Flying from Spain to the US can be a lot greener with biofuel!

by Lorraine Williamson
biofuel flight

MADRID – The Spanish oil company Repsol and the airline Iberia will start operating the first long-haul flights using biofuel. This will happen on three flights between Madrid and the United States. The biofuel is produced in Spain from waste that is unfit for human consumption. 

This initiative is part of the cooperation agreement for more sustainable mobility signed by Repsol and Iberia last July. Furthermore, it is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by the United Nations through Agenda 2030.  

Fuel from waste 

Both companies have been working together on the AVIATOR project to analyse the impact of aviation emissions on air quality at airports. In addition, in November they operated the first Madrid-Bilbao flight using sustainable fuel from waste. And in January this year Iberia joined the SHYNE (Spanish Hydrogen Network) consortium. This is led by Repsol to accelerate the development of green hydrogen in Spain.  

In addition, the strategic agreement between Repsol and Iberia includes a roadmap for the promotion of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in the coming years. With the flights carried out, Iberia and Repsol are anticipating the measures imposed by the European Union, through the ‘Fit For 55’ package, to use 2% renewable aviation fuel by 2025. Flights to Washington, Dallas and San Francisco are already equipped with 2% biofuel. 

Strong reduction of emissions 

At a press conference, Iberia’s CEO Javier Sánchez-Prieto stressed that thanks to this fuel, CO2 emissions into the atmosphere would be reduced by 125 tonnes.  

The CEO of Repsol, Josu Jon Imaz, pointed out that “a sector like aviation needs solutions like biofuels for a decarbonisation process like the one we are going through”.  

nederlandse orthopeed

He also pointed out that electrification is usually seen as a method of reducing emissions. But there are sectors ‘that cannot be electrified with the technologies available’. However, he believes it is an opportunity to ‘industrialise’ Spain.  

Sánchez-Prieto also noted that ‘aviation faces a very big challenge that can only be met by taking steps like those taken today, which promote the production of fuels of sustainable origin in sufficient quantity and at competitive prices, so that this will enable us to make progress in the ecological transition of the aviation sector’.  

What will be the first biofuel flight? 

The airline´s first flight using biofuel will be on Wednesday. This will be on the Madrid-Washington route using a twin-engine Airbus A330-200 aircraft with a capacity of 288 passengers. It has a maximum take-off capacity of 242 tonnes and consumes 15% less fuel than the fleet it replaces, making it more environmentally friendly. The second is flight IB6193 from Madrid to San Francisco, a route that Iberia is offering again this Wednesday after the pandemic, and the third is Iberia’s new flight from Madrid to Dallas, both also operated with the Airbus A330-200 fleet.  

Ambition 

In the future, Iberia and Repsol will operate new flights with a percentage of biofuel blend that can reach 50%. This blend will be produced in Spain’s first advanced biofuel plant. Moreover, this is due to become operational in Cartagena in 2023. Also, in 2024, Repsol and Iberia plan to start using synthetic SAF produced at the Petronor plant in Bilbao. In addition, both companies are working on a project to use HVO (hydrogen-treated vegetable diesel) in airport service vehicles.  

Also read: Hydrogen trains

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