Lufthansa Cargo and Kuehne+Nagel were present at the inauguration of the world’s first Power-to-Liquid (PtL) e-kerosene plant in Werlte, Northern Germany, on 04OCT21 (CFG reported), and formally announced their exclusive partnership to promote the unique CO2-neutral Power-to-Liquid (PtL) fuel. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) asked Dorothea von Boxberg (DvB) about what this new kind of fuel means for Lufthansa Cargo and its customers.
Located in the Emsland region of Lower Saxony, NGO atmosfair’s unique PtL plant will go into regular operation in early 2022, and produce 350 tons of syncrude per year, which is then refined into
Jet A1 fuel at the Heide refinery near Hamburg, and will be used to power Lufthansa aircraft flying out of Hamburg airport.
Lufthansa Cargo and Kuehne+Nagel are two of its first customers, and have pledged to purchase 25,000 liters (20 tons) of synthetic crude oil each year for at least the next five years. Despite the cost of this type of fuel being around 3-5 higher than conventional kerosene, they are committed to promoting and supporting PtL, since it is core to achieving CO2-neutral aviation. Both companies continuously seek to improve on their carbon footprints, and already use Sustainable Aviation Fuels of biogenic origin, such as synthetic kerosene based on used cooking oils, for example, however these are limited in their scalability. PtL, on the other hand, is produced from regeneratively generated electricity, water, and CO2, and though it is still being developed, prior industrial production, it is already seen as a long-term alternative to conventional or biogenic SAF, since it can be produced on a large scale.
Yngve Ruud, Member of the Management Board of Kuehne+Nagel, responsible for Air Logistics, says: “Already now, Kuehne+Nagel customers can avoid carbon emissions of their shipments globally with our bio SAF solutions, and I am delighted to see that the time has come for synthetic SAF as the long‐term solution for aviation. By securing the first power-to-liquid fuel production together with Lufthansa Cargo, we are sending a strong message of commitment and collaboration, inviting our industry colleagues and customers to join us in creating the low-carbon economy of the future already today.”
CFG: What does the opening of this PtL kerosene plant mean for Lufthansa Cargo and its customers, Dorothea von Boxberg?
DvB: Lufthansa Cargo is sourcing industrially produced PtL fuels (third-generation SAF) for the first time, thus supporting innovation and pioneering work in the market for sustainable fuels. Together with the non-profit climate protection organization atmosfair, we are thus promoting the market entry of industrially produced CO2-neutral PtL fuel, made in Germany. Despite a very high price per ton, we are promoting atmosfair's innovative approach and will purchase at least 20 tons of PtL fuel per year over the next five years.
We clearly see the key to a sustainable reduction of our emissions in flight operations, in the research and use of synthetic, sustainable aviation fuels. The fact that we are now pioneering power-to-liquid technology together with Kuehne+Nagel makes us particularly proud, and shows once again that we are actively tackling our climate protection challenges.
We have a long-standing and strong partnership with Kuehne+Nagel. We know that Kuehne+Nagel cares as much about sustainability as we do, and are therefore very pleased that we were able to gain them as a partner for this pioneering project.
CFG: What still needs to take place to make it possible for the Lufthansa Cargo fleet to switch completely to PtL? And how quickly could this be expected?
DvB: Currently, there is still considerably more Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) available, which is obtained from biogenic sources (e.g. from leftovers in food production). These quantities can also be further expanded and will be important for aviation. PtL is only at the very beginning of industrialization. Larger and more plants still need to be built. In the long run, however, PtL will be the largest source of sustainable fuel, though we are not expecting truly significant volumes until about 10 years from now. It will take much longer for biogenic fuels to become "obsolete."
CFG: Does this give Lufthansa Cargo an advantage over competing airlines?
DvB: We see ourselves as a pioneer in the field of sustainable aviation fuels. We have been active in the field of biogenic fuels for several years, and are very pleased to now also be a trailblazer for the innovative, power-to-liquid fuels. We know that it is important to our customers that we take concrete action to help them reduce their indirect CO2 emissions as well. This is made possible with our Sustainable Aviation Fuels offering. We already offer our customers CO2-neutral transport of shipments - from individual consignments to complete freighters - and have audited certificates for this. That puts us a little ahead of our competitors.
CFG: ICAO predicted in 2019, that "costs for PtL jet fuel are expected to be 3 to 5 times higher than costs for conventional fuel" - how do customers / the airline feel about these (future) costs today?
DvB: The costs are still many times more expensive than fossil kerosene. This is the first plant in the world to produce PtL for the first time. We are committed to increasing demand so that more such plants can be built. This would then also have a positive impact on the price. However, this requires the joint action of all parties involved: the airlines, forwarders, industry customers, and also politicians.
CFG: What other green actions can we expect from Lufthansa Cargo in 2021? And how well is the airline doing in its Sustainability Strategy implementation?
DvB: We have successfully implemented a number of concrete sustainability measures in recent months, such as the introduction of our Sustainable Choice add-on service, which enables all customers to transport their freight in a CO2-neutral manner. Or the rollover of our freighter fleet to the currently most efficient B777F freighter, which will be successfully completed with the two new additions last week and the retirement of the last MD-11 in a few days’ time. From 2022, we will also successively have all our freighters equipped with the innovative Sharkskin technology, enabling us to achieve further fuel savings. In addition, we are working continuously both on the ground and in flight operations to further reduce our carbon footprint.
Thank you, Dorothea von Boxberg.
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