Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 17-Jun-2021

This CAPA report features a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news, selected from the 300+ news alerts published daily by CAPA. For more information, please contact us.

IAG Cargo commenced (06-Sep-2022) trialling the first electric terminal tractor, known as a Terberg YT203EV, at London Heathrow Airport.

This is the first electric Terberg operating airside worldwide.

IAG Cargo is trialling the electric Terberg YT203EV for 12 months, with the ambition to transition its current diesel fleet to more sustainable alternatives, including electric.

In the coming years the trial will help IAG Cargo and its partners understand the challenges the business may face when adopting an electric airside fleet, how future electric vehicles could be charged and what additional infrastructure will be needed to support a fleet of electric terminal tractors. [more – original PR]

Original report: IAG Cargo trials first electric terminal tractor at London Heathrow airport

  • The electric terminal tractor known as a Terberg YT203EV, carries unit loading devices (ULDs) that tows goods for air transportation
  • IAG Cargo is trialling this innovative electric Terberg YT203EV for 12 months with the ambition to replace all current terminal tractors in the near future
  • This is the first electric Terberg YT203EV operating airside worldwide

IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group (IAG) has begun to trial the first electric terminal tractor, known as a Terberg YT203EV, at London Heathrow airport. This is the first electric Terberg operating airside worldwide.

By replacing an existing terminal tractor with an electric Terberg, approximately 30 tonnes of CO2 will be saved per vehicle per year – this is the equivalent of planting over 1 million trees or taking more than 6,000 cars off the road.1

Terberg has been creating electric vehicles since 2014 with the team constantly revising the designs. The latest vehicles can deliver the same capability as the current diesel units in a more environmentally sustainable way, allowing drivers to carry out their work pattern whilst avoiding diesel engine emissions. In addition to its electric solution, Terberg are also exploring the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, having placed a unit in to test on an off-airfield application. This additional environmentally friendly solution will afford Terberg customers such as IAG Cargo further options to achieve their environmental goals.

IAG Cargo is trialling the electric Terberg YT203EV for 12 months, with the ambition to transition its current diesel fleet to more sustainable alternatives, including electric. In the coming years the trial will help IAG Cargo and its partners understand the challenges the business may face when adopting an electric airside fleet, how future electric vehicles could be charged and what additional infrastructure will be needed to support a fleet of electric terminal tractors.

David Rose, Chief Transformation Officer at IAG Cargo commented: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Terberg to trial the first electric Terberg at London Heathrow – this is an exciting advancement for IAG Cargo as we strive to lead on sustainability and be fit for future.

“We are continuously looking at ways that reduce our impact on the environment whilst improving our customer offering. This trial is part of a wider effort supporting our commitment to making IAG Cargo, and the wider industry, more sustainable. “

Alisdair Couper, Manager Director at Terberg added: “This is another step towards reducing air cargo’s impact on the environment and so we’re thrilled to work with IAG Cargo to see the first electric Terberg already in action at London Heathrow airport.”

Westpac announced (06-Sep-2022) a landmark finance deal with North Queensland Airports, with a sustainability linked loan (SLL).

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank both assisted with the arrangement of the sustainability linked loan.

Westpac head of sustainable finance Eliza Mathews stated: “North Queensland Airport‘s sustainability linked loan is one of the very first such loans in the Australian market to address biodiversity and natural capital”.

The loan includes a biodiversity target focused on species conservation.

The loan includes key performance indicators which incentivise the airport operator to enhance the habitat surrounding Cairns Airport and help save threatened wildlife, in partnership with the local Yirrganydji people.

If the loan KPIs are reached, along with others tailored to emissions reductions and Indigenous engagement, North Queensland Airports will be rewarded with a lower interest rate.

Conversely, a higher rate will apply if they’re missed.

Cairns Airport said work towards the loan’s biodiversity goal is an extension of projects already underway to rejuvenate the 350 hectare stretch of mangroves within the airport’s land holdings, in partnership with the Yirrganydji Land and Sea Rangers, a programme run by the local Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation.

The mangroves support a wide range of species, some of which are at risk of extinction.

The area also forms a natural barrier to erosion and king tides, sequesters carbon efficiently and has immense cultural value to local First Nations people.

North Queensland Airports environmental manager Lucy Friend said part of the airport’s environmental strategy has involved leading major restoration works on a community boardwalk through the mangroves.

She says the restored boardwalk, which had been closed by council in 2019 due to safety concerns, allows easy access to the mangroves for scientists, community members and traditional custodians, facilitating research into habitat rejuvenation.

This includes studies into its role as a “blue carbon” ecosystem, absorbing atmospheric carbon up to 50 times faster than forests that would otherwise contribute to climate change.

The SLL’s other sustainability targets include the reduction of Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, as well as a requirement to measure and reduce Scope 3 emissions.

The structure also supports improved opportunities for First Nations peoples by prioritising procurement from contractors with a defined percentage of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander employees. [more – original PR] [more – original PR – II] [more – original PR – III]

Original report: Landmark deal to see Cairns Airport boost biodiversity

A landmark finance deal puts North Queensland Airports – the owner of Cairns and Mackay Airports – at the forefront of a global wave of sustainable finance aimed at “nature positive” outcomes.

North Queensland Airport’s sustainability linked loan is one of the very first such loans in the Australian market to address biodiversity and natural capital,” says Eliza Mathews, head of sustainable finance at Westpac which acted as joint sustainability coordinator for the transaction.

The loan includes key performance indicators which incentivise the airport operator to enhance the habitat surrounding Cairns Airport and help save threatened wildlife, in partnership with the local Yirrganydji people. 

If the loan KPIs are hit – along with others tailored to emissions reductions and Indigenous engagement – North Queensland Airports will be rewarded with a lower interest rate. Conversely, a higher rate will apply if they’re missed.

North Queensland Airports chief executive, Richard Barker, says wrapping biodiversity targets into a financing structure makes good business sense and provides additional motivation for his organisation to deliver on its environmental promises. 

Cairns Airport plays an important role as a gateway to Queensland’s world heritage areas – the tropical rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef – and also remote parts of the far north of the state,” Barker says. 

“We have a role to play in protecting the pristine environment in which we operate. We can’t just rely on the government to do these types of projects.

“By actually linking our environmental targets into our refinancing, it really commits us as an organisation to deliver on what we say, not only around reducing our emissions, but to actively encourage the regeneration of biodiversity in this area.”

Restoration of a boardwalk through mangroves near Cairns Airport will help efforts to rejuvenate biodiversity in the area. (Emma Foster)

Mathews expects the airport’s pioneering financing move to be swiftly followed by similar transactions in Australia, as more corporate borrowers and lenders around the world look to lift efforts to improve the state of nature, in the same vein as the past decade’s global push to get greenhouse gas emissions down to net-zero. 

“Generally speaking, the focus on natural capital is about 10 years behind climate, but it’s not going to take 10 years to catch up,” she says. 

The impetus is coming on many fronts, driven by regulatory, stakeholder and market pressures, as warnings grow louder about the steep economic impact ahead if nature’s current decline is not halted.

Degradation of the world’s natural ecosystems is estimated to represent an annual loss of at least US$479 billion per year according to the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum says US$44 trillion of economic value generation – over half the world’s total GDP – is potentially at risk due to the dependence of business on nature and its services, at a time of unprecedented decline, with nearly 1 million species facing extinction. 

It’s a threat well known in Australia. The annual State of the Environment report released in July by the federal government showed the past five years have seen an alarming rise in threatened species, land clearing, extreme weather events and destruction of Indigenous heritage.

The growing urgency to address these risks prompted the emergence last year of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures – or TNFD. Just as the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures – or TCFD – has risen to prominence as a global framework for lenders to disclose – and, so, address – climate related risks, the TNFD is taking shape as a tool to direct capital to better care for nature, whether that’s improving soil quality, the health of oceans or biodiversity. The TNFD released draft reporting guidelines in March, and obligations are slated to kick off in September next year. 

“As a result, I expect to see more companies starting to look at natural capital, accounting for it and focusing their own sustainability efforts to improve in that area,” says Mathews, noting she’s seeing a “step-change” in ambition of target setting among clients.

“And if you think about the purpose of sustainable finance, it’s to help support a company to achieve its sustainability goals. So, we expect to see a growing number of financing transactions incorporating KPIs to address natural capital and biodiversity.”

The chief executive of Cairns Airport says work towards the loan’s biodiversity goal is an extension of projects already underway to rejuvenate the 350-hectare stretch of mangroves within the airport’s land holdings, in partnership with the Yirrganydji Land and Sea Rangers – a program run by the local Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation. The mangroves support a wide range of species, some of which are at risk of extinction. The area also forms a natural barrier to erosion and king tides, sequesters carbon efficiently and has immense cultural value to local First Nations people. 

“Our ancestors, our Elders, used to roam, hunt and gather, collect, and camp around these areas where the airport runways are now, so this is a very special place for our people,” says senior Yirrganydji ranger Brian Singleton. 

While local traditional custodians haven’t had access to the area for many generations, Singleton says the partnership formed between the rangers and Cairns Airport to rejuvenate the habitat have seen cultural knowledge begin to return.

“The ability to bring our Elders into places like this has been really important for them to start sharing knowledge about how we used to look after country, and one of the first things is to protect the mangroves and work together to start managing some of those protected species,” he says.

“Integrating traditional knowledge and science together is really the key to managing the area.”

North Queensland Airports environmental manager, Lucy Friend, says part of the airport’s environmental strategy has involved leading major restoration works on a community boardwalk through the mangroves. She says the restored boardwalk, which had been closed by council in 2019 due to safety concerns, allows easy access to the mangroves for scientists, community members and traditional custodians, facilitating research into habitat rejuvenation. This includes studies into its role as a “blue carbon” ecosystem, sucking in atmospheric carbon up to 50 times faster than forests that would otherwise contribute to climate change. 

“We’ve used the boardwalk to get out into those really muddy areas and we’re looking at how much carbon is stored – in the mud and also in the trees – and looking at the mangroves’ contribution to combating climate change,” says Friend.

Mathews says these initiatives reflect the strong interlinkages between the three sets of key performance indicators – targeting emissions reductions, biodiversity enhancement and Indigenous engagement – structured into North Queensland Airport’s sustainability linked loan, which she sees as ground-breaking. 

“It’s great to be able to partner with clients like North Queensland Airports to help achieve those goals through sustainable finance.”

Stuttgart Airport introduces measures to reduce energy consumption

Stuttgart Airport initiated (01-Sep-2022) measures to reduce its energy consumption, in line with Germany‘s new energy saving ordinance which became effective on 01-Sep-2022.

Measures include temperature and ventilation adjustments, limitation of the hot water supply in the terminals, reduced illuminated advertising and the absence of illuminated Christmas decorations. [more – original PR – German]

Original report: Energieeinsparverordnung: Leuchtwerbung wird eingeschränkt – Keine Weihnachtsbele

Energieeinsparverordnung: Leuchtwerbung wird eingeschränkt – Keine Weihnachtsbeleuchtung in den Terminals

Die Flughafen Stuttgart GmbH (FSG) hat bereits erste Schritte eingeleitet, um weiter Energie einzusparen. So werden bei Gebäuden Temperatur und Belüftung angepasst und Warmwasser in den Terminals nur noch dort bereitgestellt, wo es absolut nötig ist.

Mit der neuen Energieeinsparverordnung des Bundes gelten ab dem 01. September weitere neue Regeln beim Energieeinsparen. So soll unter anderem der Betrieb beleuchteter Werbeanlagen eingeschränkt werden, es sei denn, sie dienen der Verkehrssicherheit. Am Flughafen Stuttgart bleiben viele Leuchtwerbungen über Nacht dunkel. Dazu gehören zum Beispiel große Leuchtwerbeanlagen an Parkhäusern und anderen Gebäuden. Ebenfalls eingespart wird der traditionelle Leuchtschmuck in den Terminals zu Weihnachten. Dort wurden bislang die bekannten Stahlbäume in den Terminals mit rund 240.000 LED-Leuchten umwickelt, für eine stimmungsvolle Atmosphäre im Advent.

Electra.aero completes test of hybrid-electric propulsion system for eSTOL aircraft

Electra.aero completed (07-Sep-2022) a fully integrated test of the hybrid-electric propulsion system for its electric short take off and landing (eSTOL) aircraft.

The hybrid system uses a combination of battery packs and a turbogenerator to power eight electric motors and propellers.

Testing was conducted at Electra’s propulsion development facility in Switzerland.

The hybrid system is being integrated into a piloted technology demonstrator aircraft to test take off and landing performance and fuel burn.

The technology was developed for Electra’s nine passenger eSTOL aircraft and will be scaled to larger aircraft.

The eSTOL aircraft is designed to use hydrogen and battery-electric propulsion systems once the technologies are commercially viable.

Electra is exploring green hydrogen with its partner Plug Power. [more – original PR]

Original report: Electra Completes Test of Low-Emissions Hybrid eSTOL Aircraft Engine

Electra.aero, Inc. (“Electra”), a next-gen aerospace company with a mission to help decarbonize aviation and open new air transportation markets, has successfully completed a fully integrated test of the proprietary hybrid-electric propulsion system for its low-carbon emissions, electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft, moving Electra closer to leveraging its hybrid engine technology to significantly reduce aircraft emissions, noise, and operating costs. 

Electra Completes Test of Low-Emissions Hybrid eSTOL Aircraft Engine

The hybrid system is being integrated into Electra’s piloted technology demonstrator aircraft, to demonstrate and test Electra’s eSTOL ultra-short takeoff and landing performance and fuel burn savings. The technology was first developed for Electra’s 9-passenger eSTOL aircraft and will later be scaled to larger aircraft.

Hybrid-electric propulsion is Electra’s first step on a path to zero-emissions air mobility, used initially as it is the only sustainable technology that can meet range requirements for the regional air mobility market. Electra’s eSTOL aircraft is designed so that hydrogen and battery-electric propulsion systems can be used in the future when those technologies are commercially viable. To support these long-range goals, Electra is exploring green hydrogen with its partner Plug Power (NASDAQ: PLUG), the leading provider of hydrogen fuel cell turnkey solutions.

“Tightly coupling airframe and propulsion systems is the hallmark of Electra’s unique and scalable approach to providing net-zero emissions for regional and transport-category aircraft by 2050,” noted JP Stewart, Electra’s VP and General Manager. “Electra’s eSTOL aircraft uses this patent-pending technology for the urban and regional aircraft market, allowing a reduction of the 5 billion tons of CO2 created by inefficient ground transport in personal cars every year.”  

Testing of the hybrid-electric system took place at Electra’s propulsion development facility in Switzerland. Electra’s hybrid system uses a combination of high-power battery packs and a turbogenerator to power eight electric motors and propellers.

Enviva and Alder Fuels sign contract for supply of biomass for SAF production

Enviva and Alder Fuels signed (06-Sep-2022) a contract for the long term, large scale supply of woody biomass from Enviva to further commercialise the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Enviva will be an exclusive supplier of up to 750,000 tonnes p/a of sustainably sourced woody biomass to Alder’s first Alder Greencrude (AGC) production facility in the US.

The supply of feedstock is expected to commence in 2024. AGC can be refined into SAF using existing infrastructure and is supported by AvFuel, BoeingHoneywell UOP, United Ventures, the US Defense Logistics Agency, US Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

United Airlines has committed to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF from Alder Fuels, when produced to the airline’s requirements.

Enviva president Thomas Meth commented: “Abundant sustainable biomass conversion to energy-dense, drop-in liquid fuels is essential to accelerating the current global transition to a low-carbon economy”. [more – original PR]

Original report: Alder Fuels and Enviva Partner to Further Scale and Commercialize Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Alder Fuels and Enviva Partner to Further Scale and Commercialize Sustainable Aviation Fuel Supply Chains

ENVIVA INC. AND ALDER FUELS

Enviva Inc. (NYSE: EVA), the world’s leading producer of sustainably sourced woody biomass, and Alder Fuels, a clean tech developer and greencrude producer, have signed a contract for the long-term, large-scale supply of woody biomass from Enviva, which sources low-value fiber, such as forest byproducts like tree tops, limbs, and commercial thinnings, to further commercialize the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

“Abundant sustainable biomass conversion to energy-dense, drop-in liquid fuels is essential to accelerating the current global transition to a low-carbon economy”

Today’s agreement would make Enviva an exclusive supplier of up to 750,000 metric tons per year of sustainably sourced woody biomass to Alder’s first Alder Greencrude (AGC) production facility, soon to be under construction in the southeastern United States. The supply of sustainably sourced woody biomass feedstock by Enviva is expected to commence in 2024, which will meet rigorous sustainability criteria, subject to independent, third-party audits and certifications.

Backed by Honeywell UOP, United Ventures, AvFuel, Boeing, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, AGC can be refined using existing infrastructure into low-carbon to carbon-negative SAF that matches petroleum-based equivalents on specification and performance.

Bryan Sherbacow, Alder Fuels’ President & CEO, commented, “Decarbonization of our entire economy is driving massive demand for the next generation of sustainably sourced renewable fuels. The size of the market for our product is equal to the petroleum market it replaces. With AGC technology, the challenge of meeting this demand is no longer industry willpower or commercial interest; it is having ready access to diverse, highly accredited, and sustainably produced sources of biomass. Today’s announcement brings us one step closer towards achieving that aim, while benefiting the communities in which we operate.”

The announcement represents a major milestone in the rapid acceleration and scaling up of low-carbon transportation fuels with the potential to fundamentally change the future of flying and other modes of transport over time. In March 2021, major U.S. airlines committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which was reinforced by an announcement in October 2021 by the world’s airlines and aviation community. Recognizing the scaling up of SAF is critical to meeting such aggressive climate goals, the White House launched the “SAF Grand Challenge,” with goals to have 3 billion gallons of SAF produced in the U.S. by 2030 and augmenting to 35 billion gallons by 2050. The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law amplifies the U.S. commitment to SAF by providing tax credits for every gallon of SAF produced based on lifecycle greenhouse gas emission reduction percentages. Further, the IRA extends and modifies the tax credit for the production of renewable energy from biomass and other technologies.

Europe is pursuing similar policy initiatives such as ReFuelEU, with the European Parliament voting in support of draft rules to require SAF to account for at least 85 percent of European Union (EU) aviation fuel by 2050. Similarly, the United Kingdom announced the introduction of a SAF mandate, requiring at least 10 percent of jet fuel to be produced sustainably by 2030.

Major U.S. airlines have been seeking opportunities to collaborate with other industries to deliver commercial solutions to sustainable aviation at scale, with such initiatives accelerating over the past two years as they individually, and collectively, committed to becoming carbon neutral. In fact, United Airlines has already committed to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF from Alder Fuels when produced to the airline’s requirements. United Airlines’ commitment represents purchasing more than twice as much SAF as the rest of the world’s airlines combined.

“Abundant sustainable biomass conversion to energy-dense, drop-in liquid fuels is essential to accelerating the current global transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Thomas Meth, President of Enviva. “This joint effort between Enviva and Alder Fuels enables sourcing of sustainable wood fiber and industry-leading technology to deliver the feedstock flexibility and commercialization of SAF needed to achieve jet fuel decarbonization at scale.”

All woody biomass feedstock supplied by Enviva to Alder Fuels will continue to adhere to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive’s requirements, as well as Enviva’s industry-leading Responsible Sourcing Policy. In addition, Enviva and Alder Fuels have committed to collaborating to gain sustainability certification under the internationally renowned Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials standard. These guidelines and conditions are further supported by Enviva’s industry-leading Track & Trace® program that provides detailed, verifiable, and independently audited data about the sustainability of Enviva’s sourcing activities and the journey its feedstocks take from the forest tract to the production plant to customers around the globe.

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