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SAS joins aviation, energy and academic leaders to accelerate development and availability of sustainable biofuels

September 25, 2008 09:00

Environmental groups applaud effort to develop sustainable fuel alternatives
SAS, with other leading air carriers, Boeing and Honeywell’s UOP, a refining technology developer, established a group to accelerate the development and commercialization of sustainable new aviation fuels.

With support and advice from the world’s leading environmental organizations, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group makes commercial aviation the first global transportation sector to voluntarily drive verifiable sustainability practices into its fuel supply chain.

The group’s charter is to enable the commercial use of renewable fuel sources that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while lessening commercial aviation’s exposure to oil price volatility and dependence on fossil fuels. Airlines supporting the sustainable fuels initiative include Air France, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Cargolux, Continental Airlines, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM, SAS Scandinavian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Collectively, they account for more than 15 percent of commercial jet fuel use.

“We welcome the aviation sector’s will to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and appreciate their efforts to ensure the sustainability of their biofuels sourcing,” says Jean-Philippe Denruyter, WWF Global Bioenergy Coordinator and Steering Board Member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. “By teaming up with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, the aviation sector can build on an existing solid multi-stakeholder process that will reinforce this initiative.”

All group members subscribe to a sustainability pledge stipulating that any sustainable biofuel must perform as well as, or better than, kerosene-based fuel, but with a smaller carbon lifecycle. The user’s group pledged to consider only renewable fuel sources with minimal impacts to the biosphere: fuels that require minimal land, water and energy to produce, and that don’t compete with food or fresh water resources. In addition, cultivation and harvest of plant stocks must provide socioeconomic value to the local communities.

“We have for many years been part of a number of research and development projects regardings renewable biofuels, with the aim to find a long-term solution for aviation,” says Niels Eirik Nertun, Environment Director, SAS Group. “We bring all this experience into this group and will now put all our focus on together finding durable and lasting solutions for the future.”

The group has announced two initial sustainability research projects. Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, through funding provided by Boeing, will conduct the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive sustainability assessment of jatropha curcas, to include lifecycle CO2 emissions and the socio-economic impacts to farmers in developing nations. Similarly, NRDC will conduct a comprehensive assessment of algae to ensure it meets the group’s stringent sustainability criteria.

Both species may potentially become part of a portfolio of biomass-based renewable fuel solutions that, through advanced fuel processing methodologies developed by energy sector leaders such as UOP, can help aviation diversify its fuel supply.

“One of the SAS Group’s six environmental goals is to be amongst the first airlines to include renewable biofuel for commercial flights. This is in line with our already released environmental strategy, which includes halving our greenhouse gas emission per passenger kilometer by 2020. Now we are one step closer to realizing our environmental goals,” says Niels Eirik Nertun.

SAS Group Corporate Communications

For further information, please contact
Niels Eirik Nertun, Environment Director SAS Group +47 9571 7812
SAS press office +46 8 797 33030

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