 2005 levels.

"I believe there is great potential for aviation to reduce carbon emissions through alternative fuels. It is already clear that new aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and, particularly, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, offer significant reductions in emissions per seat. And the history of airframe and engine design suggests that the next generation of aircraft will be cleaner still."

Walsh noted that there were also obvious improvements to be made in the infrastructure of air-traffic control - to produce more efficient routings and reduce unnecessary flying.

"In Europe, we estimate the introduction of a Single European Sky could cut emissions by 12 per cent," he told the gathering.

On the cusp of celebrating the 65th anniversary of its first flight to the region, the airline currently serves more destinations in the Caribbean than any other European operator. And last year, despite the recession, more than half a million customers travelled on their flights here.