Momentum gathering towards aviation biofuels commercialisation as US and European policy-makers signal support
boost with a number of initiatives and events taking place at last week’s Paris
wide attention and media column inches (
progress towards a viable alternative jet fuel industry.
officials from the US Department of Commerce and the European Commission, to the
Alternative Aviation Fuels Showcase taking place in one of the exhibition halls
added weight to growing optimism from the aviation and biofuels sectors that policy-makers are getting behind a drive to implement a coherent strategy towards
large-scale commercialisation of sustainable aviation biofuels production in Europe
and the US.
of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were making
major concerted efforts to find alternative aviation fuel opportunities. “We understand
how significant this is to the industry,” he said.
fuel needs of the future. The USDA is excited about the opportunities presented
by the requirement for aviation biofuels as it provides an opportunity for farmers
to diversify income, and to take non-productive land which can be used for fuel
and the private sector to identify potentially efficient and workable feedstocks.
and the capacity to produce these fuels so we are working through the Farm Bill
programme to provide loan guarantees to companies to assure their bankers as they
make the several hundred million dollar investment to build commercial-size biorefineries
that they have a partner in the USDA to provide the security to reduce the risk,”
and the operation of the facilities. “This is also important because they will
likely be located in rural areas across the country and many of America’s farm
producers today require off-farm income to keep their farms.
their own farming operations and for that reason we established the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to provide resources to farmers to produce these new feedstocks on their lands
and offset some of the expense of planting and growing a new crop, and over the
next couple of years make it profitable for them to do this.”
of a five-year commitment, with each project covering areas of roughly 50,000
acres (20,200 hectares) and the growing of feedstocks including camelina and miscanthus.
“We see this as an extraordinary opportunity [for biofuel technology companies]
to ‘out-innovate’ the competition. Once you have innovation, it fuels competition
and creates efficiency and cost-effectiveness.”
on commercial aviation,” he suggested.
Energy and the Navy to investigate how they can work together to speed up the
development of drop-in biofuels. “Competitively-priced drop-in biofuels could
help meet the fuel needs of the Navy, as well as the commercial aviation and shipping
sectors,” he said in a speech.
Initiative (CAAFI) told GreenAir that he expected significant implications for the aviation biofuels sector to
result from the announcement.
meeting carbon emission reduction targets are the main concern of European policy-makers and there is a growing acceptance
within the European Commission that sustainable biofuels may provide a real opportunity
to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint in the longer term. There is also recognition
in European circles that other transport modes can move to other renewable energy
sources that are not available to commercial aircraft and so the development of
aviation biofuels must be supported as a matter of urgency.
and European airlines and biofuel producers, launched a new initiative to speed
up commercialisation of aviation biofuels in Europe. The European Advanced Biofuels Flightpath is targeting the supply of two million tonnes (around 660 million US gallons or 2.5 billion litres) of sustainable
biofuels into the EU civil aviation sector by 2020.
the Commission’s energy and transport directorates together with representatives
from the aviation and biofuels industry and NGOs.
and distribution of sustainably produced drop-in biofuels for use in aviation
and establish appropriate financial mechanisms to support the construction of
industrial ‘first of a kind’ advanced biofuel production plants. More specifically,
the participants will:
facilitate the development of standards for drop-in biofuels and their certification
for use in commercial aircraft;
work together with the full supply chain to further develop worldwide accepted
sustainability certification frameworks;
agree on biofuel offtake arrangements over a defined period of time and at a
promote appropriate public and private actions to ensure the market uptake of
paraffinic biofuels by the aviation sector;
establish financing structures to facilitate the realisation of second-generation
accelerate targeted research and innovation for advanced biofuel technologies,
especially algae; and
take concrete action to inform European citizens of the benefits of replacing
kerosene with certified sustainable biofuels.
and long-term (up to 2020) objectives, with an aim to start construction of the
first series of second-generation aviation biofuel plants within three years and
to become operational by 2015-16. By 2018, the plan is for one million tonnes of hydrotreated sustainable oils
and 200,000 tonnes of synthetic aviation biofuels to reach the aviation market.
to be in operation by 2020, producing a further 800,000 tonnes of aviation biofuels
for use at most EU airports.
from the Commission’s energy directorate said two workshops were being set up
to take place in Brussels in the autumn to bring stakeholders together with financial
institutions and a technical workshop was planned for September to map all potential
that would need to be addressed including ensuring sustainability criteria was in line with the EU Renewables Directive stipulation for a 60% reduction requirement in biofuel lifecycle emissions from 2020; seeking the involvement of the European Investment Bank [see below for more] in providing equity capital; and reaching agreements between aviation biofuel
buyers and suppliers on prices and contract lengths.
Günter Oettinger, said: “This is a unique opportunity to create the first industrial
venture ever introducing sustainable biofuels for commercially competitive operations.
The Commission therefore fully supports all efforts in this direction and will
actively contribute to their success. They are fully in line with our European
Strategic Energy Technology Plan.”
of state and governments in February and will be used as the basis for the working
methods and governance of the Biofuels Flightpath.
Tom Enders said: “Our catalyst role is to bring together stakeholders such as
advanced biofuel producers, airlines and lawmakers in value chains, in order to
achieve this common goal more quickly. Only by working together can we meet our
ambitious target to make air transportation truly sustainable.”
also involved with the initiative. Air France-KLM CEO Pierre Henri Gourgeon said
the Flightpath was giving “the right signal” for the emergence of a European supply
for the aviation industry to reduce its impact on climate change. This announcement
will provide the incentive needed for European airlines to accelerate their plans
to use biofuels to power their fleets. We are already embarking on plans for Europe’s
first sustainable jet fuel plant and hope that initiatives such as this will encourage
others to follow our lead.”
two more were announced during the Paris Air Show involving KLM and SkyNRG, and
a collaboration between the civil aviation authorities of Italy and Spain. The
latter involves Italy’s ENAC together with Spain’s AESA and SENASA in which they
will jointly work on the research and development of sustainable alternative aviation
fuels, in particular on certification and testing.
Alternative Fuels and Energy for Aviation (SWAFEA) study instigated by the European
Commission’s Directorate General for Transport and Energy – now separated into
DG Energy (DG ENER) and DG Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) – to investigate the
feasibility and impact of alternative aviation fuels, and evaluate potential new
energy sources. The results of the two-year study, lead by French aerospace R&D
body Onera and involving European and international industry and research partners,
were passed to the Commission following an international conference in February.
be published very shortly.
announced at the Paris Air Show in separate articles
European Investment Bank (EIB)
(EIB) is the world’s biggest public lending institution – bigger even than the
the EU. But it frequently neglects environmental and social aspects in its investments,
has a strong aversion to share information with the public and its staff is too
small to monitor projects effectively.
a transparent and accountable institution – an institution that values real public
benefits and positive environmental and social impacts as highly as lending volume
and commercial viability.
and thus bound by EU policies and legislation. It provides loans to EU countries,
about 140 partner countries and to private or public companies.
of tackling climate change and supporting sustainable development. Its lending
in the important energy and transport sectors and specifically its lending outside
the EU often has clearly negative, sometimes devastating impacts on the environment
and on the well-being of affected communities.
and social policies. Time and again the EIB’s billions have thus contributed to
damaging impacts on people and their environment.
international financial institution. It takes decisions mostly solitarily without
inviting or allowing others to be involved – not even those directly affected
by its lending.