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Planning a Green Future

Special Report - Airport CitiesAlternative fuels have a massive part to play in the industry’s future.

But this is not solely an airline initiative. Airports too are pushing biofuels projects forward. Any airport city has to be interested in how aviation will power itself in the future.

“Aviation fuel distribution is very much focused on airports so it is only logical that they engage in biofuel production,” says Paul Steele, IATA Director, Aviation Environment.

Iberia and Spanish airports operator AENA, together with AlgaEnerg have established a microalgae-based biofuels research project at Madrid-Barajas Airport. In Northern Europe, Solena and SAS will partner to develop an urban waste-to-jet fuel project at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. Similar projects in Denmark and Norway are also on the cards. LFV, operator of Sweden’s airports and air navigation, has even instigated a study into the possibility of a biorefinery plant in the airport area. LFV claims the study is “very promising” and believes CO2 emissions at the airport can be reduced by 150,000 metric tons per year if biofuels make up just 10% of total fuel use.

And in the United States, Detroit Metro Airport has teamed up with three other Michigan airports and the State University to grow oriental mustard seed and turn it into biofuel.

Biofuels development could form an excellent complement to the airport city concept. According to the Wayne County Airport Authority, Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports have 1,700 acres suitable for a biofuels project between them.

And a study by Jones Lang LaSalle suggests that in 25 years time the 11 mile ‘aerotropolis’ stretch between Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports could employ 64,000 more workers and inject more than $10 billion of economic activity.

“There are some exciting projects, especially those that are looking at converting urban waste to fuel, such as the project at Arlanda,” concludes Steele. “It is very encouraging and a great way to stimulate the market. Around 80% of aviation is concentrated at just 180 airports so the distribution infrastructure would be simpler than for the automobile industry.”



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