Sustainable alternative fuels are rightly seen as one of the main ways of reducing net CO2 emissions in aviation. While many airlines have experimented with biofuel flights, one in particular is showing significant commitment with a strategic investment in alternative fuels.
In August 2014, Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways made a surprising move for an airline – investing directly in a new energy company. Fulcrum BioEnergy is a US-based developer which makes biojet fuel from municipal waste.
The fuel produced through this process will not only reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions by over 80%, but it will also prevent the municipal waste used being put into landfill sites and producing subsequent methane emissions.
As well as investing in the company itself, Cathay Pacific has drawn up a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum for an initial 1.42 billion litres of renewable jet fuel over ten years, which represents roughly 2% of the airline’s current total annual fuel usage. This significant investment – worth over $1 billion – is part of Cathay Pacific’s strategy to kick-start the alternative fuels business for aviation.
Fulcrum will begin to construct its first commercial plant later in 2015 and will build large-scale, waste-to-renewable jet fuel plants at multiple locations, including locations strategic to the Cathay Pacific network, primarily in North America.
The relationship between Cathay Pacific and Fulcrum is an example of how aviation as a whole can move forward and achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020.