Shell to support Europe's first sustainable aviation fuel plant

Refueling of the airplane before flight, aircraft maintenance fuel at the airport

Shell's aviation fuel arm is to support Europe's first dedicated sustainable aviation fuel production plant in the Netherlands, the oil giant announced Nov. 14.

Shell is to provide technical and commercial expertise to the plant, which is expected to become operational in 2022. It is designed to produce 100,000 metric tons of fuel a year, resulting in a reduction in lifecycle CO2 equivalent emissions of about 270,000 metric tons.

The plant will also produce naphtha, and 15,000 metric tons of bioLPG each year as a by-product. SkyNRG, which will run the plant, was founded by airline Royal Dutch KLM, consultants Spring Associates and EME in a bid to develop the embryonic market for sustainable aviation fuels.

Its advisors include WWF International, the European Climate Foundation, Solidaridad Network and the University of Groningen.

The plant is set to produce fuel made from waste and residue streams, such as used cooking oil sourced from regional industries. The facility will run on hydrogen, manufactured locally in the Groningen Seaport.

The combined benefits of the feedstocks, hydrogen and use of low carbon energy to power production will reduce the fuel's lifecycle carbon emissions by about 85 percent compared with conventional jet fuels, according to estimates from certification body the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.

In return for its support, Shell Aviation will secure the option to buy fuel produced at the facility, the company said.

Anna Mascolo, vice president of Shell Aviation, said: "When it comes to carbon emissions, the aviation industry needs collaboration among industry players, it needs support to drive technical innovation and investments, and last but not least it needs a multiple set of solutions that help drive a faster transition to a net zero emissions world."

The SkyNRG project is one of a number of jet biofuel projects that are under development around the world. For example, in the United Kingdom, Shell and airline BA have invested in a planned biorefinery plant in Lincolnshire.

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