Following several successful biofuel-powered flights around the world, UK flag-carrier British Airways (BA) has announced that it will use low-carbon "green" jet fuel to power part of its fleet from 2014.
The airline is to build Europe's first sustainable jet fuel plant, capable of converting waste materials into aviation fuel, in East London. The plant will take materials destined for landfill sites and convert them into aviation fuel to be used on BA flights.
British Airways claims that it will convert will convert 500,000 tonnes of waste per year into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel - more than enough to make all BA flights from London City Airport carbon-neutral. The reduction is carbon emissions is estimated to be equivalent to taking 48,000 cars of the road every year. The CO2 neutral plant will also produce 20MW of electricity every year.
The plant is part of British Airway's long term strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050.
Biofuel has grown increasingly popular as an environmentally friendly alternative to kerosene jet fuel. In recent years, Virgin Atlantic, KLM, Air New Zealand, JAL and Continental have all completed test flights using different grades of aviation biofuel.
However, several environmental groups have expressed concern at their ability to provide a sustainable solution to the expected growth in aviation. In January 2009 the UK-based Aviation Environment Federation claimed that "For us, the jury is still well and truly out as to whether either synthetic or biofuels are yet capable of being either entirely fail-safe for aviation use or environmentally sustainable in the longer term."