The Bonn, Germany-based integrator announced today (17DEC20) that it will be using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on freighter flights departing from Amsterdam. It is a pilot project jointly performed with London, UK-headquartered Shell Aviation. The supplier’s spokesperson, Ralph van Mook did not exclude that more airports and operators may follow.
Soon, DHL Express freighter aircraft will be powered by sustainable aviation fuel when flying from Amsterdam to East Midlands, Leipzig, and London Heathrow, which they do once a day. “It‘s the first time that we tap into SAF,” speaker Tim Rehkopf of DHL Express commented when asked by CargoForwarder Global. Just a few weeks ago, Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker launched an SAF freighter flight taking from Frankfurt to Shanghai and back (CFG - 29NOV20).
SAF needs to be transported to where it is needed
As to Amsterdam, Shell Aviation is the eco-friendly fuel supplier pacting with Finnish SAF provider Neste based on an agreement inked in September 2020. The Nordic firm is the world’s largest producer of SAF, refined from waste and residues. Amsterdam was chosen as pioneering airport because of its nearness to the North Sea, allowing the transport of large SAF quantities by boat. Ralph van Mook mentions additional criteria: The well-developed infrastructure and the fact that Shell is strongly represented in the Dutch city. The energy provider will store a volume representing a full year of DHL Express’s fuel requirements from Schiphol.
How much SAF can an aircraft turbine tolerate?
According to van Mook, aircraft turbines tolerate a 50/50% blend of fossil and sustainable fuel without suffering any damages. In his company’s press release, it is stated that SAF in its neat form and over the entire lifecycle, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil jet fuels. On long-haul flights, the reduction rate is lower in comparison, reaching 63%.
Regarding the mix of fossil and sustainable jet fuels, Mr. van Mook points to recommendations published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Under the entry D7566, it says that turbines tolerate a maximum blend of 50% fossil/SAF fuels. But even so, the Amsterdam advance is a major step to decarbonizing aviation, in this specific case: the cargo sector. Anna Mascolo, President of Shell Aviation, mentions the importance of the DHL deal in fighting climate change: “We’re proud to be working with DHL Express and supporting them in taking the next step in their decarbonization journey. (Our) agreement is an excellent example of how the cargo aviation sector can help accelerate aviation’s pathway to net-zero emissions by building demand as the fuel industry seeks to increase supply of SAF.”
Amazon, Amsterdam, Aviation and Net-Zero Emissions
Her company’s initiative follows similar steps taken in the USA: There, Shell Aviation and World Energy, LLC cooperate, supply Amazon Air’s cargo flights with up to six million gallons of blended SAF per year, thus reducing carbon emissions by up to 20%. On the occasion, Mrs. Mascolo reminds that “the pathway to net-zero emissions relies on collaboration across all CO₂ reduction measures. Critically, this is in combination with measures to reduce and offset emissions across Amazon.”
DHL Express has committed to achieving zero emissions by 2050, “to make our services green and sustainable for our customers. To fight against climate change, we need to reduce carbon emissions and leveraging the sustainable fuel solutions available today can play a critical role,” Alberto Nobis, CEO DHL Express Europe, states. The manager goes on to say: “Flying on SAF is an important step in our decarbonization journey, both for our operations and reducing the emissions footprint of transported goods for our customers. We look forward to working with Shell Aviation more closely in the future.”
That is music to the ears of Anna Mascolo and her team at Shell Aviation and equally good news for the environment.
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