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$70 billion investment required to meet aviation biofuel ambitions, although industry denies setting target

13.5.2011 (Green Air Online)
 
An investment of up to $70 billion will be required to meet aviation biofuel
targets, and is needed now, said Mitch Hawkins, the CEO of BioJet International,
a company that aims to become a leading global feedstock producer and supplier
of renewable jet fuel.
 
Speaking at this week’s IATA Aviation Fuel Forum in Singapore, he noted the industry
had set a target of 6 per cent of jet fuel coming from sustainable biofuels by
2020 but because of the lead times involved, he said the multi-billion investment
would have to start flowing immediately to achieve the goal.
 
The EU recently set out its ambitions for biofuels to make up 40 per cent of
the overall aviation mix by 2050. Meanwhile, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG),
the industry umbrella organisation, has since clarified its position on aviation
biofuel targets, saying they had not been set.
 
Hawkins told the conference he had based his calculation on the overall investment
needed by using just one of the identified feedstocks of jatropha, camelina, algae
or waste biomass. Using jatropha as the main feedstock, for example, would require
an investment of around $30 billion to fund 2,000 farms of 10,000 hectares each,
he said. Similarly, if it was camelina then an investment of $34 billion would
be needed to cover 8,500 farms. In addition, he estimated $34 billion would be
required to build 67 bio-refining plants at a cost of $350 million to $500 million
each.
 
With recent public offerings raising funds of around $100 million each for major
biofuels players, “the numbers just don’t wash,” said Hawkins.
 
BioJet, an Alternative Fuels Strategic Partner of IATA, itself received a $1.2
billion funding commitment from Equity Partners Fund in February and has since
announced a number of deals. The company has just agreed to merge with Florida-based
Abundant Biofuels, a leading international feedstock developer that controls over
4 million hectares in 10 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Abundant
claims to have sufficient nursery seed stock to develop jatropha plantations over
the next three years capable of producing more than 20 million barrels of biofuel.
 
Commenting on the agreement, Abundant Group Chairman Charles Fishel said: “Competitors
either focus solely on refining or only on the production of feedstock. BioJet
will be one of the few, if not the only, international biofuels company that can
control all of its feedstock. This provides BioJet with the ability to control
its internal allocation of resources for a significant cost control advantage
while other companies are subject to severe fluctuations in cost and availability
of feedstocks.”
 
BioJet’s Hawkins said the Abundant merger would be a major step in his company’s
goal of becoming the world’s largest owner and developer of feedstock for renewable
jet fuel and green diesel. “Ownership and control of feedstock is the absolute
key to all biofuels,” he added.
 
Two weeks ago, BioJet entered into a strategic relationship with Avjet Biotech
(ABI), a developer of small distributive refining systems in the 10 to 15 million
gallon-per-year range. Under the agreement, BioJet will use ABI’s patented RWR
System to build refineries to produce aviation biofuels from native feedstocks
at locations around the globe.
 
The RWR System uses a thermal catalytic process to refine any triglyceride (the
main constituent of vegetable oils and animal fats) into aviation biofuels. The
technology is under development for sale as a small distributive refining system
to global entities or foreign governments that aspire to produce aviation biofuels
from native feedstocks, says ABI. Last month, ABI announced that it had concluded
a licence agreement to secure exclusive rights to a technology portfolio developed
at North Carolina State University for producing biofuels from triglycerides and
for producing products from genetically modified marine microalgae.
 
As the exclusive licensee for the commercialisation of these technologies, ABI
will sell stock and use the funds raised to reimburse the university for its investment
in patent applications, as well as allocate development capital to create a continuous
production model for the biofuel refining system. “This agreement is a major piece
in our plan to provide aviation biofuels internationally,” said ABI CEO Don Evans.
 
Meanwhile, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), which represents the aviation
industry on environmental issues, has said that there is at present no actual
industry target for the use of biofuels. In its March 2011 publication ‘Powering
the Future of Flight’, ATAG said the sector was “striving to practically replace
6% of our fuel in 2020 with biofuel – we hope this figure can be higher.” However,
ATAG’s Haldane Dodd cautions against using the figure as an industry commitment.
 
“Aviation biofuels are at a tipping point in the next few years. We will have
approval to use a new generation of biofuels on passenger flights in the coming
months. The big challenge now is commercialisation. We need to get significant
quantities of cost-competitive, sustainably-sourced biofuel coming on stream in
order to fulfil our broader climate target of reducing emissions by 50% by 2050,”
he told GreenAir Online.
 
“The big question is how much can we get and by when? At this stage, we just
don’t know. We have used the 6% figure, certainly not as a goal or target, but
by way of saying this much could practically be produced by 2020 – given the right
fiscal incentives and signals, particularly from governments.
 
“You have to remember this is an industry at a very early stage, but it is evolving
very rapidly – from nothing to certification in just over three years. Already
we have airlines signing forward purchase agreements and indeed contracts with
biofuel suppliers. The investment community is starting to wake up and increasing
interest is being shown to invest in this new energy source. Governments are also
identifying aviation as the most effective place to use sustainable biofuels.
Europe, in its recent transport white paper, has identified that biofuel use should
be prioritised for aviation because other transport modes have alternative energy
sources.
 
“We have identified in our ‘Powering the Future of Flight’ document a set of
steps that governments can take to help get aviation biofuels off the ground.
We are not necessarily looking for subsidies – unlike many oil companies – but
we do want sustainable aviation biofuels to be given a boost, particularly in
the early years to help bring the cost differential down.
 
“It is very true that a lot of investment is needed to get to 1% biofuel use
in aviation, let alone 6% or 40%. We fully expect that. But last year, airlines
spent $140 billion on fuel. This year, it could be as high as $175 billion and
we are not seeing any relief in the medium term from oil price rises. Over $35
billion price differential year-on-year would say that there is significant scope
for development of alternative sources. There is a big market out there for those
that want to invest.
 
“The important thing is that there is no actual industry-wide target for biofuels
as of yet.”
 
A major US-led initiative to promote aviation biofuels on the international stage
will take place during next month’s Paris Air Show, which aims to showcase current
developments and bring together suppliers, airline customers, investors and government
representatives. A number of leading biofuel companies are expected to take part
and an Investors’ Day is planned for Wednesday, 22 June.
 
 

Links:

BioJet International

Abundant Biofuels

Avjet Biotech (Red Wolf Refining)

IATA Aviation Fuel Forum – Singapore (pdf)

ATAG – ‘Powering the Future of Flight’ (1mb PDF)

Paris Air Show

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1212

Read more »

Iberia and AENA invest in algae biofuel project in Madrid

3.5.2011 (Flightglobal)
 

Iberia has teamed up with Spanish airports operator AENA and AlgaEnergy to establish
a microalgae-based biofuel research project at Madrid Barajas Airport.

The facility, in which an initial €600,000 ($539,622) has been invested, will
be located near the airport’s Terminal 4 and will become operational next month.

The research plant will capture and use carbon dioxide from Iberia’s aircraft
engine bench test facility, which would otherwise have been emitted into the atmosphere.

The eventual aim is to produce biofuel that can be used to power aircraft as
well as airport ground vehicles.

Oil company Repsol plans to convert the biomass oils into biofuel.

Read more »

Aviation industry says: “Campaigners should support aviation industry biofuel trials”

This is a very biased article, surprisingly in the Ecologist, by the aviation
industry.

Ecologist

20th April, 2011
by Paul Steele – executive director of the Air Transport Action Group  http://www.atag.org

The aviation industry deserves credit for being proactive about looking for alternatives
to fossil fuels, says Paul Steele from the Air Transport Action Group
 

Your article on the use of jatropha for aviation biofuel ‘Germany joins up with Lufthansa to sponsor biofuel six times worse than fossil
fuels
,’ didn’t do justice to the amount of work being undertaken by the air transport
sector to move into biofuels in a responsible way.

Having seen the issues caused by road transport’s use of first generation sources,
the aviation industry has been proactive in trying to ‘do it right,’ from the
start. At the same time, the aviation industry does not have the luxury of a variety
of renewable energy sources like other sectors (wind, solar, hydrogen etc) and
is therefore focussed on developing second generation sustainable biofuels as
a means of reducing GHG emissions.

 

We have been working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels to set in place
a set of robust criteria to determine the sustainability of feedstock, including
the impact that these crops will have on local populations and lifecycle CO2 emissions.
Grown responsibly, jatropha can have a positive impact on the livelihoods of those
growing it and also bring about impressive reductions in carbon emissions.

 

At the end of the day, any crop can be grown unsustainably. The success factor
is making sure we set standards so that crops can be grown in a way that doesn’t
impact negatively on people’s lives and resources and then putting in place a
structure to ensure that they are grown according to those standards.

In fact, a recent Yale University study showed that jatropha plantations in Brazil are able to have as much as
an 85 per cent decrease in lifecycle carbon emissions, when grown in a responsible
way. But jatropha is just one potential source of biofuel for aviation – a range
of non-food crops and advanced biomass sources such as algae promise to provide
low-carbon fuel for air transport.

 

NGOs should be working with the aviation industry to lock this process in, creating
a vital source of new income for the people they aim to help. ActionAid, on its
website, offers supporters the “trip of a lifetime” to see their projects in action.
When they fly to Kenya or India this year, surely they would like to know that
their airline is investigating all avenues to reduce the footprint of that flight
– sustainable biofuels and all?

 

The aviation industry’s efforts are much wider than just biofuels. As outlined
on our website
www.enviro.aero, we are making substantial progress in a wide range of different areas. Biofuels
make up a very important part of the aviation carbon reduction story and we are
determined to do a good job in using this fuel source, right from the start.

 

Paul Steele is executive director of the Air Transport Action Group

 
 
 
Reply by AirportWatch
 
Why is use of jatropha by the aviation industry misguided?


Starting aviation down a path of biofuels is highly difficult and controversial.

1. The industry has no plans to cut its activity, or emissions – and plans to
transport more and more passengers, year after year. They are not really making
meaningful (apart from the spin, which needs to be read very carefully indeed)
efforts to cut carbon.


2. The majority of trips by plane are not essential, and many could be made by
other means.  Or for business trips, some could be done by video conferencing. 
The industry would like more and more inessential, discretionary trips to be made
– needlessly producing high carbon emissions, using huge amounts of fuel.

3. The aviation industry claims it must have priviledged access to liquid fuels
(biofuels, once it has exhausted all other options) and transport uses on land
can go over to renewably- generated electricity.
4. The biofuels supply is one whole – part comes from food plants (bioethanol)
and part from other non-food plant sources (bio diesel).  It is all linked.  If
jatropha can indeed produce a lot of fuel, and aviation takes it, the demand for
other biofuels for road transport still remains.  It does not help reduce other
demand.  If a very large amount of liquid fuels is needed, as our societies are
wedded and committed to these liquid fuels, it is not apparent why aviation should
get them, rather than more essential land based uses.
5. Jatropha is a toxic plant, and may damage the soil on which it grows. It is
also potentially toxic to people and wildlife that come into contact with it.
6. It can produce high oil content on marginal soils, but it produces much better
on better soil and with more water.  In order to produce a commercially valuable
crop, it would be likely that growers would want to irrigate and improve the soil. 
If that is the case, that same soil could better be used for human food growing,
or even animal food growing.
7. Every bit of land that could grow food crops that is taken over for non-food
crop use just increases the likelihood that even more land will have to be found
for food production.  It can have a knock on effect, and that can inadvertently
damage biodiversity elsewhere, as other land is taken.
8.  The industry would like people to think that there is a lot of  unowned and
unused community lands out there, which could usefully be given over to crops
like jatropha.  It appears from many organisations that this unused community
land is a bit of a myth, and it is often used by some of the poorest people for 
grazing etc. New large, commercial jatropha plantations would throw these people
off their land.
9. If marginal land can indeed be made to grow a high oil crop, it would upset
many that this fuel – derived at some environmental cost – should be burned out
of the back of a jet, taking the affluent off on holiday, or to visit their second
home abroad.
10. The presumption is, and the aviation industry promotes this myth, that biofuels
have very low carbon emissions. This is often untrue, and some forms of biofuel
have quite high total lifetime carbon emissions.
11. The other aspect which the aviation industry conveniently ignores is that
at an altitude of 35,000 feet or so, aircraft emissions cause other climatic effects,
one of the most important being the creation of contrails and  high cirrus cloud. 
Therefore it is conventional (the DfT do so) to add a multiplier of x2 for these
non-CO2 effects.  This is the same whether a plane burns biofuel, or fossil fuel. 
The net effect of burning fuel in a plane engine at altitude is twice (maybe even
more) than burning that same fuel back down on the ground.
12.  By comparison with even worse biofuels – coming from palm oil or from human
food plants – jatropha appears to be preferable. However, once the aviation industry
is allowed to expand using immense quantities of biofuels, this will not take
any pressure off land in danger of palm oil plantations.  The jatropha thing is
just another set of risks and problems, and does not remove the danger of palm
oil expansion.
13.  The international aviation industry has said it will have only  so-called
“carbon neutral growth” after 2020, if it is allowed to use a great deal of biofuel. 
This also needs the industry to be able to buy offsets from elsewhere.  It cannot
possibly grow in a carbon neutral way  otherwise.  The UK Committee on Climate
Change reported at the end of 2009, into the possible expansion of aviation in
the UK, and the carbon emission implication.  They were not persuaded that the
industry would be able to use more than small amounts of biofuels.
14.  A danger we all face is that the aviation industry wishes to expand, and
it is managing at present to put out hopeful,  optimistic (and rather unrealistic)
aspirations for low carbon this and low carbon that.  These  need to be taken
with a pinch of salt, and seen as the industry spin that they are.  Read them
carefully, between the lines.
http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/857894/campaigners_should_support_aviation_industry_biofuel_trials.html
More stories on biofuels and aviation
More articles from the Ecologist:
NEWS ANALYSIS

Germany joins up with Lufthansa to sponsor biofuel six times worse than fossil
fuels


Campaigners are outraged over airline Lufthansa and German government funding
for jatropha biofuels trial
Biofuels: jatropha still linked to ‘land grabbing and displacement of farmers’

European investment companies continue to tout the biofuel as a ‘wonder-crop’
despite serious environmental and social impacts – Friends of the Earth report
Jatropha better suited to local communities, not biofuel markets

Study predicts the yields of jatropha will fall in the next decade and that it
is better suited to community-level, rather than industrial-scale, production
for the biofuel market
Airlines admit carbon reductions to come from offsetting

Aviation sector wants to avoid a closed trading scheme and forced carbon emissions
cuts
and

New report by Friends of the Earth Europe says Jatropha fails to deliver

Date Added: 21st January 2011

The new report says the much-touted biofuel crop jatropha is neither a profitable nor a sustainable investment. 
It provides growing evidence that the crop is failing to deliver on its promises
while simultaneously failing to prevent climate change or contribute to pro-poor
development. Many projects have already been abandoned because yields have stayed
below expectations, even on good soils. They say companies should stop land-grabbing
for jatropha. (FoE)
     Click here to view full story…

Germany joins up with Lufthansa to sponsor biofuel 6 times worse than fossil
fuels

Date Added: 20th April 2011

 

The German government is financing Lufthansa’s biofuel trials. A total €2.5 million of government money is being ploughed into the 6 month €6.6
million biofuel trial.
A recent report by ActionAid and RSPB found that the development of jatropha
plantations would produce 2.5 – 6 times more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil
fuels. The German government is wasting taxpayers’ money on a technology that
has few environmental benefits, and does much harm.

     Click here to view full story…

Biofuels transport targets are unethical, inquiry finds

Date Added: 14th April 2011

 

A new study by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics says the production of biofuels
to meet UK and European directives violates human rights, damages the environment,
and has led to problems of deforestation and the displacement of indigenous people.
Biofuels also contribute to poor harvests, commodity speculation and high oil
prices which raise the cost of fertilisers and transport. Targets had driven rapid
expansion in parts of the world with lower ethical standards.    
Click here to view full story…

Read more »

Germany joins up with Lufthansa to sponsor biofuel 6 times worse than fossil fuels

19.4.2011 (Green Air online)

by William McLennan

Campaigners are outraged over airline Lufthansa and German government funding
for jatropha biofuels trial


The German government is financing a leading European airline’s biofuel trials
despite claims from environmental groups it could cause emissions six time greater
than fossil fuels.

A total €2.5 million of government money is being ploughed into the six month
biofuel trial run by leading European airline Lufthansa, who will be partly financing
the €6.6 million project.

Attempts are being made to source jatropha oil for biofuel test flights which
aim ‘at reducing overall emissions in air traffic’. However, environmental groups
have raised concerns over the use of jatropha as a biofuel crop.
 
A recent report by ActionAid and RSPB found that the development of jatropha
plantations would produce 2.5 to six times more greenhouse gas emissions than
fossil fuels.

‘Jatropha is far from the ‘sustainable’ fuel that it is made out to be by the
aviation industry. In fact, it could end up increasing carbon emissions,’ says
Tim Rice, ActionAid’s biofuels expert.

Campaigners believe developing new jatropha plantations leads to the loss of
indigenous communities’ farmland and are making life more difficult for people
in less industrialised countries.

‘ActionAid’s work with local communities has also revealed how jatropha plantations
can create huge social upheaval, including loss of land, homes and livelihoods,’
says Rice.

German sponsorship

The German government’s involvement with the biofuels test flights has been condemned
by environmental groups who believe it will have limited benefits for the environment.

‘By subsidising Lufthansa’s foray into biofuels, the German government is wasting
taxpayers’ money on a technology that has few public or environmental benefits,
and is harming communities in Africa and India whose land is being grabbed for
jatropha,’ says Robbie Blake, agrofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

Despite allegations of land evictions and failed harvests globally, Lufthansa
aims to switch biofuel production from palm oil to jatropha and is attempting
to ‘collect every single jatropha nut in the market’, according to a Lufthansa
spokesperson. The airline hope the plant-based jet fuel, made by Finnish biofuel
giant Neste Oil, will contain up to 60% jatropha oil.

One engine of the Lufthansa Airbus A321 flying the Hamburg to Frankfurt route
will use a 50:50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene, during the six month
trial. Lufthansa claim 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved during the
trial and only sustainable sources of fuel will be used.

‘Our goal must be to achieve a positive contribution to the environment and save
CO2,’ said a Lufthansa spokesperson. ‘We are doing our best to consider all sustainability
aspects in our trial, which is supervised by external scientists. If we discover
that we cannot fulfil our strict sustainability requirements, we will react accordingly.’

However, the sustainability of growing both palm oil and jatropha for biofuels
has been questioned and campaigners believe it leads to widespread deforestation.

‘Lufthansa have evidently recognised the damage to people, rainforests and the
climate that using palm oil in their flights will cause. But switching from palm
oil to jatropha is like flying from the frying pan into the fire. Jatropha is
responsible for large-scale land grabbing in Africa and India, displacing local
communities and destroying their livelihoods – with no evidence of a reduction
in carbon,’ says Blake.

Friends of Earth Germany (Bund) say the recent decision by the German government
to phase out nuclear has created a general confusion about the country’s overall
renewable targets and that biofuels were now part of that confusion. ‘I am not
sure why the German government is supporting this project. Other than that they
are experimenting with biofuels, they have no real legitimisation to do this,’
says FOE Transport campaigner Werner Reh.

The German Environment ministry could not comment on the concerns about the use
of jatropha, saying there was ‘no uniform view at the moment’.


http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/852075/germany_joins_up_with_lufthansa_to_sponsor_biofuel_six_times_worse_than_fossil_fuels.html

The Lufthansa biofuel flights are not likely to start till towards the end of
2011. 
See
http://www.greenbusinesstimes.com/2011/04/14/lufthansas-biofuel-trial-on-commercial-flights/
see also

Lufthansa biofuel flights postponed by certification delay

Date Added: 18th February 2011     Lufthansa has been forced to postpone its planned commercial biofuel flights by at least
a month because the fuel will not be certified in time by regulators. It planned
to begin a 6-month trial in April, in which it aims to operate its Frankfurt-Hamburg
route using an International Aero Engine-powered
Airbus A321 with one of its engines running on a 50/50 blend of biofuel from vegetable
oil and traditional kerosene. Now pushed back to end of May.
  Click here to view full story…

 

Germany joins up with Lufthansa to sponsor biofuel 6 times worse than fossil
fuels

Date Added: 20th April 2011     The German government is financing Lufthansa’s biofuel trials. A total €2.5 million
of government money is being ploughed into the 6 month €6.6 million biofuel trial.
A recent report by ActionAid and RSPB found that the development of jatropha plantations
would produce 2.5 – 6 times more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. The
German government is wasting taxpayers’ money on a technology that has few environmental
benefits, and does much harm.  Click here to view full story…



 

Lufthansa first airline to use biofuel on commercial flights next spring

Date Added: 30th November 2010    In April 2011, Lufthansa is to begin a 6-month trial with an Airbus A321 on scheduled
commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt
route. Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50
mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene. The purpose of the project is to conduct
a long term study on the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and life. Lufthansa
is the first airline to test this fuel over a long period. The Federal Govt is
giving €2.5m for the Lufthansa project.  Click here to view full story…



 

 

Biofuel approval nears, Lufhansa plans service trial in spring 2011 – fuel partly
from palm oil

Date Added: 29th November 2010    With the aviation fuels subcommittee of standards-setter ASTM to meet next week to decide on approval of bio-jet fuels, Lufthansa has announced
plans for a 6-month in-service trail of a 50:50 mix of biofuel and conventional
kerosene using an Airbus A321.  ASTM has already approved 50% blends of synthetic
paraffinic kerosenes (SPKs) produced from coal, natural gas or biomass using the
Fischer-Tropsch process. The bio-SPKs may be next, by March 2011.   Click here to view full story…

Read more »

Biofuels transport targets are unethical, inquiry finds

In its report ‘Biofuels: ethical issues’, the Nuffield Council recommends that
there should be a set of overarching ethical conditions for all biofuels produced
in and imported into Europe, including: 

  1. Biofuels development should not be at the expense of human rights 

  2. Biofuels should be environmentally sustainable 

  3. Biofuels should contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 

  4. Biofuels should adhere to fair trade principles 

  5. Costs and benefits of biofuels should be distributed in an equitable way

http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/

  
  
  
Independent inquiry concludes that the production of biofuels to meet UK and
European directives violates human rights and damages the environment
  
13.4.2011 (Guardian)
  

The legal requirement to put biofuels in petrol and diesel sold in the UK and Europe is unethical because their production violates human rights and damages the
environment, a major new inquiry has concluded.

Biofuels are one of the only renewable alternatives we have for transport fuels, but
current policies and targets that encourage their uptake have backfired badly,”
said Prof Joyce Tait, at Edinburgh University, who chaired the 18-month inquiry
by the independent
Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCB). “The rapid expansion of biofuels production in the developing world has
led to problems such as deforestation and the displacement of indigenous people.”

The need to meet rising biofuel targets has also led to exploitation of workers,
the loss of wildlife and higher food prices, the inquiry found. Under the European
Union’s
renewable energy directive, 10% of transport fuel must come from renewable sources such as biofuel by 2020.
Alena Buyx, assistant director at the NCB, said: “If you look at food prices and
they go up and incomes do not, then more people will probably die from hunger,
and biofuels are one contributing factor to those price rises.”
 
“But doing nothing is also immoral,” said Prof Ottoline Leyserof Cambridge University,
and another member of the NBC working party. There is a clear need to replace
liquid fossil fuels to limit climate change and if a new biofuel technology meets
ethical conditions, there is a duty to develop it, she said.

The main transport biofuels that are currently used – bioethanol, made from maize
and sugar cane, and biodiesel, made from palm and rape seed oil – both come from
food crops and can have substantial ethical problems, the inquiry concluded.

But future generations of biofuel, made from agricultural waste such as straw,
fast-growing perennials such as willow or
miscanthus grass, or even algae grown in tanks, could avoid many of the problems by not competing directly with food. “These are very exciting technologies,” said Leyser. “The potential is huge.”

In the UK, 5% of transport fuel must come from renewable sources by 2013. Today, 3% of the UK’s petrol and diesel comes from biofuel, mostly
produced in Argentina, Brazil and other European countries. But in January, it
was revealed that two-thirds of the
biofuel being used in the UK today failed to meet environmental standards. Government cuts to the budget of the Carbon Trust also saw a flagship algal biofuels project cancelled.

The Department of Transport is currently consulting on changes to the UK’s biofuels regulations. Transport minister Norman Baker said: “It has already been agreed that no biofuel
will count towards European
renewable energy targets unless it meets certain sustainability requirements. But we are pushing
the European commission to go further. Be in no doubt, we consider the sustainability
of biofuels to be paramount.”

An international certification scheme, like the Fairtrade scheme for food, must
be introduced, the NCB inquiry concluded. It would guarantee that the production
of biofuels met the five ethical conditions identified by the NCB: observing human
rights, environmentally sustainable, reduced carbon emissions, fairly traded and
equitably distributed cost and benefits.

Targets for biofuels had driven a rapid expansion, in parts of the world with
lower ethical standards, the researchers said. They cited the destruction of rainforest
in Malaysia to produce palm oil, forcing people off their land and endangering
orangutans, and a 2008 report by Amnesty International which found conditions
near
slavery for workers in some sugarcane plantations.

“We should slow down [the targets] if it is not possible to meet ethical standards,”
said Buyx. “But we think it is possible to do that [meet such standards] if enough
pressure is applied.” The inquiry found positive examples too, such as small-scale
biofuels initiatives that provide
energy, income and livelihoods in fuel-poor areas, such as in rural Mali.

Existing certification schemes, such as that run by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels were a good start, the researchers said, but remained entirely voluntary. There
was also problem of responsible biofuel producers having to conform to many different
standards. At present, said Buyx: “the EU says each member country should make
their own voluntary scheme – that is madness.”

Tait added: “An international certification scheme will not add to red tape,
it will simplify it with one overarching standard.”
  
The report 9226 pages) is at
 
 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/13/biofuels-targets-unethical?CMP=twt_fd
  
  
  
In comments below the article:
—-

Jayb suggests that biofuels are too precious to waste on cars and that they should
be reserved for aviation.

I can think of few things more obscene than squirting food out of the back of
a jet carrying passengers on their holidays.
  
—-

JSByng, the alternative is for people to continue to fly on holiday but burning
fossil fuels. Any gains in efficiency from aviation are going to be very modest
without biofuels.
You’ll note I pointed out that any biofuels produced should be the most sustainable.
Essentially that rules out veg oil-based aviation fuel and just leaves Fischer
Tropsch fuels which are produced from woody energy crops or waste biomass and
don’t compete directly for food.
It’s not ideal but we’re stuck with it. Naturally it’s much better to reduce
demand for aviation, and that will happen, but for the demand that will inevitably
remain let’s do it as sustainably as possible.

Read more »

Biofuel “could be an alternative to fossil-based jet fuel” – Romanian camelina

24.3.2011 (Engineer)

 

The Romanian-based project, which is being overseen by a non-governmental organisation
(NGO), aims to provide a biofuel made from the camelina plant as a substitute
to fossil-based jet fuel.

Honeywell’s UOP is applying its aviation biofuel refining technology, while CCE
is contributing its knowledge on camelina agronomy, including technologies on
camelina growth, agricultural monitoring networks and plant science. Airbus is
providing technical and project management expertise and is sponsoring sustainability
assessment and lifecycle analysis studies.

Camelina was chosen because of its energy potential, its rotational crop qualities,
its greenhouse-gas reduction potential and its low water requirements. Camelina
is also indigenous to Romania, and can be readily farmed and harvested by family
farmers. It has a high-quality animal feed by-product.

Airbus will support the fuel-approval processes, and assess the effect on aircraft
systems and engines. The consortium will work together with the Bucharest University
of Agronomical Sciences and Veterinary Medicine’s Centre of Biotechnology (BIOTEHGEN)
regarding the camelina plantations, harvesting and oil production.

In the US, biofuel is also showing promise for use in military aircraft. This
month, an F-22 Raptor was successfully flown at supersonic speed a 50/50 fuel
blend of conventional petroleum-based JP-8 and a biofuel that was also derived
from camelina.

The F-22 Raptor performed several manoeuvres, including a supercruise at 40,000ft,
reaching speeds of 1.5 Mach. Supercruise is supersonic flight without using the
engine’s afterburner.

Camelina-derived synthetic fuel falls into a class of hydroprocessed blended
biofuels known as hydrotreated renewable jet fuels, or HRJs. The HRJ fuel can
be derived from a variety of plant oil and animal fat feedstocks.

In February, US Air Force officials certified the entire C-17 Globemaster III
fleet for unrestricted flight operations using the HRJ biofuel blend.


link to article

 

more news and stories on aviation biofuels at Biofuels News

Read more »

Lufthansa biofuel flights postponed by certification delay

18.2.2011  (Flight Global)
 
By Kerry Reals
 
Lufthansa has been forced to postpone its planned commercial biofuel flights by at least
a month because the fuel will not be certified in time by regulators.

The German carrier was originally planning to begin a six-month trial in April,
in which it aims to operate its Frankfurt-Hamburg route using an International
Aero Engine-powered
Airbus A321 with one of its engines running on a 50/50 blend of biofuel derived from
vegetable oil and traditional kerosene.

But Lufthansa, which is aiming to become the first airline to operate scheduled
passenger flights powered partly by renewable fuel, says the trial has now been
pushed back to the end of May. “We think that should be the right timeframe and
hopefully it will work out,” says the carrier.

Certifying body ASTM International was expected to certify hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel for use in commercial aviation in the first quarter of this year, but is now
unlikely to provide the necessary authorisation until at least the middle of the
second quarter. The delay follows the failure of an ASTM International subcommittee
to give an anticipated green light in mid-December.

“ASTM is simply wrapping up the remaining technical details. It has simply taken
longer than we would have expected,” says Richard Altman, executive director of
the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI).   “The current target is to have full committee approval mid-second quarter
and publish early third quarter, assuming current deliverables are received as
promised.”

Lufthansa has signed an agreement with Finnish oil refining company Neste Oil for the supply of jet fuel derived from vegetable oil using Neste’s NExBTL biomass-to-liquid technology.  The airline is spending around €6.6 million ($8.9 million) on the project,
which it estimates will save around 1.5 million kg (3.3 million lb) of carbon
dioxide emissions over the six-month trial.
 
 
 
 
 
see also
 

Germany joins up with Lufthansa to sponsor biofuel 6 times worse than fossil
fuels

Date Added: 20th April 2011

 

The German government is financing Lufthansa’s biofuel trials. A total €2.5 million
of government money is being ploughed into the 6 month €6.6 million biofuel trial.
A recent report by ActionAid and RSPB found that the development of jatropha plantations
would produce 2.5 – 6 times more greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. The
German government is wasting taxpayers’ money on a technology that has few environmental
benefits, and does much harm.

Click here to view full story…



 

Lufthansa first airline to use biofuel on commercial flights next spring

Date Added: 30th November 2010

 

In April 2011, Lufthansa is to begin a 6-month trial with an Airbus A321 on scheduled
commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt
route. Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50
mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene. The purpose of the project is to conduct
a long term study on the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and life. Lufthansa
is the first airline to test this fuel over a long period. The Federal Govt is
giving €2.5m for the Lufthansa project.

Click here to view full story…



 

 

Biofuel approval nears, Lufhansa plans service trial in spring 2011 – fuel partly
from palm oil

Date Added: 29th November 2010

 

With the aviation fuels subcommittee of standards-setter ASTM to meet next week to decide on approval of bio-jet fuels, Lufthansa has announced
plans for a 6-month in-service trail of a 50:50 mix of biofuel and conventional
kerosene using an Airbus A321.  ASTM has already approved 50% blends of synthetic
paraffinic kerosenes (SPKs) produced from coal, natural gas or biomass using the
Fischer-Tropsch process. The bio-SPKs may be next, by March 2011.

Click here to view full story…

Read more »

Boeing hopes biofuel could be 1% of global aviation fuel by 2015

14.2.2011 (AP)
 

By GEORGE TIBBITS



EVERETT, Wash. — Boeing Co. hopes aviation biofuels will be practical for the market by around
2015, but it’s going to take a lot of work.

Richard Wynne, Boeing Commercial Airplane’s director of environment and aviation
policy, told reporters Monday that the company is working with others throughout
the industry toward having 1% of all aviation fuel come from non-petroleum sources
by then. 
While that might sound like a small amount, Wynne said it’s about 16 million
gallons — roughly what Seattle-Tacoma International Airport uses each year.

While Boeing’s customers want new aircraft to offer higher performance and more
savings, planes that burn less fuel also emit less carbon into the atmosphere. 
Wynne said that’s critical as thousands more jets join the world’s fleet over
the next two decades.

Boeing doesn’t plan to make biofuel itself, but will be a “facilitator” for its
adoption, Wynne said.

“This is an important issue for us and we’re devoting a lot of time and energy
to it,” he said. “It’s not just the Boeing Co. but we as an entire industry.”

Fuel can be saved and emissions lowered through such things as more efficient
engines, lighter planes with better aerodynamics, more efficient air traffic control
and airlines cutting waste, Wynne said.  But those efforts by themselves won’t
reach the industry’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020, he said; new fuels
that result in fewer carbon emissions are necessary.

The U.S. military is experimenting with biofuels for its jets, as are some airlines.
Those and other tests have been encouraging, he said, but before such fuels can
see widespread commercial use there are a number of hurdles:

– The fuels have to be chemically identical and perform the same as existing
fuels, and be approved for use.

– Enough sources for the fuels have to be available and at a suitable cost.

– Airports must be able to handle the fuels without having to make major changes
in storage tanks, pipelines and other infrastructure.

– Commercial production must start, and enough made at a price that compares
favorably with petroleum-based fuel.

– The fuels have to be sustainable, and not compete with food sources.

So-called “first-generation” biofuels, such as those made from corn or soy, don’t
have the chemical properties to work well in jet engines, Wynne said. But newer
sources, such as algae and nonfood plants, look promising.

Many different sources and processes for the fuels will be needed, he said, not
just to meet demand but so that airports around the world have a nearby source
of fuel that can be had at a competitive price.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Boeing-hopes-aviation-biofuel-apf-3260950575.html?x=0&.v=1
see also
 
14.6.2010
 
IATA has said:
“The organisation is quite confident that the industry will be able to replace
at least 40% of jet fuel by 2035, while an optimistic scenario would be full replacement
by then.”

http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/piata/Article/
 
 
see also
 
 
 
PROPOSED EXTENT OF USE OF BIOFUELS IN FUTURE:

Virgin Atlantic –  5% of fuel the airline uses in 2015 and increase that to 10%
by 2020
http://www.biodieselmagazine.com/articles/3071/aviation-alternatives

IATA – 10% of ALL aviation fuel by 2017
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_fuel
http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/Aviation_EP.pdf

IEA – 30% of global aviation fuel by 2050
http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/events/doc/2010_10_13/5_opening_adam_brown.pdf

E4Tech (for the UK CCC)  5 – 10% by 2020 –
http://www.biomassintel.com/australia-aviation-biofuels-picture-cloudy-industry-interest-high/
 
   and 35 to 100% by 2050
http://downloads.theccc.org.uk/Aviation%20Report%2009/E4tech%20(2009),%20Review%20of%20the%20potential%20for%20biofuels%20in%20aviation.pdf

CCC – 10 to 30% by 2050 (prudent to plan for 10% by 2050 given sustainability
concerns)
http://www.theccc.org.uk/sectors/aviation/meeting-the-2050-aviation-target

Read more »

BP enters aviation biofuels in Brazil (jatropha, soy, sugarcane?)

2.2.2011 (Biofuels Digest)
 
… the story of advanced biofuels in Brazil amped up considerably yesterday
with the announcement that TAM Airlines in conjunction with Airbus, jatropha biofuel producer Brasil Ecodiesel,
and AirBP (the specialized aviation division of BP) are jointly developing a bio-SPK
manufacturing facility with a 80,000 ton per year capacity that is expected to
come online in 2013.
  The studies for the project are being undertaken by Yale University.    [ SPK is Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene ]

The announcement would create an even larger facility than those contemplated
by agreements between British Airways and Solena for a 19 million gallon MSW-to-jet
fuel plant in the UK, and an exploration[ underway between Qantas and Solena to
construct a similar plant in Australia.  [MSW is municipal solid waste ].

The news reminds us that, while most of the coverage of Brazil has focused on
ethanol production and distribution into its well-established, subsidy-free alternative
fuels market, there is substantial momentum building up in Brazil on the diesel
and jet fuel side.

In fact, in addition to the jatropha and soy biodiesel production that has been
expanding in Brazil, there is a substantial influx of US advanced biofuels technologies
based in the conversion of sugarcane to diesel and jet fuel.
 
Link to article
 
Air (BP) website is at  http://www.bp.com/homepage.do?categoryId=6100&contentId=58990 
 
 

Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK)

 

Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) is a biofuel that has been hailed by the
aviation industry as a means of curbing carbon emissions from aircraft.

Developed using plants such as jatropha, algae and camelina, bio-SPK fuel has
been successfully trialled by commercial aircrafts at a blend ratio of up to 50
per cent with traditional jet fuel.

Tests are on-going and various SPK fuels its are now seeking regulatory approval
for use on commercial flights.

A coalition of companies from across the aviation industry, including Boeing,
Continental Airlines, Air New Zealand and Rolls-Royce, have also found that Bio-SPK
outperforms traditional petroleum-based aviation fuels. A study revealed that
Bio-SPK delivers a cleaner burn resulting in improved fuel efficiency and less
wear on engine components.

Read more »

Air China plans transpacific jatropha biofuel test flight in 2011

1.2.2011  (Air Transport World)
 
by Katie Cantle
 

Air China said it plans to operate a transpacific demonstration flight partially
powered by biofuel in the second half of this year. CA is expected to use a Boeing
747 powered by Pratt & Whitney engines on the test flight, and the aircraft
manufacturer has agreed to partner with the Beijing-based carrier to provide technical
support.

PetroChina will provide jatropha-based feedstock for the project. The flight
would follow a number of biofuel test flights conducted by airlines worldwide,
including Air New Zealand, Continental Airlines, Japan Airlines (ATW Daily News, Feb. 2, 2009  – see below) and TAM (ATW Daily News, Nov. 24, 2010  see below ).

Lufthansa plans to launch the world’s first scheduled commercial passenger flights
using biofuel in the first half of this year, with an IAE-V2500-powered Airbus
A321(ATW Daily News, Nov. 30, 2010  see below).
 
link to  article
 
 
 
 

JAL conducts 747-300 camelina oil test flight

 

Japan Airlines Friday conducted the latest biofuel test flight, operating a 747-300
partially powered by fuel derived primarily from the camelina plant.

The 90-min. flight from Tokyo Haneda followed recent biofuel demonstration flights
conducted by Air New Zealand and Continental Airlines
(ATWOnline, Jan. 8). A 50/50 blend of traditional jet fuel and camelina-based biofuel powered one
of the aircraft’s four Pratt & Whitney JT9Ds. It was the first biofuel test
flight using Pratt engines.

Keiji Kobayashi, who piloted the 747, said, “There was no difference at all in
the performance of the engine powered by the biofuel blend and the other three
engines.” Camelina made up 84% of the biofuel, which also contained jatropha oil
(under 16%) and algae oil (under 1%).

Honeywell subsidiary UOP converted the plant-based crude oil to biofuel and then
blended it with jet fuel. Sustainable Oils provided the camelina oil while Terasol
Energy and Sapphire Energy sourced the jatropha oil and algae oil respectively.
 
 
 
 

TAM, Airbus conduct A320 test flight using jatropha-derived fuel

 

Brazil’s TAM Airlines conducted a 45 min. A320 test flight using fuel partially
derived from locally sourced jatropha, the airline and Airbus said Tuesday.

The flight out of Rio de Janeiro was conducted in conjunction with Airbus and
CFM International (the A320 is powered by CFM56-5Bs), utilizing biofuel derived
from jatropha oil refined by Honeywell’s UOP. It was the first biofuel test flight
aboard a commercial aircraft in Latin America (ATW Daily News, June 4).

“The biofuel…was a 50% blend of locally sourced Brazilian japtropha-based bio-kerosene
and conventional aviation kerosene,” according to a statement from Airbus. The
aircraft carried 20 passengers, all TAM or Airbus employees.

“Airbus and TAM have taken an important step toward establishing an aviation
biofuel solution that is both commercially viable and sustainable, with positive
impact on the environment,” said Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders. TAM President
Libano Barroso added, “This experimental flight materializes TAM’s participation
in a vast project to develop a production chain for renewable biofuel, with the
purpose of creating a Brazilian platform for sustainable aviation bio-kerosene.”

Results from the flight, in terms of fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions,
were not released.
 
 
 

Lufthansa to become first airline to use biofuel on a passenger flight

 

Lufthansa is launching the world’s first scheduled commercial passenger flights
using biofuel in the first half of 2011, with an IAE-V2500-powered Airbus A321.

In April 2011, LH will begin a six-month trial with an A321 on scheduled commercial
flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route. Pending certification, one of
the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene.
The primary purpose of the project is to conduct a long-term trial to study the
effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and engine life.

The daily flights are part of the ‘burnFair’ project to study the long-term impact
of sustainable biofuels on aircraft performance. Airbus’ role is to provide technical
assistance and to monitor the fuel properties. The biofuel will be supplied by
Finland-based Neste Oil, a fuel refining and marketing company that has cooperated
with Lufthansa for many years, LH said. Certification of its biofuel is expected
in March 2011.

LH Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber said that during the six months trial,
LH will save around 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions. “Lufthansa will be the world’s
first airline to utilize bio-fuel in flight operations within the framework of
a long-term trial. This is a further consistent step in a proven sustainability
strategy, which Lufthansa has for many years successfully pursued and implemented,”
he said. The project will cost LH an estimated €6.6 million ($8.74 million).

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