Environment 71 Stories

Biofuel because...

Published

20th Feb, 2015

One of the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions from air transport is by powering aircraft with sustainable biofuel. If biofuel were to be broadly used, the reduction in CO2 could be as high as 80%. That means biofuel is more sustainable than the standard fossil fuel currently used in air transport.

The biofuel market is in the early stages of development, production is not yet consistent and prizes fluctuate widely. In 2013, the price of biofuel was six times higher than that of kerosene, whereas in 2015 the price is expected to be only two or three time higher. In short, things are moving in the right direction, but there is still a lot to be done.

Smart Energy

One of the spearheads of KLM’s corporate social responsibility drive is to reduce our ecological footprint. Under the banner “Smart Energy”, KLM aims to reduce CO2 emissions per passenger by 20% in 2020 (compared to 2011). Stimulating the development of biofuel is one aspect of this effort. We are constantly seeking ways to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment, with technical measures such as fleet renewal and more efficient flight operations. Because no new breakthroughs in the development of solar energy and energy storage (batteries) are anticipated in the near future, flying on sustainable biofuel is the best alternative. It will make the biggest contribution to reducing our CO2 emissions.

Proving it is possible

As early as 2009, KLM already began operating flights using a mixture of sustainable biofuel and kerosene. There are various reasons why it is not yet possible to operate flights using 100% biofuel. We are striving to further stimulate production, but cannot do this alone and are therefore working with partners, including the government, businesses and suppliers. To this end, we teamed up with Spring Associates and ARGOS (formerly North Sea Petroleum) to establish the joint venture SkyNRG in 2010. It is SkyNRG’s ambition to be the leader in the global market for sustainable biofuel. We are also striving to broaden the market. The KLM Corporate Biofuel Programme is one way in which we are joining hands with businesses to further stimulate the market for sustainable biofuel.

What is the KLM Corporate Biofuel Programme?

The KLM Corporate Biofuel Programme enables businesses to ensure that some of their corporate travel is undertaken using sustainable biofuel. Participants pay a surcharge that covers the difference in cost between biofuel and traditional kerosene. This surcharge is fully used for the purchase of sustainable biofuel. In addition, KLM is investing in the technical and market development of biofuel. In this way, we work together towards a single goal.

Setting an example

Climate change affects us all. This view is shared by all of the participating partners in the
KLM Corporate Biofuel Programme: Accenture, Heineken, ABN AMRO, Schiphol Group, FrieslandCampina, Amsterdam Muncipality, CBRE, Loyens & Loeff, PGGM, Perfetti van Melle and FMO. We are pleased that these businesses share our vision. In so doing, they confirm their leadership and actively contribute to making air transport more sustainable. We hope that other organisations will follow their example.

(For further information about the KLM Corporate Biofuel Programme, please contact Stijn van de Laar, Sales Manager – Business Market, KLM Netherlands. Email: Stijn-van-de.Laar@KLM.com)

How does the programme work?

SkyNRG and other suppliers provide KLM with the sustainable biofuel that has been reserved. At present, that volume is increasing gradually and flights operated on biofuel are separately refuelled. In due course, we intend to pump the sustainable biofuel directly into the central fuel system at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The sustainable biofuel programme would then work in much the same way as the supply of green electricity. In short, other airlines would also be supplied with a mixture of sustainable biofuel and kerosene. It bears mentioning that none of the participating or supplying parties are benefitting financially from the programme.

Sustainable biofuel

Biofuel can be made from a variety of raw materials. KLM only uses sustainable biofuels that are made from raw materials that have no impact on biodiversity and food security. KLM has strict principles regarding the sustainability criteria that its biofuel must meet. To ensure that we purchase truly sustainable biofuel, we follow the advice of the SkyNRG Sustainability Board, which includes representatives from the World Wide Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL), the Copernicus Institute of Utrecht University and Solidaridad. We also strive to further stimulate the rollout of certified processes among suppliers under auspices of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). This organisation guarantees the highest possible standards in social circumstances and environmental considerations in biofuel production.

An eye for nature and the future

WWF-NL and KLM became partners in 2007. WWF’s long-term vision is that fully sustainable energy provision can be achieved by 2050, with businesses playing a key role. WWF has therefore chosen to team up with companies that are acknowledged market leaders in the area of sustainability. They focus on partners that are capable of inspiring entire sectors, leading by example. The aim is to jointly seek solutions that make a concrete contribution to the protection and conservation of our natural environment worldwide. The focal point of cooperation with KLM is therefore the reduction of CO2 emissions and the development of the market for sustainable biofuels. In addition, WWF-NL advises KLM on the use of sustainable fish and inflight catering products made with responsibly produced palm oil and soya. In exchange, KLM offers financial and communications support for WWF’s conservation efforts in the Coral Triangle, Bonaire and various projects in the Amazon.

The role of passengers

Passengers can also contribute to reducing CO2 emissions of their flight by way of the CO2ZERO programme. Since 2008, this programme has enabled passengers to calculate and compensate for CO2 emissions from their KLM flight. In so doing, they support renewable energy projects that have earned the Gold Standard Seal of Approval. Thanks to the support of passengers and our partner organisations and businesses, we can join hands in making air transport more sustainable.

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