The use of sustainable alternative jet fuel was given another boost today as JetBlue announced its intention to start using renewable energy source for flights from New York from 2019 in a decade-long off-take agreement. The airline announced a ten-year renewable jet fuel purchase agreement with SG Preston, a bioenergy company.
The airline is partnering with SG Preston to purchase renewable jet fuel made from rapidly renewable, bio-based feedstocks that do not compete with food production. This marks one of the largest renewable jet fuel purchase agreements in aviation history, and the largest, long-term, binding commitment by any airline globally for HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) based renewable jet fuel.
To launch the strategic relationship with SG Preston, JetBlue plans to purchase more than 33 million gallons of blended jet fuel per year for at least 10 years. The fuel will consist of 30 percent renewable jet fuel blended with 70 percent traditional Jet-A fuel. The renewable jet fuel portion produced from select plant oils is targeted to achieve a 50% or higher reduction in greenhouse gases emissions per gallon based on a life-cycle analysis.
For nearly 100 years, planes have run on fossil fuels. Investments in renewable energy sources are key to a lower carbon future. Renewable jet fuel is produced from biological resources, like plant matter, which can be replenished rapidly and without impacting food supply.
Compared to traditional petroleum-based Jet-A fuel, renewable options can significantly reduce emissions, including pollutants related to air quality as well as net greenhouse gases. Renewable jet fuel is chemically equivalent to conventional Jet-A fuel, and poses no discernable difference in performance or safety.
“The future of aviation relies in part on renewable energy sources. We’re taking a leadership role in technology and other advancements including renewable jet fuels,” said Robin Hayes, president and chief executive officer, JetBlue. “JetBlue is preparing for a world where we must reduce our production of greenhouse gases. With this in mind, we have executed one of the largest renewable jet fuel purchase agreements. This is just one step of many in our work towards a lower carbon future.”
The Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, Michael Gill, said: “JetBlue is joining a group of industry-leading airlines which are taking the bold, but smart choice to put themselves at the forefront of our sector’s climate action. They should be warmly congratulated for making that choice. We have demonstrated that aviation can collaborate to improve efficiency and indeed a flight you take today will produce around half the CO2 that the same flight would have in 1990. This has been achieved with the introduction of new technology aircraft and improvements in operational and infrastructure efficiency.”
“Whilst we continue to deploy those methods, we also need to look towards the future. In the coming weeks, governments will hopefully support a global agreement on capping aviation’s next CO2 emissions from 2020 through an offsetting scheme for international aviation – the world’s first for any global sector. For the long-term, sustainable aviation fuels will play a fundamental role. Whilst the quantity of sustainable alternative jet fuel currently being used by airlines is small, this is a relatively recent development for aviation and it is encouraging to see more and more airlines playing a leadership role in getting this new energy source into daily operation.”
Following eight years of exhaustive testing and certification processes, in February this year, Oslo Airport become the first to supply airlines with alternative fuels for regular daily flights. Los Angeles Airport soon followed and today’s news will ensure that John F Kennedy and other New York airports also come on stream from 2019. The industry anticipates further similar announcements to follow in the near future.