Director of transport policy at BP sceptical about aviation biofuels

The air transport industry may be deluding itself if it believes biofuels are
the panacea for carbon footprint reduction. High fuel costs as well as competing
demand make it unlikely that biojet will deliver the promised CO2 reductions within
a desired timeframe. It is unclear even how the targets for road transport biodiesel
will be met. Many biofuels have a carbon footprint not much better than fossil
fuels, even without indirect land use impact. 


Skeptics Question Airline Biofuels

21.10.2011 (Aviation Week)

By Robert Wall, London 

 

When it comes to operating airliners with a biofuel blend, it is becoming difficult
to find a name-brand airline that has not conducted a demonstration flight. The
problem is, it may all be for naught.

Air France recently completed a trial, as have Lufthansa, KLM, Iberia and a raft
of others. All tout the carbon dioxide savings these flights—or in some cases
longer-running trials—are achieving.

But the air transport industry may be deluding itself if it believes biofuels
are the panacea for carbon footprint reduction, at least for this decade and possibly
beyond. High fuel costs as well as competing demand make it unlikely that biojet
will deliver the promised carbon dioxide reductions within a desired timeframe.

Already, road transport’s demand for biodiesel is growing so rapidly that it
is not clear where the supply will come from to meet 2020 targets, says John Cooper,
director of transport policy at BP. Availability of sufficient feedstock is “a
major concern,” he notes.

What is more, many biofuels have a carbon footprint that is not much better than fossil fuels and, with regulators looking to impose an indirect land-use charge to account
for the fact that food is not produced, the prospects for biojet are dimmed further.
Cooper fears that vegetable oil-based biojet is likely “a blind alley.”

Fuels from waste products are more attractive, he says, but much of the work
to commercialize those is not far enough advanced.

With biojet costs about double what airlines pay for kerosene, it makes more
sense for carriers to simply purchase carbon credits in an emissions trading system
(ETS) than spending money on biojet.
At current prices, biojet use would equate to more than €300 ($410) per metric
ton of carbon, far above the ETS market rate, which is currently below €12. Airlines
are still betting on biofuel, though, in part to burnish their “green” credentials.

Efforts are under way in Europe to address the issue, principally the European
Commission-backed biofuels flightpath that has as its goal production of 2 million
tons of sustainable biofuel by 2020. However, there is some doubt that the cost
curve can change significantly. In the case of many technologies it is difficult
to see how costs will come down, Cooper says.

If airlines are serious about achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020, it is
all the more troubling, then, that their involvement in the European Union’s emissions
trading system is so precarious. The EU’s decision to include all airlines that
land in or depart from member states is not just garnering increasing vocal opposition
from outsiders, but threatens to become a nasty international battle.

European airlines, despite their misgivings about elements of the ETS, would
not want to see its total demise, because if this attempt at a cap-and-trade system
fails it might be replaced with more draconian measures, such as additional taxes,
warns British Airways’ head of environmental affairs, Jonathan Counsell. “By
taking too big a first step, it is taking us backward,” he says.

 

Even though a European legal authority has deemed the system legitimate—a formal
verdict from the European Court of Justice and U.K. high court is still pending—opposition
is mounting. Russia is considering legislation that would bar its airlines from
complying, mirroring language proposed in the U.S. Congress.

Moreover, Indian officials are expected to bring a recently adopted resolution
opposing the EU policy before the International Civil Aviation Organization’s
council, where 36 members convene; 21 are signatories to the Indian declaration
against the ETS. The majority could force a vote and have ICAO formally adopt
the declaration, although it is unclear what the next move would be if that happens.

There is a sense among ETS watchers that ICAO and the EU may try to impede a
vote, fearful that it would expose deep divisions with the airline governing body.

ETS backers have stated that the international community is not negotiating in
good faith. Tim Johnson, director of the Aviation Environment Federation, believes the ETS is a good deal for airlines. He argues that “It would be a
lot easier for Europe to negotiate with countries outside its borders if they
had a credible alternative in place.”

European carriers feel caught in the middle. “We are concerned about retaliatory
actions,” warns British Airways CEO Keith Williams, adding, that is why “we are
lobbying the EU and member states to find a solution.”

What will happen with the EU policy on airlines and ETS is far from certain.
Italy has already presented a proposal to the EU council—where member states rule—proposing
the measure be set aside until international issues are ironed out. The European
Commission and parliament would have to agree, with opposition from the latter
body seen as probable.

No specific compromise has been put forward, although limiting the extent of
the carbon emissions airlines are required to account for in EU airspace-only
is again being considered.

That could help placate some foreign airlines that are generally supportive of
a cap-and-trade program. Under the current approach, passengers flying long-haul from Europe have a higher
carbon bill when flying direct than connecting via a hub outside the ETS.
That irks the likes of Cathay Pacific Airways, who believe the airline is put
at a competitive disadvantage with its Middle East rivals, which route traffic
via hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Doha, Qatar. Mark Watson, head of environmental affairs at Cathay Pacific, points out that
a direct flight between Hong Kong and London is 16% shorter than flying via Dubai,
but the carbon cost is 75% higher. Such distortions would be eliminated under
a viable cap-and-trade plan.

The issues raging around the ETS will certainly not be settled this year, in
part because the court process will not have been completed.

And 2012 will see the industry turning its attention, again, to the often-touted
goal of a global approach. ICAO is developing a standard for commercial aircraft CO2 emissions, to be ready
in 2013.
As part of the process, using market-based measures to greater advantage is being
examined.

Much work must be done by then though, because last year’s ICAO general assembly
meeting failed to resolve the global controversy.

A first step to reinvigorating discussions is due before year-end, when ICAO
invokes a “de minimis clause.” This would exclude some carriers who hail from
countries that contribute less than 1% of revenue passenger kilometers. The measure
is an effort to protect aerospace in emerging nations.

But even that issue is not without controversy. Tim Johnson warns that the exclusion level being proposed is too high, leaving carriers
from only 22 countries in the system. What is more, airlines competing with excluded
carriers also would likely seek exclusion on the grounds of a balanced competitive
landscape.

Meanwhile, there are other methods airlines are working on to reduce CO2 output.
The Air France demonstration flight this month between Toulouse and Paris, for
instance, generated a large part of its savings through improved operations, including
continuous descent approaches and optimized air traffic management. Those initiatives
are gaining traction globally, as are efforts to shorten flight routes.

Given the debate roiling around biofuels and the ETS, other efforts will need
to be sought, perfected and implemented ever more broadly and quickly.


http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/awst/2011/10/24/AW_10_24_2011_p28-384460.xml&headline=Skeptics%20Question%20Airline%20Biofuels

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Air France Says Come Fry With Me to Paris in Jet Fueled by Old Cooking Oil

Air France has flown an Airbus A321 passenger aircraft from Toulouse to Paris
Orly airport (354 miles) with a fuel mix comprising 50% used cooking oil in both
engines. They claim this was the “greenest” ever, due to the low carbon fuel,
and due to helpful air traffic control and continuous descent approach (CDA) the
plane flew the shortest available route. All this may have cut CO2 emissions to
54 grams per passenger per kilometre, about half the usual level.


13.10.2011 (Bloomberg)

Air France SA today flew an Airbus A321 passenger aircraft from Toulouse to Paris’s
Orly airport with a fuel mix comprising 50 percent used cooking oil.

The 80-minute, 354-mile (570-kilometer) journey was the world’s greenest commercial
flight, Toulouse, France-based Airbus said today in an e-mailed statement.

Besides using biofuel, the plane, which can carry more than 200 passengers, flew
the shortest available route using a more- efficient continuous descent approach,
Airbus said. That helped cut in half the overall emissions of carbon dioxide,
according to the statement.

Airlines on July 1 won approval from ASTM International, the U.S. technical standards
body, to fly passenger planes using fuel made from inedible plants and organic
waste mixed with petroleum-derived fuel. Approval allows for blends of up to 50
percent biofuel. Since then, airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Finnair
Oyj have flown using such blends.

More efficient air traffic management could result in a decrease of 10 percent
in aircraft fuel consumption, according to the statement, as well as “significant”
reductions in CO2 and noise emissions.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-13/air-france-flies-from-toulouse-to-paris-with-used-cooking-oil.html

 

see also

Air France and Airbus complete green commercial flight
 
14th October 2011
 

French carrier Air France and aircraft manufacturer Airbus have completed the
world’s greenest commercial flight by combining the latest fuel and air traffic
management (ATM) technologies, the companies announced this week.

A flight from Toulouse-Blagnac to Paris-Orly, using an Airbus A321 had been able
to demonstrate the halving of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by the aircraft, compared with a regular flight.

The commercial flight combined for the first time the use of a mixture comprising
half biofuels in each engine, optimised ATM and efficient continuous descent approach
(CDA) to reduce CO2 emissions.

Combining these technologies helped half the overall CO2 emissions to 54 grams per passenger per kilometre. This was equivalent to a
fuel efficiency of 2.2 l of fuel per passenger over 100 km.

“We are proud of the success achieved by this innovative project, which is a
synthesis of our many initiatives in the area of sustainable development. This
fully optimised green flight was further proof of Air France’s commitment to combine
air transport growth with controlled CO2 emissions,” Air France executive VP for organisation and corporate social responsibility
Bertrand Lebel said in a statement.

“This flight was the perfect example of Airbus’ global approach towards continuously
reducing aviation’s CO2 footprint. This is not just a biofuel flight but the first flight that really
puts into practice elements in the Airbus roadmap, such as biofuels, optimised
ATM and green navigation,” head of Airbus environmental affairs Andrea Debbane added.

Biofuel is one solution for reducing overall CO2 emissions. Airbus’ alternative fuel strategy is to speed up its commercialisation
through sustainable biofuel value chains. Owing to several test flights and collaboration
with the fuels standards bodies, the use of 50% biofuel blends have been authorised
in commercial flights.

Further, a more efficient ATM system could also help reduce the amount of fuel
burned by aircraft and therefore the CO2 emitted. Airbus said it strongly supported the streamlining of ATM and has launched
a new subsidiary company, called ‘Airbus ProSky’, dedicated to the development
and support of modern ATM systems to achieve the highest operational efficiencies
with more direct routings, resulting in around 10% less aircraft fuel consumption,
as well as significant reductions in CO2 and noise emissions.

Meanwhile, CDA was becoming more widespread as a way to reduce fuel burn. During
a CDA procedure, the aircraft would descend continuously, avoiding level flight
prior to the final approach and requiring significantly less engine thrust and
therefore less fuel burn.

http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/air-france-and-airbus-complete-green-commercial-flight-2011-10-14

Read more »

Jeff Gazzard on “Are biofuel flights good news for the environment?”


This is a comment from Jeff Gazzard, from the Aviation Environment Federation,
responsing to the Guardian’s page entitled “Are biofuel flights good news for
the environment?”  It’s worth the read!

It comes after both the Thomson flight on 6th October, using 50% used cooking
oil in one engine (
Thomson link) – and the announcement on 11th October that Virgin hopes to get fuel supplies
from the waste gases emitted from steel production. (
Virgin link

 

Jeff Gazzard

The main purpose behind Thomson’s flight from Birmingham last week was to test
one engine in isolation on a waste cooking oil-derived biofuel from a food processing
factory in the United States. This will give them an important insight into any
maintenance or engineering issues that may arise, which is a sensible test programme
in my view.

Of course there are PR objectives but at least Thomson are willing to discuss
the issues surrounding sustainability and I went along to this event at Birmingham
airport where I learnt 2 things:

1. Thomson rejected one type of fuel produced at the US plant, which belongs
to Tyson Foods, made from rendered animal waste, tallow, as unsustainable because
of land use pressures back up the meat production chain. This is a decision I
can understand and support

2. There is not, and never will be, enough waste cooking oil to make even the
smallest of dents in aviation’s carbon footprint!

Right now, aviation biofuel is simply a PR-led device to frame the debate and
divert attention away from the other 99.9% of aviation’s damaging CO2 emissions.

Just look at today’s announcement from our very own Knight of Biofuel PR, Sir
Richard Branson. Very soon apparently, giant machines will suck the effluent gases
from steel making into huge chambers; then extract the carbon monoxide from this
mix and turn this gas into alcohol; and then into sustainable aviation biofuel.
Et voila!

In the last few years, Branson has touted sustainable aviation biofuel from the
babassu nut, a South American palm: whatever happend to that route, Richard?

We then had an investment in a company called Gevo who claim to be able to make
cheap bio-butanol and then turn that into a jet fuel. How many litres of sustainable
biofuel have yet reached your Virgin Atlantic aircraft from this supplier, Richard?

Sir Richard may yet wish to investigate whether base metals can be turned into
gold. He may have more success.

Let’s look at some facts.

One potential aviation biofuel supplier is the US-based company, Solazyme. Solazyme’s
technology, which uses algae to convert biomass to oil using indirect photosynthesis,
once scaled up full commercial production, could supply around 50-100 million
US gallons per year of cost-competitive jet biofuel in the $60-80 a barrel range,
according to media coverage. Solazyme already has in place contracts with the
US Navy and Air Force to supply its’ jet biofuel product.

Some mathematics – the entire aviation industry would require at least 2810 million
barrels by 2030 at current growth rates. At 42 gallons per barrel that’s roughly
118,000 million gallons. Solazyme could provide 0.08% of that annual requirement.
It will have to get cracking, as Solazyme currently produces very little commercial
biofuel at all apart from small scale test quantities.

Some more mathematics – getting this much aviation fuel from a biomass-to-liquid
route would require 254 milliion hectares of woody energy crops.

Providing it all from jatropha (soooooo last year!) would require 477 million
hectares or 34% of the world’s current arable land area.

Algae production would need 31,000 production facilities of 1,000 hectares each
or 2% of the world’s current arable area.

Ethanol production (converted to aviation spec fuel) from Brazilian-type sugar
cane would need 185 million hectares equivalent to 13% of current global arable
land.

Now I really do wish that there was a truly sustainable biomass source out there
that had a zero carbon footprint – who wouldn’t? But after removing the hype,
there isn’t.

The aviation industry wants us to believe that future flights will waft along
on aircraft seemingly powered by giant air fresheners suspended beneath the wings,
emitting the fragrance of your choice. Not so, I’m afraid.

But let’s be positive. Better brains than mine actually have the answer: tough
constraints on aviation emissions growth. And maybe 10% biofuel by 2050. Please
simply search the web for the UK Committee on Climate Change seminal report “Meeting
the UK Aviation target – options for reducing emissions to 2050″ first published
in December 2009.

It’s a cracking read, Sir Richard.

Jeff Gazzard

Aviation Environment Federation

www.aef.org.uk 

 

 

The Guardian’s “Are biofuel flights good news for the environment?” page, by
Leo Hickman from Ask Leo and Lucy,
is at

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2011/oct/11/biofuel-flights-good-environment?CMP=twt_fd

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The only way to fry? First commercial British flight fuelled by used chip fat is met by naked protesters

In response to the Thomson biofuel flight, using 50% used cooking oil in one
engine, three Plane Stupid activists staged a naked protest – showing that biofuels
are not green, and the Thomson PR exercise is bare faced cheek. Thomson intends,
after a 6 week gap, to have many more biofuel flights in 2012. They hope to use
used cooking oil, but the airline may have to use other fuels, as it is not likely
to get enough of the oil – which is already much in demand.

7.10.2011  (Daily Mail)
Not red faced: Protesters from Plane Stupid at Birmingham airport protesting against the UK's first commercial flight using biofuel because of the damage it does to the rainforest

Not red faced: Protesters from Plane Stupid at Birmingham airport protesting
against the UK’s first commercial flight using biofuel because of the damage it
does to the rainforest

– Plane flew from Birmingham airport to Lanzarote

– ‘Biofuel production killing rainforests,’ say protesters

By Gavin Allen

A planeload of British holidaymakers have made aviation history by flying to
Lanzarote on a plane fuelled by used chip pan oil.

The Thomson Airways flight from Birmingham airport was the first UK commercial
biofuels flight ever from a UK airport.

One of the engines on the twin- engined Boeing 757 flight was operated on a 50%
blend of ‘Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids’, produced from used cooking oil,
and 50% Jet A1 fuel.
You're not under a vest: A Plane Stupid protester is led away by police after the scenes at Birmingham Airport

You’re not under a vest: A Plane Stupid protester is led away by police after
the scenes at Birmingham airport

But environmental protesters stripped naked and covered themselves in red body
paint in a bid to disrupt the launch.

Calling themselves Plane Stupid they said that rainforests were being wrecked
to make way for biofuel plantations.

The cooking oil used for the Thomson flights is collected from the kitchens of
hotels and restaurants and then goes through a special processing treatment.

Carl Gissing, director of customer service at Thomson Airways, admitted that
the biofuel cost around five to six times the price of aviation fuel, but said
the airline was prepared to ‘put its money where our mouth is’ because it believed
in sustainable biofuels.

Mr Gissing said: ‘We are proud to be leading the way with the first commercial
biofuel flights and we hope it will make people sit up and take notice.’

Mr Gissing said the move was designed to make a statement which it was hoped
would lead to industry and governments investing in developing fuels which would
reduce carbon emissions.

After today’s light, carrying 232 passengers, there will be a six-week gap before
Thomson starts a full programme of biofuel flights in 2012 from Birmingham Airport.

Dirk Konemeijer, managing director of skyNRG, which supplies the biofuel, said
it made sense to utilise used cooking oil because it was a waste product which
couldn’t be used for anything else.  [This is untrue]

It was not economically viable at present to supply the whole of the aviation
industry with the fuel and that was why government support was needed.  [The aviation industry is, yet again, asking for subsidy from the public purse
– and this time it is for a misguided idea that does not achieve its stated ambitions,
and is very environmentally and socially damaging].

Long-term other technology was necessary and in three to four years a totally
new fuel could come along. [Cloud cuckoo land again.  Where is this magic substance to come from? Why should
anyone believe some remarkable chemical miracle is going to present itself?]

Joe Peacock, from Birmingham Friends of the Earth, however, said: ‘We cannot ignore the massive environmental and social problems
caused by trying to feed our addiction to fossil fuels with plant-based alternatives.’

Plane Stupid protester Chris Cooper said: ‘Thomson seem to be acknowledging that
we can’t continue business as usual in the face of the current climate emergency.

‘It’s a shame their solution is to make matters worse.

‘Vast tracts of rainforest, eco systems vital to halting climate change, are
currently being trashed to make way for biofuel plantations.

‘Land that grows food is being stolen from some of the world’s poorest people
so that it can start feeding planes. It’s a disaster.’
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2046465/First-commercial-British-flight-fueled-used-chip-fat-met-naked-protesters.html

 

 

Read more »

Camelina derived oil contributes to Spain’s first commercial biofuel flight carried out by Iberia

An Iberia Airbus A320 has flown its first commercial flight, using a blended
jet biofuel from camelina, from Madrid to Barcelona. It burned around 2,800kg
of a mixture of 75% Jet A-1 fuel and 25% camelina in both engines. The camelina
was grown in the US and supplied and processed by a variety of US companies. 
This is part of Spain’s pioneering ‘Green Flight’ programme to advance the use
of biofuels in aviation. Iberia claims the fuel cut CO2 emissions by 20%.


5.10.2011  (GreenAir Online)

 

For the first time, a blended jet biofuel sourced from the camelina sativa plant
has been used on a commercial flight. Flying from Madrid to Barcelona, an Iberia
Airbus A320 burned around 2,800kg of a mixture of 75 per cent conventional Jet
A-1 fuel and 25 per cent biofuel in both engines. The camelina was grown in the
United States and supplied by Sustainable Oils.

The camelina oil was sent from Montana to Honeywell UOP’s Houston tolling facility
in Texas where it was converted to the company’s Green Jet Fuel. The fuel was
then blended with conventional jet fuel by ASA in Mexico and evaluated and certified
by Spanish energy giant Repsol.

The flight was part of Spain’s pioneering ‘Green Flight’ programme to advance
the use of biofuels in aviation. Iberia claims the fuel mix brought a saving of
nearly 1,500kg of CO2 emissions, representing an emissions reduction of almost
20 per cent.

“The fight against climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face,
and biofuels are essential for reducing our reliance on petroleum, increasing
our competitiveness and achieving the ambitious emission reduction targets set
by the airline industry,” commented Iberia Chairman Antonio Vázquez.

Repsol was responsible for producing and delivering the fuel, which was evaluated
under high-performance conditions at its Technology Centre, one of the most advanced
fuel R&D facilities of its kind in Europe. The company has developed a strategy
to include sustainable refining and the making of clean fuels.

Iberia and Repsol say they will now consider a new initiative to advance research,
development and the use of biofuels in commercial aviation.

The link with ASA (Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares), the state-owned agency
that operates 18 airports and supplies aviation fuel from 61 outlets in Mexico,
is part of a close relationship forged between the Spanish and Mexican governments
involving the development of aviation biofuels.

Camelina sourced from the northwest United States, where it is grown as a rotational
crop, has been used in previous test flights but Iberia says it can also be cultivated
in Spain and unlike other plants used for biofuels, it can enrich the soil in
which it is grown. Airbus, which worked closely with Iberia on the flight, is
also involved with a value chain project in Romania that is seeking to develop
an aviation biofuel industry from locally-grown camelina  (see article).
 

Iberia recently signed an agreement with the Spanish Air Traffic Control and
Air Safety Services and Studies agency (SENASA) and Airbus to support the development,
production, and sustainable use of biofuels for aviation in Spain. Iberia is contributing
its airline and aircraft maintenance experience, and will carry out tests using
its engines and aircraft. The company is also participating in a research project
with AlgaEnergy aimed at obtaining biofuel from microalgae  (see article).
 

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1345

Read more »

UK first as Thomson Airways’ three-year biofuel commercial flight programme finally takes off

6.10.2011  (GreenAir online)

UK first as Thomson Airways’ three-year biofuel commercial flight programme finally
takes off 


UK first as Thomson Airways' three-year biofuel commercial flight programme finally takes off | Thomson Airways,TUI





Thomson Airways aircraft being refuelled with biofuel blend prior to flight 

 


A Thomson Airways Boeing 757-200 today conducted the UK’s first commercial flight
to use biofuel. Using a 50/50 blend of used cooking oil and conventional jet kerosene
in one engine, the aircraft will make a four-hour flight from Birmingham Airport
to Arrecife in the Canary Islands
.

The flight marks the start of regular daily flights using a dedicated aircraft
as part of trials to quantify any differences in performance or fuel burn of the
engine when compared with the non-biofuel engine. The inaugural flight was originally
scheduled for the end of July but was postponed due to “unforeseen delays” in
the fuel delivery.

Two UK environmental groups have condemned the biofuel flight as “self-seeking
and irresponsible greenwash” but the airline has hit back at the criticism.

The biofuel blend has been supplied by Netherlands-based SkyNRG, [see SkyNRG comment below] which has already supplied fuel for the KLM and Finnair biofuel flights that
took place in July. Thomson says it will work with SkyNRG and its other strategic
partners over the next three years to increase the proportion of jet biofuel it
uses and drive down the cost of the fuel.

As a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, Thomson has also pledged
to use feedstocks that do not compete with food or natural resources and have
significantly lower total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than conventional
fossil jet fuel. [ How?? ]

In addition, says the airline, once the supply chain develops, feedstocks grown
in developing areas must have a positive socio-economic benefit to local communities
and areas of high conservation value and local eco-systems must not be cleared. 
[And quite how do they propose to achieve all that, with the known problems of
indirect land use effects ??  A very laudable aspiration, but almost certainly
unachievable in practice]

Thomson and its parent TUI Travel have called on the UK government and other
European states to help accelerate the pace of development of sustainable aviation
biofuels and incentivise investment in R&D, loan guarantees and other fiscal
measures.  [That means they want subsidies and government help, which means the tax payer
pays].

However, today’s biofuel flight has been criticised by environmental groups AirportWatch
and Biofuelwatch as “dangerous greenwash”.

Thomson Airways are using spurious claims about the merits of ‘sustainable biofuels’
to try and get the Government to grant yet more financial support and preferential
treatment for the aviation industry,” said Sarah Clayton of AirportWatch. “There
is nothing sustainable about competing with other biofuel markets for the obviously
limited supplies of used cooking oil and tallow.

“This merely means that others, finding increased competition for supplies, will
then simply use more palm and soya oil instead, thus causing more forests to be
destroyed. And there is nothing sustainable about worsening existing land conflicts
in Brazil so that companies like Thomson can keep expanding.”

A spokesman for Thomson Airways said the claims made by AirportWatch and Biofuelwatch
were “totally inaccurate”.

“They wrongly state that ‘Thomson Airways have now conceded that they will have
to use virgin plant oil, initially from camelina from North America and babassu
nuts from Brazil …’. The biofuel purchased by Thomson Airways is sourced entirely
from used cooking oil. No animal tallow, camelina or babassu was used,” he said. 
[Doubtless the fuel for the first few flights was, but there is not enough used
cooking oil to go round – it is almost all already diverted to terrestrial uses. 
One or two planes can fly on it, but not many.  It is a token gesture].

The spokesman also pointed out a WWF Energy Report had recognised that bioenergy
was currently the only suitable replacement for fossil fuels in transport applications
that required liquid fuels with a high energy density such as aviation.

Christian Cull, Communications Director for TUI UK and Ireland, said: “We realise
we won’t please everyone, and that at present the aviation biofuel supply chain
is not perfect. We are sincere in our commitment and are proud to be flying with
biofuel. Whilst these are early days, we are in this for the long haul because
we believe it is the right thing to do.

Responding to the environmental groups’ claim that Thomson was using the biofuel
flights as part of a lobby effort to win more state support and subsidies for
aviation, the airline said it firmly believed the adoption of sustainable biofuels
by airlines would help achieve the UK government’s carbon budget that commits
to reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2025.   [Not if the science is to be believed, the supposed carbon savings are shown
to be hugely less than claimed, and for a huge amount of social and environmental
damage, tnot to mention a lot of money from the taxpayer, here is only a tiny
– if any – carbon saving as a result].

“We are aware of the negative impact of using biofuels irresponsibly, and that
is why Thomson Airways believes the industry must continue to work together with
initiatives such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels [about which there are many and profound criticisms and uncertainties] to find more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel,” added the Thomson spokesman.
“The aviation industry as a whole cannot stand still and do nothing.”

Jet fuel supplier SkyNRG is a joint venture made up of KLM, North Sea Group and
Spring Associates. It is advised by an independent Sustainability Board that consists
of two NGOs (including WWF-NL) [sic]  and an academic institute on sustainability issues related to the proposed
feedstock and estate selections.

SkyNRG has issued its own statement (see below) in response to the AirportWatch/Biofuelwatch
criticism.

Links:

Thomson Airways biofuel flight announcement

Thomson Airways – Sustainability at TUI

AirportWatch

Biofuelwatch

SkyNRG

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1347

============================================

 
SkyNRG reaction to AirportWatch/Biofuelwatch statement

Air travel has become an integral part of everyday life. There will be air travel,
now and in the future, as it fulfills an important social function in today’s
global society. The aviation industry acknowledges the urgency for emission reduction
and they also know there is a need to switch to alternative, renewable resources
as fossil fuels are depleting. Demand side reduction is a very effective way to
reduce fuel consumption and related green house gas emissions. But it does not
offer a complete solution to aviation related emissions, let alone energy security.
In addressing the challenge to replace fossil kerosene in a sustainable way, aviation
has no alternative but liquid hydrocarbons from bio-based (waste) sources.

We share the concerns of NGOs (and other stakeholders) when it comes to bio-energy
resources. We believe in the notion that
the impact of bioenergy on social and environmental issues may be positive or
negative depending on local conditions and the design and implementation of specific
projects
(SRREN, 2011). When done in the wrong way biomass and biofuel production systems
can have a variety of negative impacts on eco- and social systems. Greenhouse
gas emissions are just part of the problem. On the other side, well managed projects
can have a profoundly positive effect on ecosystems and social systems alike and
can include: enhanced biodiversity, soil carbon increases and improved soil productivity,
significant greenhouse reductions, less dependency on fossil energy sources, reduced
erosion (top soil and nutrient run off) effects, stimulation of local employment
and strengthening of local, regional and national economies.

SkyNRG focuses on this positive side of biofuel development. To make the right
decisions now and in the future, SkyNRG is advised by an independent Sustainability
Board, consisting of the Dutch wing of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NL),
Solidaridad, and the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht. SkyNRG
recognizes to be in a transition; the best choices today are likely to be replaced
by improved choices in the near future. We have chosen to start with Used Cooking
Oil, a waste stream, as main feedstock. We know the available volumes are limited
and that it can never replace total fossil kerosene consumption. And neither can
vegetable oils. We see current options as a first step in the right direction
and we are exploring and supporting future alternatives both in feedstock and
technology.

First steps are critical to get things going. The first launching flights, made
by carriers that are stepping up to make the difference, are essential to engage
industry, governments, customers and other stakeholders. We welcome Thomson Airways
to join us on the road towards a sustainable future for aviation
” – Dirk Kronemeijer, MD SkyNRG

On SkyNRG

SkyNRG is a joint venture of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, North Sea Group and Spring
Associates. SkyNRG’s mission is to help create a sustainable future for aviation
through actively developing a sustainable production chain for alternative aviation
fuels. Today the market for these fuels is just emerging; SkyNRG is taking the
first steps to make it a reality. Doing nothing is not an option.

—————————————————————————————————————–

Note: Some of the claims made by AirportWatch and BiofuelsWatch are inaccurate. The article
wrongly states that: “The company that is refining Thomson’s Biofuels states on
their website that they are looking for Palm and Soya as suitable feedstock. This
is not the case, the plant merely has the technical capability to process different
types vegetable oils, hence the statement. Today the plant is running on waste
oils only and has no intention to switch.

 ================================================================

 

AirportWatch is pleased if SkyNRG is not using palm oil.  The concern comes from
knowledge that palm oil is being considered, or used, by others. For example in
this GreenAir online article below:

 

Lufthansa will get its biofuel from Neste Oil, with palm oil likely to be sneaked
into the mix

 
from
 
 
Lufthansa takes off towards a new era of sustainably fuelled regular commercial
scheduled flights 

 

Mon 18 July 2011 (GreenAir Online story)

This is a very worrying article about biofuel Lufthansa will be getting from
Neste Oil, which is well known for using large quantities of palm oil.  It appears
that though Lufthansa is saying all the suitable greenwash things about its flights
at present, using only camelina, jatropha and animal fats, as Neste Oil deals
largely with palm oil, it is likely that so called “sustainably sourced” palm
oil will get into the mix, and Lufthansa is not bothered about that.
  
Click here to view full story…

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1299

 



Read more »

Green campaigners condemn Thomson Airways’ biofuels flight

The UK’s first commercial flight to be powered by biofuels headed off to the
Canary Islands and a storm of controversy. The flight from Birmingham had one
engine running on a mixture of 50% standard fuel and 50% biofuel made from waste
cooking oil. Environmental campaigners said the pilot project was a gimmick that
would end up harming the environment. FoE said biofuels won’t make flying any
greener, but their production is wrecking rainforests, pushing up food prices
and causing yet more climate-changing emissions
.

also   6.10.2011

UK first as Thomson Airways’ three-year biofuel commercial flight programme finally
takes off
(GreenAir online)

also   6.10.2011

Thomson Airways’ test biofuels flight from Birmingham to Lanzarote is a hollow
PR stunt

(Friends of the Earth)

also

Thomson Airways under fire for “greenwash” after biofuel flight   (Click Green)

Biofuelwatch and AirportWatch comment

Comment on Thomson flight

SkyNRG response to AirportWatch comment

Response from SkyNRG

 

Green campaigners condemn Thomson Airways’ biofuels flight

Service to the Canary Islands that will be powered partly by waste from cooking
oil is criticised as ‘hollow PR stunt’

  •  

     

    see also

     

     

    Thomson Airways’ test biofuels flight from Birmingham to Lanzarote is a hollow
    PR stunt

    Date Added: 6th October 2011

    Thomson Airways’ test biofuels flight from Birmingham to Lanzarote is a hollow
    PR stunt that paves the way for rainforest destruction. Thomson today launches
    the 1st UK commercial flight run on biofuels. The biofuels Thomson will now use
    include virgin plant oil from the US and babassu nuts from Brazil. Both are in
    short supply so Thomson is likely to use unsustainable alternatives. Their publicity
    aims to persuade the travelling public and government, erroneously, that these
    biofuel flights produce less CO2 and are “greener” than usual.

    Click here to view full story…

     

     

  • Posted: Thursday, October 6th, 2011. Filed in Biofuels News.

    Read more »

    Thomson Airways’ test biofuels flight from Birmingham to Lanzarote is a hollow PR stunt

    THOMSON LAUNCHES BIOFUEL FLIGHTS – FRIENDS OF THE EARTH REACTION

    6.10.2011  (Friends of the Earth press release)
    Thomson Airways’ test biofuels flight from Birmingham to Lanzarote is a hollow
    PR stunt that paves the way for rainforest destruction, Friends of the Earth warns
    today as the company launches the first UK commercial flight run on biofuels.
    Thomson had originally planned to launch a test flight at the end of July running
    on used cooking oil, but the company was unable to source enough fuel in time
    and had to postpone. Friends of the Earth says it would take the average person
    about a hundred years to save up enough chip fat to fly from Birmingham to Lanzarote
    on a one-way flight.
    The biofuels Thomson will now use include virgin plant oil from the US and babassu
    nuts from Brazil. Both are in very short supply, and the charity is concerned
    the company will use unsustainable alternatives when it launches daily biofuel
    flights next year. Thomson’s parent company TUI is already looking into soya and
    palm oil for its Thomson Airways fleet – and these are known drivers of rainforest
    deforestation.
    Research has shown that biofuels from crops could be causing more climate-changing
    emissions than they save. Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to
    halt airport expansion and develop greener alternatives to flying such as better
    rail services to replace short-haul flights.
    Friends of the Earth’s biofuels campaigner Kenneth Richter said:
    “Biofuels won’t make flying any greener – their production is wrecking rainforests,
    pushing up food prices and causing yet more climate-changing emissions.
    “It’s not surprising Thomson couldn’t find enough used cooking oil to fly to
    Lanzarote – it would take about a hundred years for each passenger to save up
    enough chip fat.
    “The Government must curb future demand for flights by halting airport expansion,
    promoting video conferencing, and developing faster, better and affordable rail
    services.”
    ENDS
    Notes to editor
     
      1.  More information about today’s flight can be found on Thomson’s website:
    http://www.thomson.co.uk/editorial/faqs/flights/thomson-airways-biofuel-initiative.html


      2.  TUI’s Position paper on the introduction of biofuels into the Thomson Airways
    fleet: www.aef.org.uk/downloads/TUI_(Thomson)_Aviation_Biofuels_Briefing_Paper%20Sept%202011.pdf 

      3.  Calculation workings: In the UK about 1.6 litres of collectable waste cooking
    oil are produced per person per year. When collected and turned into fuel that
    volume is reduced to approx. 1 litre of biofuel per person per year due to filtering,
    cleaning and processing. A flight from Birmingham to Arrecife uses about 100 litres
    of aviation fuel per passenger. Therefore Friends of the Earth calculates that
    one person would have to save chip fat for about 100 years before they had enough
    to fly themself on a one way flight.

    4.    A study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy this year found
    that biofuels could be causing more climate-changing emissions than they save:
    http://www.ieep.eu/assets/786/Analysis_of_ILUC_Based_on_the_National_Renewable_Energy_Action_Plans.pdf
     

     5.  Friends of the Earth recently slammed plans by the European aviation industry
    to fuel its planes with two million tonnes of biofuels by 2020 http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/aviation_biofuels_target_22062011.html
     
    A Friends of the Earth Europe briefing ‘Flying in the Face of Facts: Greenwashing
    the aviation industry with biofuels’ reveals the likely environmental impacts
    of this target.

    http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2011/FoEE_Flying_in_the_face_of_facts_June2011.pdf
     

    6.  Friends of the Earth believes the environment is for everyone. We want a
    healthy planet and a good quality of life for all those who live on it. We inspire
    people to act together for a thriving environment. More than 90 per cent of our
    income comes from individuals so we rely on donations to continue our vital work.
    For further information visit www.foe.co.ukhttp://www.foe.co.uk

    .
    Also  AirportWatch & Biofuelwatch comment below

     
     
    compared to the sort of hype that the aviation industry wants for its PR stunt:

     

    Chips away: Britain’s first bio-fuel passenger flight is scheduled for take off
    tomorrow

    5.10.2011 (Daily Mail)

    Thomson plane


    You might have think that cooking oil is good for nothing more than frying chips.

    But Thomson Airways has found a whole new use for it – and is set to fly customers
    from Birmingham to Arrecife tomorrow, on a mixture of waste fat and jet fuel.

    This supposedly more eco-friendly service was set to take flight last July, but
    has seen delays over testing processes and safety clearance.

    Thomson claims the eco-friendly biofuel has the potential to reduce aviation
    emissions by up to 80 per cent in the future, and plans to use biofuel across
    its whole fleet within the next three years.

    Thomson Airways managing director Chris Browne says:

    ‘Sustainable biofuels offer us the opportunity to improve our own individual
    environmental performance as well as contributing to the UK’s carbon reduction
    target.’

    Aviation minister Theresa Villiers echoes his sentiment, saying: ‘The British
    government believes that sustainable biofuels have a role to play in efforts to
    tackle climate change, particularly in sectors where no other viable low carbon
    energy source has been identified – as is the case with aviation.’

    The aircraft will run on a 50-50 mix of Jet A1 fuel and Hydroprocessed Esters
    and Fatty Acids (HEFA) fuel made from used cooking oil.

    Sustainable biofuel costs significantly more than regular jet fuel  – a stumbling
    block that is preventing it from currently being widely used in the aviation industry
    – but Thomson owners Tui Travel hope it will help them to reduce carbon emissions
    by 6% from 2008 to 2014.

    Thomson has also pointed out that using biofuel can create work for people in
    developing countries, stating: ‘There are many different potential plant and waste
    sources for sustainable aviation biofuel, meaning that it can be grown in locations
    almost worldwide, and can therefore create work and income for people in developing
    countries.’

    And nervous flyers should not worry. Thomson promises the ride will be ’a normal
    flight for you, just one that’s lighter on the environment’.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2045483/UKs-biofuel-passenger-flight-takes-tomorrow.html?ITO=1490

     

     

    and
     
     
    comment from Biofuelwatch and AirportWatch

    Thomson’s inaugural biofuel flight condemned as self-seeking and irresponsible
    greenwash

    – biojet flight sparks controversy as airline pleads for a bail-out on fuel costs


    Aviation and biofuel campaigners have condemned Thomson Airways’ commercial UK
    biofuel flights, scheduled to begin on Thursday, 6th October, as dangerous greenwash. 
    Thomson are the first company to launch

    commercial flights with biofuel blends in the UK.

    Thomson’s parent company, the TUI Group, is giving the strong impression that
    these biofuel flights are “green”. Their publicity aims to persuade the travelling
    public, and the government, that these biofuel flights produce lower carbon emissions,
    and are part of a real effort by the company to produce less environmental damage.

    Their ‘biojet’ launch comes despite growing awareness of the serious negative
    impact which Europe’s demand for biofuels already has on forests and climate change,
    and mounting evidence that biofuel production raises

    food prices, causes hunger and triggers land-grabbing in the Global South.

    Thomson is also using these flights as part of a concerted lobby effort to win
    more state support and subsidies for aviation, this time to pay for biofuels (1).
    Seeking a way to boost their profits, airlines must view state aid that helps
    protect against fuel cost rises an attractive prize, particularly when it can
    be dressed up as climate-friendly.

    Thomson originally planned to launch biofuel flights on 28th July, mixing only
    biofuels from Used Cooking Oil and tallow with kerosene, but had to delay those
    plans because they could not source enough used chip fat.  They have now conceded
    that they will have to also use virgin plant oil, initially from camelina from
    North America and babassu nuts from Brazil, refined in Louisiana.  Biofuels from
    camelina and babassu palm nuts are both in very short supply, with camelina yields
    being low and unreliable (2). 

     
    The company that is refining Thomson’s biofuels states on their website that
    they are looking at soya and palm oil as ‘suitable’ future feedstocks (3). Both
    are key drivers of tropical deforestation. as well as driving up food prices.

    Industrial biofuel production from babassu is aggravating long-standing social
    and land-conflicts in Brazil, where up to 400,000 women and their families depend
    on traditional babassu harvesting and media reports have warned that energy companies
    are curtailing the families’ access to the trees, thus threatening their livelihoods
    (4).

    Sarah Clayton from AirportWatch states: “Thomson Airways are using spurious claims
    about the merits of ‘sustainable biofuels’ to try and get the Government to grant
    yet more financial support and preferential

    treatment for the aviation industry.  There is nothing sustainable about competing
    with other biofuel markets for the obviously limited supplies of used cooking
    oil and tallow. This merely means that others, finding

    increased competition for supplies, will then simply use more palm and soya oil
    instead, thus causing more forests to be destroyed.  And there is nothing sustainable
    about worsening existing land conflicts in Brazil so

    that companies like Thomson can keep expanding.”

    Rob Palgrave from Biofuelwatch adds: “The word ‘sustainability’ has been used
    by virtually every sector and every company investing in all types of biofuels,
    regardless of the effects on people, climate and the environment.  Thomson Airways
    are pushing for more government support for biofuel just weeks after a report
    published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has confirmed the major
    role which biofuels are playing in food price rises and thus the growing number
    of people going hungry worldwide and called for an end to biofuel support across
    Europe and North America.”

    In July 2011, the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition
    of the FAO Committee on World Food Security confirmed that biofuels have played
    a significant role in the food price spike of 2007-2009 as well as in the current
    food price rises (5).

    Last month, the Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency challenged
    the EC to correct the accounting anomaly that means biofuels’ greenhouse gas emissions
    are being under-estimated, saying the current methodology is based on an false
    assumption involving double counting of carbon savings “and results in a serious
    accounting error” (6)

    The Thomson flight comes shortly after NOAA data (7) show that globally, August
    2011 had the second hottest land temperatures of any August since records began,
    and 2010 had the joint warmest combined land and sea

    temperatures, equal to 2005. The industry and government recognise that aviation’s
    greenhouse gas emissions need to be substantially cut, but a misguided, misinformed
    and damaging dash for biofuel is not the answer.

    The only way for aviation to sustainably cut greenhouse gases is to reduce flying.

    Notes:

    (1). For a copy of TUI’s Position paper on the introduction of biofuels

    into the Thomson Airways fleet, see

    www.aef.org.uk/downloads/TUI_(Thomson)_Aviation_Biofuels_Briefing_Paper%20Sept%202011.pdf

    The paper states that amongst the objectives of the company’s biofuel

    project are: “To engage with the UK Government & EU Institutions to ensure

    (a) The co-development of a policy framework incentivising adoption of an

    aviation biojet infrastructure; (b) the roll out of effective incentives

    e.g. research and development funding, loan guarantees or other fiscal

    measures; (c) the development and negotiation of co-funding opportunities

    with key stakeholders to enable an increase in volume commitment in the

    longer term.”

    (2). Camelina is an oilseed crop which is currently grown on only a small

    scale in North America.  According to US Government figures, the average

    yield for camelina in 2010 was 1029 lbs/acre, which is 1.15 tonnes/hectare

    www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Montana/Publications/Press_Releases_Crops/camelina.pdf

    By comparison, average rapeseed oils yields are 3 tonnes/hectare.

    (3). See: http://dynamicfuelsllc.com/wp-news/frequently-ask-questions/.

    The biofuels which Thomson Airways intend to use are sourced via a Dutch

    commercial partnership, SkyNRG but refined in Louisiana by Dynamic Fuels

    LLC.

    (4). http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=104818 .  Note that Tecbio, the

    biofuel company referred to in the article, has signed a cooperation

    agreement with Boeing who are partners in Thomson Airways’ biofuel project

    and are thus the likely suppliers of the babassu nut oil.

    (5). See:

    www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE-price-volatility-and-food-security-report-July-2011.pdf

    (6). http://www.eea.europa.eu/about-us/governance/scientific-committee/sc-opinions/opinions-on-scientific-issues/sc-opinion-on-greenhouse-gas

    (7).  NOAA   National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    * * * * * * * * *
    And then response by Sky NRG to the AirportWatch comment:
     
     
     
    SkyNRG reaction to AirportWatch/Biofuelwatch statement

    Air travel has become an integral part of everyday life. There will be air travel,
    now and in the future, as it fulfills an important social function in today’s
    global society. The aviation industry acknowledges the urgency for emission reduction
    and they also know there is a need to switch to alternative, renewable resources
    as fossil fuels are depleting. Demand side reduction is a very effective way to
    reduce fuel consumption and related green house gas emissions. But it does not
    offer a complete solution to aviation related emissions, let alone energy security.
    In addressing the challenge to replace fossil kerosene in a sustainable way, aviation
    has no alternative but liquid hydrocarbons from bio-based (waste) sources.

    We share the concerns of NGOs (and other stakeholders) when it comes to bio-energy
    resources. We believe in the notion that
    the impact of bioenergy on social and environmental issues may be positive or
    negative depending on local conditions and the design and implementation of specific
    projects
    (SRREN, 2011). When done in the wrong way biomass and biofuel production systems
    can have a variety of negative impacts on eco- and social systems. Greenhouse
    gas emissions are just part of the problem. On the other side, well managed projects
    can have a profoundly positive effect on ecosystems and social systems alike and
    can include: enhanced biodiversity, soil carbon increases and improved soil productivity,
    significant greenhouse reductions, less dependency on fossil energy sources, reduced
    erosion (top soil and nutrient run off) effects, stimulation of local employment
    and strengthening of local, regional and national economies.

    SkyNRG focuses on this positive side of biofuel development. To make the right
    decisions now and in the future, SkyNRG is advised by an independent Sustainability
    Board, consisting of the Dutch wing of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NL),
    Solidaridad, and the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht. SkyNRG
    recognizes to be in a transition; the best choices today are likely to be replaced
    by improved choices in the near future. We have chosen to start with Used Cooking
    Oil, a waste stream, as main feedstock. We know the available volumes are limited
    and that it can never replace total fossil kerosene consumption. And neither can
    vegetable oils. We see current options as a first step in the right direction
    and we are exploring and supporting future alternatives both in feedstock and
    technology.

    First steps are critical to get things going. The first launching flights, made
    by carriers that are stepping up to make the difference, are essential to engage
    industry, governments, customers and other stakeholders. We welcome Thomson Airways
    to join us on the road towards a sustainable future for aviation
    ” – Dirk Kronemeijer, MD SkyNRG

    On SkyNRG

    SkyNRG is a joint venture of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, North Sea Group and Spring
    Associates. SkyNRG’s mission is to help create a sustainable future for aviation
    through actively developing a sustainable production chain for alternative aviation
    fuels. Today the market for these fuels is just emerging; SkyNRG is taking the
    first steps to make it a reality. Doing nothing is not an option.

    —————————————-
    Note: Some of the claims made by AirportWatch and BiofuelsWatch are inaccurate. The article
    wrongly states that: “The company that is refining Thomson’s Biofuels states on
    their website that they are looking for Palm and Soya as suitable feedstock. This
    is not the case, the plant merely has the technical capability to process different
    types vegetable oils, hence the statement. Today the plant is running on waste
    oils only and has no intention to switch.
     
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    * * * * * * * * *
     
    see also earlier:
     
     

    Brussels slammed for bad science on biofuels

    Date Added: 1st October 2011

    Environmental NGOs have written to the EC President, José Manuel Barroso, demanding
    action on 5 scientific studies that question the energy benefits of biofuels,
    as a row over a land use report by the EU’s scientific advisors escalates. The
    best avialable science was dismissed by the EU. The 5 world-class studies for
    the EU all agree the Indirect Land Use Change effects of biofuels “could not only
    negate the expected carbon savings, but even lead to an increase in emissions.”

    Click here to view full story…



     

     

     

     

    Out of the Deep Fat Fryer … Thomson Airways and its first biofuel flight

    Date Added: 30th September 2011

    With Thomson Airways re-launching their attempts to get regular biofuels flights
    from Birmingham Airport, green campaigners are raising concerns that new “Sustainable
    Aviation Biofuels” are actually likely to be more damaging for the environment.
    After dropping plans to fuel flights with used cooking oil due to insufficient
    supply, Thomson are now going to be using virgin plant oil from a number of sources,
    none of which should properly be classified as sustainable.

    Click here to view full story…



     

     

    Thomson Airways plans its biofuel flight on 6th October, using a mix of oils
    as sufficient used cooking oil was not available

    Date Added: 29th September 2011

    Thomson will be flying its delayed first biofuel flight on 6th Oct from Birmingham
    to Arrecife. It was delayed from 28th July when supplies of used cooking oil could
    not be obtained in time. Thomson has put out a position paper on biofuels. Like
    other airlines, is getting a test flight with biofuels, hoping to persuade its
    customers and government that it is being “green” and environmentally responsible.
    Thomson hopes to have a daily flight using biofuel.

    Click here to view full story…

     


     

     

    Posted: Thursday, October 6th, 2011. Filed in Biofuels News.

    Read more »

    Brussels slammed for bad science on biofuels

    Environmental NGOs have written to the EC President, José Manuel Barroso, demanding
    action on 5 scientific studies that question the energy benefits of biofuels,
    as a row over a land use report by the EU’s scientific advisors escalates. The
    best avialable science was dismissed by the EU. The 5 world-class studies for
    the EU all agree the Indirect Land Use Change effects of biofuels “could not only
    negate the expected carbon savings, but even lead to an increase in emissions.”

    Tweet

    28.9.2011  (EurActiv)

    Several environmental NGOs have written to the European Commission President,
    José Manuel Barroso, demanding action on five scientific studies that question
    the clean energy benefits of biofuels, as a row over a land use report by the
    EU’s scientific advisors escalates.

    “We are writing to seek assurance that the Commission is giving due consideration
    to science in its energy policy, after several instances in which the best available
    science was dismissed,”
    the letter says.

    In September 2009, Barroso made a speech calling for “a fundamental review of the way European institutions access and
    use scientific advice”.

    But the letter cites five world-class studies for the EU which, it says, all
    agree that the Indirect Land Use Change (
    ILUC) effects of biofuels “could not only negate the expected carbon savings, but
    even lead to an increase in emissions.”

    The most recent, a report by the scientific committee of the European Environment Agency (EEA) slammed the official EU policy that biofuels are ‘carbon neutral’ as a
    “serious accounting error” with “immense” potential consequences.

    The 19 scientists on the panel decided that it neglected the fact that other carbon-absorbing plants would have grown
    on fertile land used by the biofuels, so any carbon absorption from the biofuels
    themselves was being “double-counted”.

    The letter’s signatories include ActionAid, Birdlife, ClientEarth, European Environmental
    Bureau, Oxfam, Transport and Environment and Wetlands International.

    “I can only rejoice that these seven NGO’s have done that [sent the letter],”
    Dr Pierre Laconte, the vice-chair of the EEA panel responsible for the report
    told EurActiv.

    A spokesperson for Mr Barroso would only say that “the president has received
    the letter and there will be an answer in due time.”

    The missive was prompted by a statement from an EU spokesperson on September 14th that research by the acclaimed Princeton scholar Tim Searchinger
    which underpinned the EEA’s report, “seems not to be an actual good contribution
    to the debate” and had been “rebutted by other institutions.”

    “We have used Tim Searchinger’s work and we invited him to address us – as we
    did industry people,” Dr Detlef Sprinz, the chairman of the EEA panel, told EurActiv.
    “I find his work rather important,” he added. “It has been published in some of
    the best journals that we have.”

    Contested science

    The science involved in the report is of crucial importance. On Page 8, the EEA
    report cites the IEA as saying that biofuels could provide 20% of the world’s
    energy by 2050, and the UNFCCC claiming that bioenergy could supply 800 exajoules
    of energy per year (EJ/yr).

    But today’s entire global cultivatable land for food, feed, fibre and wood only
    has a chemical energy value of 230 (EJ/yr), just over a quarter of that figure.

    The implication, says Dr Laconte, could be a complete collapse of the world’s
    rural economies, as they are displaced by carbon-emitting feedstock-based biofuels.

    “Agriculture could be wiped out and therefore the food it produces, leading to
    a problem of food scarcity,” he said.

    The problem was one of “decisions on biofuels that have been taken, which are
    not easy to change and which have huge consequences.”

    “People have praised a method of saving emissions which has proved not to be
    true,” he said.  

    Since 2008, EU member states have been obliged to raise the share of biofuels in the transport energy mix to 10% by 2020.

    But because this can count towards their separate target of a 20% share for renewables
    in the overall energy mix by 2020, the EU says that biofuels will ultimately account
    for 2.5% of overall energy, or an eighth of the total.

    Environmentalists cite an EEA report to argue that the figure would be even higher if it counted, for example, the
    annual 4.4 million tonnes of bioliquids for heating that can make up member states’
    renewable targets. These can be provided by feedstock-based biofuels such as palm
    oil.

    Asked by EurActiv whether the EU’s 20% renewables target was legitimate and could
    be trusted, Tim Searchinger, the scientist at the heart of the row, replied: “No,
    absolutely not.”

    “The EU energy targets calls for a little bit more than half of all the targets
    to be met by bioenergy,” he said. “You could do that by chopping down your forests
    and putting them in a [biomass] power plant, or turning the Amazon into a parking
    lot for wood pellets.”

    Forests in America were already being chopped down for such wood pellet fuel
    for the EU, according to Searchinger.

    “It’s wrong, and everybody knows it,” he said. “Carbon accumulating forests absorb
    a third or more of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – on a gross basis. If
    you just get rid of that sink its doing as much to increase global warming as
    increasing your [fuel] source.”

    Arthur Neslen

    http://www.euractiv.com/climate-environment/brussels-slammed-bad-science-biofuels-news-507897

    Posted: Saturday, October 1st, 2011. Filed in Biofuels News.

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    US Air Force to buy 11,000 gallons of alcohol-to-jet fuel from GEVO

    A US company called GEVO in Silsbee, Texas, is converting alcohol (made from
    wheat) to isobutanol, and then converting this into alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel.
    It will provide the USAF with  up to 11,000 gallons of ‘alcohol-to-jet’ (ATJ)
    fuel, which will be used to support engine testing and a feasibility flight demonstration
    using an A-10 aircraft. Gevo then hopes to become “a supplier of homegrown and
    renewable jet fuel to our armed services.”

     

    Gevo Awarded Contract to Supply Jet Fuel to U.S. Air Force

    28.9.2011

    Air Force Purchase is for Jet Engine Testing and Feasibility Flight Demonstration 

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (BUSINESS WIRE) — Gevo, Inc. a leading renewable chemicals
    and advanced biofuels company, has been awarded a contract by the Defense Logistics
    Agency (DLA) to supply jet fuel to the U.S. Air Force (USAF). DLA sources and
    provides nearly 100% of the consumable items America’s military needs to operate.
    The contract, worth a possible total of $600,000, provides that Gevo will supply
    the USAF with up to 11,000 gallons of ‘alcohol-to-jet’ (ATJ) based jet fuel, which
    will be used to support engine testing and a feasibility flight demonstration
    using an A-10 aircraft.

    “The USAF is committed to positioning itself to integrate cost competitive alternative
    aviation fuels for up to half of its domestic needs by 2016,” commented Christopher
    Ryan, Ph.D., president and COO of Gevo. “Once the USAF certifies our ATJ fuel,
    we believe we will have an excellent opportunity to become a supplier of homegrown
    and renewable jet fuel to our armed services.”

    This is the first ATJ fuel contract awarded by the DLA. The contract stipulates
    that Gevo will supply the USAF with 7,000 gallons of ATJ fuel. The fuel will be
    shipped to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where the Air Force will finish lab
    testing and begin engine testing. DLA has the option to order up to an additional
    4,000 gallons at the end of the contract.

    The ATJ fuel is scheduled to be produced from isobutanol at Gevo’s hydrocarbon
    processing demonstration plant in Silsbee, Texas, in partnership with South Hampton
    Resources. The company plans to begin shipping product to the USAF in the first
    quarter of 2012.

    About Gevo

    Gevo is converting existing ethanol plants into biorefineries to make renewable
    building block products for the chemical and fuel industries. The company plans
    to convert renewable raw materials into isobutanol and renewable hydrocarbons
    that can be directly integrated on a “drop in” basis into existing chemical and
    fuel products to deliver environmental and economic benefits. Gevo is committed
    to a sustainable biobased economy that meets society’s needs for plentiful food
    and clean air and water. For more information, please visit
    http://www.gevo.com.

    http://ir.gevo.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=238618&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1610760

     

     

    The USA was, in 2010, apparently (Natiaonal Geographic) the largest producer
    of biofuels in the world.  And as much as 38% of the US corn (wheat) 
    crop went into bioethanol in 2010  (National Geographic).  It was 26% in 2009.. 
    This is the sort of alcohol being used to make the GEVO alcohol to jet fuel. Corn
    is a food crop, so production of this fuel is in competition with crops for human
    (or animal) food.

    http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/energy/great-energy-challenge/biofuel-quiz/?source=link_tw20110927env-biofuel

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/datablog/2010/jan/22/us-corn-production-biofuel-ethanol

     

     

    Also a long article Biofuel Digest on Gevo, the US military and investing in
    biofuels for aviation.

    http://biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2011/09/30/gevo-the-panicked-investor-and-the-aviation-fuels-opportunity/

    Gevo, the panicked investor, and the aviation fuels opportunity

    30.9.2011

    A long article, including this section below:

    The 2010s – glory years for alcohol jet fuels?

    What’s an airline to do in the years while HRJ aviation fuels are scaling up?

    Well, that’s where Gevo and ATJ fuels come in.

    The fuels are expected to be certified by around 2013 – and testing is now just
    getting underway for that. In fact, the Air Force contracted this month with Gevo
    to supply a quantity of renewable ATJ fuel for testing purposes. The contract,
    worth a possible total of $600,000, provides that Gevo will supply the USAF with
    up to 11,000 gallons of ‘alcohol-to-jet’ (ATJ) based jet fuel,
    which will be used to support engine testing and a feasibility flight demonstration
    using an A-10 aircraft
    . The fuel will be shipped to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where the Air
    Force will finish lab testing and begin engine testing. DLA has the option to
    order up to an additional 4,000 gallons at the end of the contract.

    And it is participating (to the tune of $5 million) in the windfall from a USDA grant to the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), a consortium led by Washington State University (WSU), focused on the development
    of biojet fuel from woody biomass and forest product residues.

    The ATJ fuel is scheduled to be produced from isobutanol at Gevo’s hydrocarbon
    processing demonstration plant in Silsbee, Texas, in partnership with South Hampton
    Resources. The company plans to begin shipping product to the USAF in the first
    quarter of 2012.

    Gevo’s path to scale is fast. Its current feedstock of choice, corn starch, is
    already efficiently aggregated. What Gevo does is acquire an existing ethanol
    plant (or make a suitable JV arrangement) retrofit the plant over a nine-month
    period in which the plant is completely offline for around a month, for a cost
    of somewhere between 44 and 90 cents per gallon of ethanol capacity.

    A 100 million gallon ethanol plant will produce 76 million gallons of isobutanol,
    and to that is added a standard oil refining industry unit (well, custom-designed
    to fit an isobutanol plant, but standard in its process), which converts isobutanol,
    in a few steps, to a renewable jet fuel.

    Whether Gevo will ship ethanol to Texas for upgrading to jet fuel on a consolidated
    basis, or upgrade on site – that remains to be seen. With the upgrade cost at
    around the cost of a biobutanol retrofit, the Digest expects that ultimately Gevo
    would retrofit large-scale biobutanol plants, if it has sufficient contracts.

     

    and

     

    27.4.2011

    Gevo signs deal to convert isobutanol to jet fuel

     
    Gevo has signed a deal with Mustang Engineering to convert its isobutanol to
    bio-jet fuel. Under the engineering and consulting deal, Mustang will focus on
    the downstream processing of Gevo’s isobutanol into paraffinic kerosene (jet fuel).The
    deal is expected to help Gevo move forward with jet engine testing, airline suitability
    flights and, further down the line, commercial deployment.

    The Colorado-based firm raised USD107.3m through a Nasdaq IPO in February and
    had previously raised around USD74m in venture capital from investors including
    Khosla Ventures, Virgin Green Fund, Total, Burrill Life Sciences Capital and Malaysian
    Life Sciences Capital.

    Gevo develops catalysts and processing technology for producing isobutanol from
    feedstocks such as corn, sugarcane and cellulose-based biomass. The isobutanol
    is then used to make chemical intermediates, bio-based plastics and fuels that
    can be used in high concentrations with petrol in unmodified vehicle engines.

    Last year, the firm paid Agri-Energy USD20.7m to acquire an operational ethanol
    plant with an annual production capacity of 22m gallons. The Minnesota plant,
    which will be the firm’s first commercial-scale facility, will be retrofitted
    with its technology and is expected to begin producing isobutanol in the first
    half of 2012, when it will have a production capacity of 18m gallons per year.

    Gevo has signed letters of intent to supply chemical companies Lanxess, Total
    Petrochemicals, Toray Industries, United Air Lines and CDTECH. Last year, the
    firm announced that it had successfully produced and converted cellulose-based
    isobutanol into jet fuel.

    http://cleantech.strategyeye.com/article/K2o3IyXD1U/2011/04/27/gevo_signs_deal_to_convert_isobutanol_to_jet_fuel/

    Posted: Friday, September 30th, 2011. Filed in Biofuels News.

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