Norwegian forests can mean climate bonus for air travel

- Oslo, Norway
A new report concludes that Norwegian forests could support large-scale production of biofuels. "If we succeed, it will mean a massive contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel in Norway,", says Avinor CEO, Dag Falk-Petersen.

The report, commissioned by Avinor and written by Rambøll, states that it could be financially and technologically possible to set up large-scale production of biofuels in Norway, at prices which can compete with the fossil fuels in current use. Avinor signed a Letter of Intent with Viken Skog on 23 April to invest in an innovation centre, tasked with looking into the industrial opportunities which biofuel production may represent for air travel.

Avinor is prepared to invest up to NOK 100 million over a 10 year period into various projects and studies which could help realise biofuel production for the Norwegian air travel industry.

Major potential
"The technology and resources are available and flights using biofuel as an additive are commonplace, but there are still a number of problems related to production costs and climate impact which have to be resolved. Even so, the potential for biofuel production from Norwegian forests is so big, that Avinor wants to play an active role in finding effective, sustainable solutions," states Falk-Petersen.

He emphasises that an important criterion for starting up large-scale production of biofuels will be that the fuel itself and the production process must have a proven climatic benefit.
Discount schemes can be introduced
Avinor also envisages a number of incentives for airlines who want to start using biofuel. One method is to offer discounts to encourage use.

Looking for viable alternatives
"Norwegian is very interested in new initiatives for the development of biofuels. We look forward to the day when it will be readily available at competitive prices. The most important thing airlines can do to reduce emissions is to invest in more environmental-friendly aircraft, and to fill our tanks with biofuels.  The problem at this time is that biofuel is difficult to get and very expensive. That means that the industry's biggest challenge is find sustainable, cost-effective solutions which make environment-friendly fuels a viable alternative to fossil fuels," says Norwegian CEO, Bjørn Kjos.

Promising report
"We are delighted that this report shows that it can be commercially viable to produce fuels based on renewable, Norwegian sources. We have been in dialogue with a number of suppliers since the early 2000s, and taken part in a large number of initiatives. We're ready to use biofuels, but the price has to be commercially acceptable - and sustainability criteria have to be met, so that we can reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions of the air travel industry significantly. In the short term, we have already succeeded in developing more environmental-friendly planes, ongoing modifications and a number of other fuel-saving measures," adds Rickard Gustafson, CEO at SAS.

Want the authorities on board
Even though the air travel industry is coming up with its own incentives, The Federation of Norwegian Aviation Industries (NHO Luftfart) stress that other sources of influence are needed to realise the opportunities offered by biofuels produced from Norwegian forests.

"The Norwegian air travel industry needs to encourage industry and the authorities to help with the pioneering work needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from air travel. The airlines also want long-term deals for the purchase of biofuels if the price is competitive. Together, such factors open up major industrial opportunities for the Norwegian forestry industry," says Torbjørn Lothe, NHO Luftfart.

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