4 minutes with… Jeff Ovens, Biofuel Manager, Cathay Pacific Airways

January 8, 2015 |

2507609Tell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific Airways is committed to carbon neutral growth and has demonstrated this with a recent investment in MSW to Fuels company, Fulcrum Bioenergy. Aside from Fulcrum, Cathay is actively seeking opportunities in parts of the supply chain,with the long term aim of diversifying portion of its fuel away from fossil sources.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

My role and sole objective, is to introduce sustainable fuels into the Cathay business. We have come from talking about biofuels, to being financially invested at the corporate level of a fuel producer, within 3 years. Thats a pretty good achievement for an airline, whose core business is flying airplanes not making fuel.

We ventured into the bio arena in the US first, because this is where policy supports the business case today.

We are concentrating on waste and residues for our feedstock, mainly driven by concern over land use change, sometimes associated with energy crops. That said, we will put more focus on this type of feedstock whilst working with the relevant sustainability boards to ensure the fuel we end up with is truly sustainable on all fronts. Our near term goals are to expand our supplier portfolio, look for promising technology providers and put more of a focus on our home port of HK. We are in the middle of a feasibility study for a HK waste-jet biorefinery.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?  

Give more attention to the aviation market. There is a huge pull from this $100 billion fuel consumer and airlines want to clean up their act. Policy needs to be extended to help aviation achieve its environmental targets and the opportunity exists to do this properly and learn from previous mistakes associated with biofuel destined for the road.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change? 

A little less conversation, a little more action please.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?  

Sustainability. But not at the cost of doing business. Aviation has tight margins, so ventures need to make good economic sense – not just because its ‘eco’.

Where are you from? 

Manchester UK (PS – Cathay starts flying their direct from Hong Kong from the 8th December!). Been in HK for almost 10 years.

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?

Nottingham University Honours Graduate in Mechanical Engineering.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?  

Believe in your dreams and objectives. Ensure you have covered all the bases and pitch your ideas. People will sense your passion, begin to listen, build trust and go along with you.

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?  

Phuket, Thailand. Everyone is always smiling there.

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Category: Million Minds

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