British Airways' biofuel plant cleared for takeoff in London

British Airways has secured a site for a state-of-the-art sustainable jet fuel facility in London, providing a key building block for the airline's efforts to secure "carbon neutral growth" from 2020.

BusinessGreen revealed in September that work would begin on the company's joint venture biofuel with Solena before the end of the year. British Airways announced late last week the GreenSky London initiative has signed an exclusive option on an as yet unnamed site for the facility and begun consent work.

When complete the site should be capable of turning around 500,000 tons of waste that would otherwise go to landfill into 50,000 tons of sustainable jet fuel each year.

The process uses Solena's high temperature gasification technology to produce a synthesis gas, which is then cleaned and converted into liquid hydrocarbons using British company Oxford Catalyst's patented Fischer-Tropsch reactors.

British Airways has committed $500 million to purchasing 10 years' supply of the fuel and joins Lufthansa, KLM, Virgin and several other large carriers experimenting with alternative fuels as oil prices spike.

Jonathon Counsell, Bristish Airway's head of environment, told BusinessGreen earlier in the year that by 2015 the plant could account for two percent of British Airway's fuel and produce the green fuel at a similar price to fossil fuels.

He added that if the plant proves to be successful, the company will look to build several facilities in the U.K. Dr Jeremy Tomkinson, chief executive at NNFCC, which has providing technical consultancy on the GreenSky project, said he expected many new plants to be built in the coming years.

"Biofuels are the only low carbon alternative to fossil fuels in the aviation sector and as a result GreenSky London is likely to be the first of many similar projects built in the years to come," he said. "Every new market needs a pioneer and it is pleasing to see the U.K. take a leading role in its development."

Photo of British Airways jet provided by Robert Sarosiek via Shutterstock. 

This article originally appeared on Business Green and is reprinted with permission.