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Air travel's 'green' future: Why food-waste fuel is a long-haul project
Saturday, July 22, 2023 @ 2:31 AM

Debate over banning short-distance flights takes off, but the cons outweigh the pros

SPANISH fuel giant CEPSA has developed 'green power' for national airlines – getting its homework done early in time for huge changes set for the year 2050.

As fuel gets ‘greener’, diversification is becoming essential for petrol companies. CEPSA has become the first regular supplier of bio-fuel for airlines in Europe (photo: CEPSA)

The European Union has announced that, within 27 years, at least 70% of airline fuel must be from sustainable and renewable sources.

It is part of a bid to cut down on the huge emissions generated by aeroplane travel – which some key environmental activists, notably Sweden's Greta Thunberg, have publicly boycotted.

CEPSA is now producing non-polluting aviation fuel at its La Rábida Energy Park in Palos de la Frontera (Huelva province), using organic household waste.

This includes the contents of the 'food bin', which could be leftover meals, spoiled edibles, and residue such as fruit peel – all of which go in the 'brown bank' among Spain's recycling bin facilities. 

Not all towns have recycling bins for organic waste, despite EU requirements to have these in place by the end of the year 2021 – but where they do exist, their contents are normally used to make compost, or bio-fuel pellets for domestic heating stoves.

CEPSA is also making use of recycled cooking oil, which can be disposed of in most towns in Spain in a special 'orange bank' after pouring it back into its plastic bottle.


Enough fuel for 2,000 round-the-world flights in seven years

The La Rábida Energy Park, built in cooperation with Bio-Oils, is the largest 'green' fuel plant in southern Europe, fruit of a total joint investment of €1 billion.

Bio-combustible fuel created by CEPSA is now beginning to be sold in Spain's key airports – Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Sevilla, which account for over half the country's air traffic.

CEPSA's La Rábida Energy Park in Palos de la Frontera, Huelva province. It was built in conjunction with Bio-Oils, costing €1bn (photo: CEPSA)

It was launched in Sevilla, where enough fuel for 200 flights was supplied earlier this year, making it the first airport in southern Europe to use 'green' energy for its planes.

CEPSA will, in fact, be the first company on the continent to become a continuous and consistent supplier of aircraft fuel from renewable sources.


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