Airbus urges EU to scrap biodiesel incentives for road transport

A senior Airbus executive has said that the EU should bin incentives for road-transport biodiesel or provide equal ones for the production of biokerosene used in airplanes. The target for renewable energy sources in transport for 2020 is now set at 10%, including biofuels, green electricity and other renewables. EU plans to include ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change) in their measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels were due to be published this spring, but there are problems and disagreements behind the scenes. There is competition now between aviation and road transport for biofuels, but making biokerosene costs more than making biodiesel. Aviation claims it should be given priority, as it cannot use electricity.  (Neither, realistically, can road transport for the foeseeable future). Airbus wants “a level playing field or the scrapping of incentives that cover the biodiesel industry.” EU and Member States spent approximately €3.1 billion on biofuel support in 2010.


16 February 2012  (Euractiv)

The EU should bin incentives for road-transport biodiesel or provide equal ones for the production of biokerosene used in airplanes, a senior Airbus executive has told EurActiv.


The EU initially set a target for biofuel use equivalent to 2% of the fossil fuel market by 2005 and 5.75% by the end of 2010. The target for renewable energy sources in transport for 2020 is now set at 10%, including biofuels, green electricity and other renewables.

Use of biodiesel is growing steadily across the EU, which as a whole is about halfway to meeting its 10% green fuel target by 2020. Slovakia is already on the cusp of meeting the goal, followed by Austria and France.

But this has fed controversy over the possible greenhouse gas emissions increase they may cause from Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), when forests and wetlands are cleared to compensate for lands taken to grow biofuels elsewhere.

It is an open debate about how much good biofuels do for the environment. While they emit lower carbon emissions in transport, biofuels use for home heating are a leading contributor to sulphur dioxide, a main contributor to poor urban air quality in the EU, according to a European Environment Agency’s air quality report.

Growth in the European market mainly relies on imported plant oils that are expected to surge 21% in 2011 to a record 2.42 million metric tonnes, with Argentina accounting for much of the supply followed by Indonesia.

“We are asking for a level playing field or the scrapping of incentives that cover the biodiesel industry,” said Paul Nash, the Airbus head of environment and new energies.

EU plans to include the indirect effects of displaced land use in their measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels were due to be published this spring. But behind the scenes, they have become stuck in protracted negotiations.

Some sources say that the two key figures in the debate, Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger have reached a consensus on the vexed question of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) behind the scenes.

They have done so before.

Leaked minutes

In minutes of a July 2011 meeting between Hedegaard and Oettinger, seen by EurActiv, the two agreed that “feedstock-specific factors would seem to be the most effective solution to address ILUC” and should be introduced “in 2016 if possible, or at the latest in 2018”.

A review would be initiated at the end of the current Commission’s mandate in 2014, according to the paper.

The ILUC issue would be addressed “in the short term by raising the threshold for greenhouse gas emissions savings to a more ambitious level in order to phase out the worst performing biofuels,” the minutes say.

But wrangling within the Commission over issues such as whether the proposals should be included in the Renewable Energy Directive, the Fuel Quality Directive, or both, has hampered progress.

EurActiv understands that following the involvement of Commission Secretary-General Catherine Day in the negotiations, consultations have now been launched with other Commission directorates, potentially delaying the proposal further.

Biokerosene more expensive than biodiesel

Biodiesel, which is primarily used in road transport, may eventually be deemed one of the ‘worst performing biofuels’ with leaked EU data putting its emissions on a par with those from tar sands, when ILUC effects are counted.

Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency also ruled palm oil-based biodiesel inadmissible for its Renewable Fuel Standard Program, because it did not meet the minimum 20% lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction threshold needed to qualify.

Such valuations have in turn fuelled complaints about the incentives that road-based biodiesels proportionately receive in Europe, as a result of the EU’s target to power 10% of its transport system with renewable energies by 2020.

“All of the incentives today in Europe are focused on the production of biodiesel and there are no incentives in terms of aviation,” Nash told EurActiv, referring to the increasing competition for biofuels between the two transport sectors.

Industry insiders argue airlines should be given priority access to sustainable biofuels as aviation will continue to rely on liquid fuels for decades. Road transport, by contrast, has already started its transition to electricity, something that airlines simply cannot do.

“It costs slightly more to make biokerosense than it does to make biodiesel, so if you were a refinery what would you do?” asked Nash. “It is simple economics.”

Biofuels targets

In all, the EU’s biofuels targets have resulted in a 21% saving in greenhouse gas emissions compared to that from petrol, according to an International Food Policy Research Institute report compiled for the European Commission.

But this figure masks significant variations between different biofuel crops in the study.

While the fuel from bioethanol plants such as wheat, maize, sugar cane and sugar beet, produced an average carbon saving of 56.5 grams of CO2 equivalent per MegaJoule (gCO2eq/MJ), biodiesels such as palm, soybean, sunflower and rapeseed produced a figure of -1.75 gCO2eq/MJ: a net carbon emission higher than petrol.

In response to questions from EurActiv, an EU spokesperson said: “We have been asked to look into the whole issue of ILUC and we are now preparing our impact assessment and proposals.”

Next Steps

  • Spring 2012: EU scheduled to bring out proposals for ILUC and biofuels



European Union

Think tanks & Academia



How much is spent by the EU on subsidies to biofuels?

Report on Biofuels, from the House of Commons Library,  19.10.2011  states:



Biofuel support policies—How much is being spent in the EU?

Biofuels are supported by both European and UK policies. The EU Renewable Energy Directive included a statutory target that 10% of transport fuel by 2020 must come from renewable sources. All renewable energy sources can count towards this target, including renewable electricity and hydrogen, but it is expected to be met predominantly by first generation biofuels.

To meet the EU target the UK has adopted the Renewable Fuel Transport Obligation (RTFO). This set staggered targets for renewable fuels that fuel suppliers are required to supply—5% by the period 2013/14. The Coalition Government has said that this target will not be increased before 2014 (see below).

Biofuels also receive other forms of support, such as through research and development spending, fuel tariffs and capital funding. The Global Subsidies Initiative calculated that the EU and Member States spent approximately €3.1 billion on biofuel support in 2010. (6)


(6) Global Subsidies Initiative, Biofuel Subsidies in the European Union: 2010 Update , July 2010

The above reference, Global Subsidies Initiative, says:


Biofuel Subsidies in the European Union

30 OCTOBER 2007

This report finds that annual support for biofuels provided by EU governments reached € 3.7 billion in 2006. Government support is provided through a multitude of policies at the local, regional, national and Community levels. These policies include exemptions from or reductions in fuel-excise taxes; direct payments to producers in some Member States; capital grants or cheap loans for infrastructure; area payments for growing energy crops; and funding for research and development. Some Member States that have regulated minimum market shares for biofuels have started to move away from exempting them from fuel-excise taxes.

The cost-effectiveness of biofuels to meet these objectives is questionable. For example, the cost of obtaining a unit of CO2-equivalent reduction through biofuel subsidies is estimated to be € 575 to € 800 for ethanol made from sugarbeet, around € 215 for biodiesel made from used cooking oil, and over € 600 for biodiesel made from rapeseed. Governments could achieve far more reductions for the same amount of public funds by simply purchasing the reductions in the marketplace. For the price of one tonne of CO2 reduction through EU biofuel subsidies, more than 20 tonnes of CO2-equivalent offsets could be purchased on the European Climate Exchange.

Biofuel Subsidies in the European Union: 2010 Update

14 JULY 2010

This report finds that, in 2008, total transfers in support of biofuels associated with the policies of the EU and its Member States amounted to € 3.01 billion. The decline in support per litre is significant: where in 2006 it was equal to € 0.74 and € 0.50 per litre of ethanol and biodiesel consumed, by 2008 it had decreased to € 0.24 and € 0.22 per litre consumed, respectively. Several factors are responsible for this change. One of the most important is that excise tax exemptions, which represent the largest share of support, have been reduced in several Member States, while mandatory blending targets gained in importance – and the latter are difficult to measure in terms of financial support.

Biofuel Subsidies in Germany


Currently, the German government plans to achieve the EU’s renewable transport target mainly through the use of mandatory blending targets applied to the mineral oil industry for the use of biofuels. This study highlights that the prevalent policy interventions in Germany—mandatory blending requirements and tax exemptions—have a number of related costs. The study provides an overview of Germany’s biofuel market and discusses current trends and developments in German biofuel support schemes. A number of issues linked to the use of blending mandates and other biofuel support measures are investigated and, where possible, an estimate of the potential costs provided.

Read more »

New FoE report on jatropha cultivation for aviation biokerosene in Java

A new report by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, and Friends of the Earth Indonesia investigates the situation in Java, where jatropha and other crops are being grown to produce biokerosene for Lufthansa’s “Burn Fair” programme.  The report finds that Javanese farmers and workers have converted some of their land from food to fuel crops, in return for ridiculously low payments. They have had a fall in income, conflict and frustration. Indonesian farmers feel the lifeblood of Indonesia will be tapped for the benefit of wealthier people in Europe and elsewhere. Biofuel crops are putting pressure on land for food. The report says this growing of biofuels for aviation fuel is putting a double pressure on the poor in the global south: both in climate change and food prices.




Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) and Walhi (Friends of
the Earth Indonesia) have just published a new report:

“Biokerosene: Take-off in the wrong direction”

Trends and consequences of the rapid development of aviation biofuels, as shown by the impacts of jatropha cultivation on local people in Central Java

Report at:


by Berry Nahdian Forqan, Executive Director of Walhi:

In January 2012, Lufthansa said they were very satisfied with their six-month trial of biokerosene, `Burn Fair’, which had gone smoothly.

The use of biokerosene made from jatropha and other oils was celebrated as a technical and environmental success  .Not a single word was said about the Javanese farmers and workers, who have converted some of their land from food to fuel crops, in return for ridiculously low payments.

For them, the introduction of jatropha has led to a fall in income, conflict and frustration.

As Lufthansa calls for biokerosene production to be expanded to a commercial scale, it looks once again as though the lifeblood of Indonesia will be tapped for the benefit of wealthier people in Europe and elsewhere.

Faced with rising fuel prices and the changing climate, the aviation industry is looking for a license to grow. They claim that in future large quantities of biofuels will be able to replace kerosene from fossil fuel. They claim that flying on biofuels will substantially reduce emissions. Plans have been drawn up to switch from fossil kerosene to biokerosene, while continuing to increase levels of air traffic.

But the idea that using biofuels for aviation on a large scale can be green is a dangerous myth: Growing crops for biofuels such as biokerosene needs land and this comes at the cost of food production.

Like fossil fuel, biokerosene emits high levels of greenhouse gases, particularly during flight at high altitudes. Pushing the use of biofuels will make the global food and climate crises worse. The only solution to the problem is to reduce air traffic, foremost in Europe.

This might not be a welcome message for the aviation industry or for frequent fliers, but it is a blessing for poorer people in the South who suffer twice: from the effects of climate change and from the loss of valuable land which is used to grow fuel instead of food.

We hope that this report will inspire policy makers, business people and consumers alike to look for sustainable alternatives to air travel and – by cutting the amount of miles they spend up in the air – to contribute to a world that is both more just and sustainable.


Conclusion and Recommendations:

Jatropha is not the answer for the growing demand for aviation fuel

Clearly, the jatropha “money trees” have not made the farmers in Grobogan rich. On the contrary, our research in the field showed that growing jatropha in Grobogan threatens food security as jatropha is replacing food crops, in particular corn. Furthermore:

• Growing jatropha does not benefit farmers and can lead to economic losses, compared to food crops.

• The failure of jatropha is triggering conflicts within communities, e.g. of angry farmers against cooporation leaders who have promoted jatropha on behalf of Waterland.

• It is difficult for the farmers to refuse to grow jatropha on land that is owned by the State Forest Company. As a result they have to forego growing other, more profitable food crops on this land, which they had previously been able to use.

•  The effects of jatropha are particularly affecting women

If the aviation sector’s plans for biofuels go ahead, replacing all aviation fuel with biofuels by 2050, would take as much land as 378 million hectare (see graphic, page 11). At the same time in this scenario greenhouse gas emissions from aviation biofuels will grow massively. Companies and governments should stop hiding behind false solutions and start taking measures to reduce the staggering growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry.

Corporate Responsibility

European airlines and their passengers should ask themselves how ethical it is to have farmers work for 68 cent per day to enable cheap flights between European cities. This question is particularly relevant for Lufthansa, given that it has already used Waterland’s jatropha oil for flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg. A farmer in Java needs to pick seeds for 18 days in order to enable one person to fly from Frankfurt to Hamburg, a route that can be travelled by train in 3.5 hours. Yet it seems that Lufthansa and the other airlines are not open to the serious downsides of aviation biofuels. On the contrary, they claim that tests using aviation biofuels have been hugely successful and that they want to increase the use of these harmful fuels.

Friends of the Earth is urging airlines to:

•  be completely transparent about the origin of their products.

•  abstain from using jetfuel that has been produced while, directly or indirectly, damaging food security, the climate or biodiversity. In practice this means they should not use crop based fuels, such as palm oil and jatropha oil.

•  withdraw their biofuels targets and replace them with emissions reductions targets based on actual reductions in emissions.


Governments responsibility


European politicians will have to face the question as to whether they really want a future in which their citizens’ flights are contributing to increased
demand for land and rising food prices. If they do not, they should consider replacing as much European air traffic as possible with sustainable alternatives and make aviation less attractive. Air traffic is a notorious climate killer and the possibilities to cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing air traffic are enormous. For example, they can:

•  eliminate inefficient and unnecessary shorthaul flights and replace them with smarter transport alternatives, such as high-speed trains which generate roughly a quarter of CO2 emissions compared to planes (see graphic, page 25) This will provide plenty of opportunities to achieve considerable cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. For example, forty percent of all air traffic from and to Amsterdam- Schiphol airport flies within a
range of 1000 kilometers.

• In order to discourage flights, European policy-makers should end the unjustifiable privileges enjoyed by the aviation industry and make sure kerosene and air travel are no longer exempt from tax.

Measures they should take include:
• abolishing the “zero emission factor” for kerosene made from biomass under the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) and incorporate all the climate impacts from planes in the ETS.

• charge VAT on air tickets and fuel duty on jetfuel, as on other products. Revenues raised by abolishing these tax exemptions could be used to make Europe more energy efficient, for example by insulating affordable homes or by supporting a better and more affordable railway system

• Remove subsidies for the development of biokerosene

In short: the EU should bring its policies on aviation in line with its ambitions to tackle climate change and end world hunger.


The Indonesian authorities should:

• avoid promoting or imposing commodities which threaten local farmers’ income, food production and community cohesion

• thoroughly evaluate failed national and local jatropha programmes in an open, comprehensive and inclusive manner and readjust plans, employing the precautionary principle

• prioritise the food, land and energy demands of the local rural population over export-oriented activities, especially when allocating land-use rights on state land.

Read more »

Etihad Airways operates first biofuel (recycled cooking oil) powered delivery flight

For Etihad, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has taken delivery of a new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which flew from Seattle to Abu Dhabi using a  blend of plant-based jet fuel sourced from recycled vegetable cooking oil and traditional jet kerosene. The biofuel blend was supplied by SkyNRG. As a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, Etihad says it is committed to complying with a stringent set of sustainability principles when looking at biofuels, including ensuring feedstocks are non-competitive with food sources and that drinking water supplies are not jeopardised. Airlines are keen to use whatever biofuels they can now, as these fuels are classed as exempt under the EU ETS. They are working with the Masdar Institute to develop biofuels grown in sea water, with a 2km square test area.

Etihad becomes first Middle East carrier to use sustainable biofuel as it takes delivery of new Boeing aircraft

Wed 25 Jan 2012  (Green Air online)

Etihad Airways’ newest 777-300ER aircraft that arrived yesterday in Abu Dhabi from the Boeing factory in Seattle was powered on its 14-hour flight by a blend of plant-based jet fuel sourced from recycled vegetable cooking oil and traditional jet kerosene.

The biofuel blend was supplied by SkyNRG, which has virtually cornered the market availability of sustainable jet fuel just now, with involvement already in maiden commercial biofuel flights by carriers in Europe, Asia, the United States and now the Middle East.

Boeing helped Etihad source the fuel and also worked on testing the biofuel blend and other technical aspects associated with preparing for the flight.

“We think the Middle East has great potential to give a critical boost towards making a market for sustainable jet fuel that is affordable,” commented SkyNRG Managing Director Dirk Kronemeijer. “With this flight, Etihad Airways has taken a fantastic step, particularly in increasing awareness within this region. There is a lot more to come in this continent and we are determined to be there when that happens.”

For Etihad, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, it becomes the first airline to fly directly from an airplane manufacturer on biofuel and also the first Middle East carrier to use sustainable bio-derived jet fuel.

“This flight marks a significant milestone in our efforts to support and drive the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi, the region and globally,” announced the airline’s President and CEO, James Hogan.

“However, the use of a presently available biofuel is just one part of a more comprehensive long-term biofuel strategy to ensure that we are able to use biofuels to decarbonise substantially an entire industry sector in the long term.”

As a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), Etihad says it is committed to complying with a stringent set of sustainability principles when looking at opportunities for biofuel development and use, including ensuring feedstocks are non-competitive with food sources and that drinking water supplies are not jeopardised.

The airline is already committed to a five-year, $2 million programme in Abu Dhabi as part of the Masdar Institute’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC). The project, which launched in March 2009, is supporting research into the use of salt water tolerant plants as the basis for alternative aviation fuels.

Etihad also points out that the commercial viability of biofuels is gaining even greater importance as aviation carbon emissions face growing regulation around the world. Under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme that came into force on January 1, emissions from biofuels are considered exempt.


Etihad Airways – Environment


For more aviation biofuel news stories, see 

 Aviation Biofuels News   

see also

Masdar Institute

The Masdar Institute, Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell to establish the UAE’s First Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project


Date ?   26th January 2012 ?

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell’s UOP today announced an agreement to establish a major research and demonstration project in Abu Dhabi dedicated to sustainable energy solutions. The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP) will use integrated saltwater agricultural systems to support the development and commercialization of biofuel sources for aviation, and co-products.

As part of its initial work statement, the SBRP will undertake research projects that combine the arid and saline-rich environment of Abu Dhabi with innovative saltwater farming practices. The Masdar Institute will host the SBRP and provide laboratory and demonstration facilities both within and outside of Masdar City.

As an independent research university working in renewable energy development, the Masdar Institute ( will lead SBRP operations bringing strong scientific guidance to the project. According to the Provost of the Masdar Institute, Dr. John Perkins, “This project demonstrates the Masdar Institute’s strong desire to establish a world-class university dedicated to alternative energy, environmental technologies and sustainability. This project will for the first time demonstrate the commercial viability of using integrated saltwater agriculture to provide biofuels for aviation, and is consistent with the overall vision of Abu Dhabi to achieve a 7% target of renewables by 2020.”


The integrated approach uses saltwater to create an aquaculture-based farming system in parallel with the growth of mangrove forests and Salicornia, a plant that thrives in salty water. These biomass sources can be sustainably harvested and used to generate clean energy, aviation biofuels and other products. This closed-loop system converts aquaculture effluent into an affordable, nutrient-rich fertilizer for both plant species. Developing low-cost, non-petroleum fertilizers is a key to achieving reductions in carbon emissions from any biofuel source.

The technology of evolutionary seawater farming has been pioneered by Dr. Carl Hodges of Global Seawater Inc. (GSI), who has been engaged as Special Advisor to the project. The project in Abu Dhabi will take place over an area of around 2 km².

Sustainable biofuel development is a key element of aviation’s carbon emissions reduction strategy. The SBRP will only seek solutions and lead research into biomass sources that do not distort the global food-chain, compete with fresh water uses or lead to unintended land use change. All phases of biomass cultivation for the project will be tested against the practices and principles developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and supported by members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (
full article at



Read more »

BioJet and US Indian Tribes to develop jet biofuel feedstock and refining projects worth $1 billion over 10 years

BioJet International has formed a business alliance with the Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT)., which represents 57 sovereign Indian Tribes that manage millions of acres of agricultural lands in the United States on which feedstocks for biofuels may be grown. BioJet last year received $1.2 billion in funding  from Equity Partners Fund, to invest and make strategic acquisitions over 10 years. CERT manages 56 millions of acres of agricultural land of which BioJet will use about 1 million acres to grow feedstock, using these funds to do so. A Memorandum of Agreement is expected to be concluded within the next two months to define the participation terms of the two sides. CERT tribal lands are supported by financial incentives, so they are exempt in varying degrees from state and local taxation as well as permitting and licensing requirements. 

Fri 27 Jan 2012 (Green Air online)

Renewable aviation biofuel supply chain integrator BioJet International has formed a business alliance with the Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT), which represents 57 sovereign Indian Tribes that manage millions of acres of agricultural lands in the United States on which feedstocks for biofuels may be grown.

A year ago, BioJet received a $1.2 billion facility from Equity Partners Fund, which is intended to help finance a $6 billion supply chain capital projects programme over the next 10 years that includes feedstock and refining projects, as well as investment and strategic acquisitions.

BioJet CEO Mitch Hawkins said its relationship with CERT envisioned joint projects worth at least $1 billion over 10 years locating feedstock generation and refining operations to provide biofuels for airlines and ground transportation at key locations throughout the western United States.

CERT Executive Director David Lester said: “We believe our sovereign Tribal members together with BioJet are well suited to lead one of the largest economic transitions in history: the transition from a fossil-based to a biofuel-based transportation sector and, on a larger scale, the transition to building a foundation for sustainable Tribal communities and an infrastructure for US energy independence.”

CERT will be represented in the effort by Robert Martin, former National Ombudsman of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A Memorandum of Agreement is expected to be concluded within the next two months to define the participation terms of the two sides.

Under the direction of the elected leadership of the Tribes, CERT has been instrumental in restructuring the federal-Indian relationship with respect to minerals, mining, taxation and Tribal jurisdiction over environmental regulation on Indian lands.

In addition to agricultural land, CERT members collectively own and manage more than 30% of the coal west of the Mississippi, 40% of domestic uranium and 10% of known national oil and gas reserves in the United States.

Through its energy forums and Indian Energy Solutions conferences, CERT helps build understanding between Tribal interests and those of the companies operating within Tribal jurisdiction or doing business with Tribes.

BioJet says its activities span the entire biofuel chain including the generation of feedstock, technology, refining, logistics, sustainability certification, distribution and eventual use by the aviation sector worldwide. Through its subsidiaries, BioJet adds that it owns and controls multiple, large biofuel feedstock projects around the world.

To coincide with the ASTM approval of bio-derived jet fuel for commercial use in July last year, BioJet made a one-time introductory offer to the commercial aviation industry of fixed-price contracts pegging the price of its jet biofuel to $2.97 per gallon. [ at present the price of aviation kerosene – IATA – is around $3.05 per gallon] .  It said it was in a position to release one billion gallons of renewable jet fuel on long-term contracts.  [Biojet says: The world’s annual consumption of jet fuel (excluding military) is about 2 billion barrels per year.  ].

The company was the first to become an Alternative Fuels Strategic Partner of IATA and is also a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.


BioJet International



CERT and BioJet join forces for biofuels development

11 January 2012 (Biofuels International)

The Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT), a group made up of 57 Indian tribes, has formed a business relationship with renewable jet fuel supplier BioJet International.

The CERT members, who own and manage coal, uranium, oil and gas reserves throughout the US, will work with BioJet to capitalise on supply chain projects relating to feedstock and refining projects.

Mitch Hawkins, CEO of BioJet, says: ‘CERT is working through Tartoosh and BioJet to create project opportunities, raise capital and commercialise innovative biofuels technologies with an eye towards the creation of sustainable economic development within Indian country.’

BioJet last year received $1.2 billion (€940 million) in funding to invest and make strategic acquisitions. CERT manages 56 millions of acres of agricultural land of which BioJet will use about one million acres to grow feedstock, using these funds to do so.

David Lester, CERT executive director, says: ‘This effort will be led for CERT by Robert Martin, former National Ombudsman of the US Environmental Protection Agency in Washington DC, as leader of the RES Alliance with which BioJet is a strategic partner. We are poised for a long transition period wherein biofuels gain large market share not only from fossil fuels but also from ethanol.’

Hawkins adds: ‘We envision the scope of our business relationship broadly with CERT to include at least $1 billion worth of joint projects over a ten year period locating feedstock generation and refining operations to provide biofuels for commercial airlines and ground transportation at key locations throughout the western US.’

CERT and BioJet are expected to finalise a Memorandum of Agreement within the next two months which will define the terms of their participation.

‘BioJet and CERT will work together to develop feedstock resources both on tribal lands and also natural gas resources owned by the tribes.  The parties will also work together on development of biofuel refining facilities on tribal lands.  They will also coordinate on bioenergy related technology development and, in fact, are already doing so on at least one project,’ says Hawkins.

He goes on to explain that the most important aspect of any bioenergy project is the capital required to support it: ‘In this regard, the finance aspects of the relationship are unique in the US.’

He says CERT tribal lands are supported by financial incentives which mean they are exempt in varying degrees from state and local taxation as well as permitting and licensing requirements. 

This serves to reduce transactional costs for any funded project and Indian tribes may issue general revenue bonds under the Tribal Tax Status Act and Tribal Economic Development Bonds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as being eligible for federal debt financing.

Read more »

Availability and sustainability key challenges, says Lufthansa, as biofuel trials end with first commercial transatlantic flight

The six-month trial by Lufthansa using biofuel blends on the route between Hamburg and Frankfurt has ended with its first scheduled commercial transatlantic biofuel flight on January 12. In all, 1,187 scheduled flights were carried out between July and December using an Airbus A321 with a 50-50 blend of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene in one engine. Total consumption of the biokerosene mix amounted to 1,556 tonnes, says the airline, and initial calculations suggest CO2 emissions were reduced by 1,471 tonnes as a result. [Based on what evidence ?? That is assuming the fuel produces overall about two thirds less carbon than conventional kerosene ? **]


Availability and sustainability key challenges, says Lufthansa, as biofuel trials end with first commercial transatlantic flight

23.1.2012 (Green Air online)

The six-month trial by Lufthansa using biofuel blends on the route between Hamburg and Frankfurt has ended with its first scheduled commercial transatlantic biofuel flight on January 12.

In all, 1,187 scheduled flights were carried out between July and December using an Airbus A321 with a 50-50 blend of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene in one engine.

Total consumption of the biokerosene mix amounted to 1,556 tonnes, says the airline, and initial calculations suggest CO2 emissions were reduced by 1,471 tonnes as a result. [Based on what evidence ?? That is assuming the fuel produces overall about two thirds less carbon than conventional kerosene ? **]

Lufthansa also reports that thanks to the higher density of biofuel, fuel consumption is reduced by more than 1%, with the added benefit of cleaner burning fuel due to a lack of sulphur and aromatic compounds.

“Our burnFAIR project went off smoothly and to our fullest satisfaction,” said Joachim Buse, Lufthansa’s Vice President Aviation Biofuel. “As expected, biofuel proved its worth in daily flight operations.”

Despite the success of the trials, Buse warned of challenges ahead for aviation biofuels. “As a next step, we will focus on the suitability, availability, sustainability and certification of raw materials. But first we must tap into this market.

“However, Lufthansa will only continue the practical trial if we are able to secure the volume of sustainable, certified raw materials required in order to maintain routine operations.”

In the meantime, the airline will focus on analysing the data captured during the trial to look at the effects of biofuels on both the environment and also the maintenance and life-time of the engines. Lufthansa claims biofuels emit around 50% less than conventional fossil fuels.

The Boeing 747-400 transatlantic flight carried around 40 tonnes of biofuel mix and saved 38 tonnes of CO2 compared to using regular jet kerosene, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of six scheduled flights between Frankfurt and Berlin, claims the airline.

The total cost of the trial amounted to €6.6 million ($8.6m), with a €2.5 million grant contribution from the German government.

“If we want to protect our climate and thus our future in a sustainable manner, we need innovative ideas and technologies and an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels – particularly in view of the growing demand for mobility worldwide,” said Christoph Franz, Chairman of Deutsche Lufthansa’s Executive Board.

Link:  Lufthansa PureSky (more details of the trial)


see also

Lufthansa is ending the trial use of a biofuel mix for its planes because it has used up stocks of certified biofuel and no other reliable supplies are available.

(Reuters)   9.1.2012

…. excerpts …..

The trial, which ran on flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg, will end January 12 on a flight from Frankfurt to Washington.

“Lufthansa will only continue the practical trial if we are able to secure the volume of sustainable, certified raw materials required in order to maintain routine operations,” project manager Joachim Buse said on Monday.

The race to cut carbon dioxide emissions has heated up with the introduction this month of the European Union emissions trading scheme under which airlines must pay for the CO2 they emit.


While the airline industry wants to use biofuels to curb emissions, the lack of industrial production means only limited quantities are available.

European airlines, biofuel producers and the EU Commission last year signed a pact aiming to produce 2 million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by 2020.

The environmental benefits of some biofuel mixes have also been called into question as some crops such as palm oil use land that could instead be used to grow crops to feed people.

Other non-plant-based options for creating biofuel include waste and algae. British Airways (ICAG.L) is hoping to start powering its fleet using a fuel derived from waste by 2015, while UK rival Virgin Atlantic plans to start using a waste gases-derived fuel by 2014.

Lufthansa’s Buse said the six-month trial between Frankfurt and Hamburg, which saw one engine of an Airbus A321 powered by a 50:50 blend of regular fuel and biofuel, had been a success.


Related GreenAir Online articles:

Lufthansa takes off towards a new era of sustainably fuelled regular commercial scheduled flights
Lufthansa to start regular scheduled biofuel flights this week and announces other fuel-saving and climate initiatives
Lufthansa’s fuel and emissions rose by 10.1 per cent in 2010 but specific fuel consumption falls to record low
Lufthansa Group airlines rack up double-digit increase in carbon emissions in 2010 despite efficiency improvement
Lufthansa to start industry-first scheduled passenger jet biofuel flights in 2011 in partnership with Airbus
Finnair aims to become a launch customer for commercial airline jet biofuel flights in 2011
Delay to certification of aviation jet biofuels may damage investor confidence, claims Lufthansa

Back of envelope calculations:

** CO2 emissions from aviation fuel are 3.15 grams CO2 per gram of fuel burnt (which means 1 tonne of burnt jet fuel emits 3.15 tonnes of CO2).

So 40 tonnes of kerosene would burn to produce 40 x 3.15 tonnes of CO2 = 126 tonnes of CO2.   20 tonnes would produce 63 tonnes of CO2.

Lufthansa say it saved 38 tonnes of CO2 so the 40 tonnes of fuel emitted 88 tonnes of CO2. Therefore the 20 tonnes of biofuel (50%) must have been counted as emitting  88 – 63 = 25 tonnes of CO2.

So they assume that the 20 tonnes of biofuel produced 25 tonnes, compared to 63 tonnes CO2 for conventional kerosene. ie. 40% as much CO2(= a 60% saving).

There is no detail here about what the biofuel actually was, or what its lifecycle was.

see earlier

Lufthansa A321 partially powered (50%) by biofuel to enter service Friday

12th July 2011    Lufthansa plans start its scheduled biofuel flights Friday, launching a 6-month trial in which an IAE V2500-powered Airbus A321 will operate on the Frankfurt-Hamburg route.  It will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene in one engine, and is due to operate 8 daily legs between FRA and HAM. LH estimates it will save around 1,500 tons of CO2 emissions over the 6 months – but give no indication how this figure is obtained.

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

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.

Lufthansa first airline to use biofuel on commercial flights next spring

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.

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

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.   ttp://

Read more »

Biodiesels pollute more than crude oil, leaked data show

Greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels such as palm oil, soybean and rapeseed are higher than those for fossil fuels when the effects of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) are counted, according to leaked EU data seen by EurActiv. In its recent review of the Fuel Quality Directive, the EU proposed a default value of 107g CO2 equivalent per megajoule of fuel for oil from tar sands, as compared to 87.5g CO2/mj for crude oil.  The data propose ILUC-incorporating CO2/mj values for biofuels as Palm Oil – 105g ;Soybean – 103g ;Rapeseed – 95g; Sunflower – 86g.  Some 2nd generation biofuels come out very much lower.  The EU’s new biofuels certification plan, (for road vehicles, planes are not included) announced last August stipulates that certification only be awarded to biofuels which emit 35% less greenhouse gas than petrol, with the figure rising to 60% from 2018.

27 January 2012 – Updated 30 January 2012 (Euractiv)

Greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels such as palm oil, soybean and rapeseed are higher than those for fossil fuels when the effects of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) are counted, according to leaked EU data seen by EurActiv.

The default values assigned to the biofuels compare to those from Canada’s oil sands – also known as tar sands – according to the figures, which should be released along with long-awaited legislative proposals on biofuels in the spring.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said she could “not comment on leaked documents, such as impact assessments which have not been published.”

But industry and civil society sources described the data as credible and in line with other studies. One said it would sound a death knell for the biodiesel industry, if published.

“I think the science has proved clearly that because of the link to deforestation in places such as South East Asia, a lot of the biodiesels have significantly negative impacts on the climate,” Robbie Blake, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth, told EurActiv.

Indirect land-use change

ILUC happens when forests and wetlands are cleared to compensate for lands taken to grow biofuels elsewhere.

One recent report predicted that all of Malaysia’s tropical peatswamp forests would be destroyed by the end of the decade because of ILUC – with alarming consequences for greenhouse gas emissions – unless the expansion of palm oil production was halted.

To measure the climate impact of fuels, Brussels favours assigning default values based on a calculation of their full lifecycle emissions, hence the debate over ILUC factors and biofuels.

In its recent review of the Fuel Quality Directive, the EU proposed a default value of 107g CO2 equivalent per megajoule of fuel (CO2/mj) for oil from tar sands, as compared to 87.5g CO2/mj for crude oil, reflecting the greater environmental harm that its production causes.

Yet while advanced ‘second generation’ biofuels comfortably outperform fossil fuels in the EU’s new data, palm oil is ascribed a value of 105g, soybean 103g, rapeseed 95g, and sunflower 86g, once ILUC is factored in.

The data propose ILUC-incorporating CO2/mj values for biofuels as follows:

  • Palm Oil – 105g
  • Soybean – 103g
  • Rapeseed – 95g
  • Sunflower – 86g
  • Palm Oil with methane capture – 83g
  • Wheat (process fuel not specified) – 64g
  • Wheat (as process fuel natural gas used in CHP) – 47g
  • Corn (Maize) – 43g
  • Sugar Cane – 36g
  • Sugar Beet – 34g
  • Wheat (straw as process fuel in CHP plants) – 35g
  • 2G Ethanol (land-using) – 32g
  • 2G Biodiesel (land-using) – 21g
  • 2G Ethanol (non-land using) – 9g
  • 2G Biodiesel (non-land using) – 9g


Isabelle Maurizi, a spokesperson for the European Biodiesel Board, told EurActiv that data such as the leaked biofuels values, and recent reports by the EU’s Joint Research Centre, the European Environmental Agency, and the International Food Policy Research Institute, were not consistent with research in the US.

“We do not recognise the validity of the science due to discrepancies in the results. The science is not grounded yet and is still immature so we would favour incentives in policy-making rather than punitive proposals,” she said.

Any application of the leaked values could severely hamper the ability of biodiesel manufacturers to enter into the EU’s new biofuels certification plan, announced last August.

This stipulates that certification only be awarded to biofuels which emit 35% less greenhouse gas than petrol, with the figure rising to 60% from 2018.

Advanced biofuels producers believe they would meet this standard and Rob Vierhout, the secretary-general of ePURE, a renewable ethanol association, said that the EU needed “a different shade of ILUC factor.”

“If indeed the effects on land use change depend on the feedstock that they’re using, then this has to be recognised in the policy,” he told EurActiv.

In April 2009, the EU legislated that renewable energy sources such as biofuels should make up 10% of Europe’s transportation fuels mix by 2020, and this has legal as well as financial consequences.

Market signals

Nusa Urbancic, of the Transport & Environment pressure group, called for the EU to “send a clear signal to the markets about which are the future biofuels that we want.”

“We have enough biodiesel to meet the current target which is a problem for the sector, because they overinvested following a different policy signal and to some extent their investments should be protected,” she told EurActiv.

But with scientific knowledge of the climate advantages that advanced biofuels offered “there is no excuse now not to act to resolve that [problem],” she added.

A report published by the French national auditor on 24 January found that although farmers gained from the EU’s current biofuels policy, environmental benefits were ‘questionable’ and motorists ended up having to consume more fuel and pay high prices.


Kåre Riis Nielsen, Director for European Affairs, Novozymes told EurActiv: “There is a clear cut between those biofuels that are not able to reach the 35% greenhouse gas emissions targets if you include ILUC, and those that are. Our position is that any new policy should be based on ILUC. It should promote the best-performing biofuels and focus on making sure that they are on the market and that the advanced biofuels are promoted and deployed.”

For the European Biodiesel Board, Isabelle Maurizi said that “Biodiesel is one of the means to reach the EU’s 10% target of renewable supply in transport and we should keep in mind that is a renewable alternative to fossil fuel.”

“It is always a bit hard to do legislation based on reports with so many discrepancies,” she continued. “The International Food Policy Research Institute study which is most likely to be used by the European Commission has loopholes and shortcomings in the methodology that we have underlined. The US results are the exact opposite. Ethanol is worse than biodiesel whereas in Europe it’s the complete opposite.”

Rob Vierhout, the secretary-general of ePURE told EurActiv that one reason for the discrepancy could be that Ethanol in the US was made from corn, unlike in Europe. “As far as I know, they don’t use sugar beet either and it is the best-performing ethanol in the world. Also many power plants in the US are also running on lignite coal, which we hardly have in Europe. So you are comparing apples with pears if you say the numbers should be the same in Europe. It’s a different feedstock and processing technology.”

Robbie Blake, the biofuels spokesman for Friends of the Earth told EurActiv that biodiesel investors should have researched their stock portfolio more thoroughly. “If I was an investor in the biodiesel industry then I would have been betting on an industry that’s causing deforestation and is certainly not delivering the clean green fuels that it promises,” he said.

But the EU’s biofuels plans too should have been better considered, he said: “I think we can draw a clear conclusion that if member states stick to the plans they have laid out already then it’s clear that it will cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and that’s especially the case when we rely on cheap but very damaging palm and soy oil.”

Nusa Urbancic, the biofuels expert for Transport and Environment said that it was “difficult to say” whether the EU’s biofuels policy had increased greenhouse gas emissions in the past, because of the lack of reliable monitoring data. “But these [leaked EU] figures give a sense of what will happen in the future if we don’t act,” she told EurActiv.

“Assuming that existing demand stays as it is and increases by the amount predicted in the national action plans, most of that increase will be met by those biodiesel crops that are deemed to increase emissions compared to fossil fuels. So we can say with a lot of certainty that there is a risk that if we continue with current policies, emissions will increase instead of decrease.”


Spring 2012: EU to bring forward new legislative proposal on biofuels and ILUC

Arthur Neslen

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Airlines Flying on Clean Fuel Should Pay Less Tax, Branson Says

Branson manages to persuade  many people that he takes his responsibilities to the environment seriously, and really plans to fly “green” and “clean” planes … whatever those charmingly vague terms mean. The spin about “clean”, alternative bio-jet fuels is fair enough if it concerns fuels made from waste flue gases, but his hopes of the aviation industry growing hugely by 2050 and getting half its fuel from biofuels by then are unrealistic. The hype is intended to persuade government etc that the aviation industry is seriously trying to tackle the issue of carbon emissions and thus to get as much government subsidy for this as possible. In reality it is a delaying tactic to to continue business as usual. 

Sir Richard Branson Talks Clean Fuel Initative

Sir Richard Branson talks about his philosophy of business and philanthropy. He said the first rule of a business is to survive. But once a business is thriving it must give back. His way of doing that is to pledge to take the profits from his dirty businesses — like the airline Virgin Airways — and put into his clean fuel initiative. He has invested in companies that make clean fuels for planes. He says they will be able to use clean fuels by 2020 which will be cheaper than fuel used now. One company he invested in turns emissions from plants into alcohol, which is turned into fuel.

Take a look: [There is a highly disingenuous and highly annoying video clip of Branson, who almost seems to believe his own spin about what being “green” is.  If he believes his own hype, he is dangerously misinformed; if he knows it to be misleading, it confirms his role in further damaging the climate and the planet. His aim is to continue flying, and grow his aviation business as much as possible].

Airlines Flying on Clean Fuel Should Pay Less Tax, Branson Says

By Louise Downing – Dec 5, 2011 

Governments need to make it “very clear” that jet fuel made from sources such as inedible plants and organic waste aren’t taxed like regular fuel, said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.

A push by governments to remove taxes levied on airlines if they switch to using clean fuel would provide “enormous encouragement to the airline industry” to invest further in biofuel companies, Branson said today in a telephone interview. Virgin already has invested in Gevo Inc. and Solazyme Inc.

The airline spends more than $2 billion a year on fuel and there is “billions and billions and billions” there for the taking by the clean energy industry, the entrepreneur said. The industry fuel bill was $139 billion in 2010.

“Governments need to make it clear that if it’s clean fuel it shouldn’t be taxed and if it’s dirty fuel it should be taxed and that seems to be the best way to speed things up,” he said. The International Air Transport Association, (IATA) which estimates the aviation industry accounts for 2 percent of global carbon- dioxide emissions, set a target in 2007 to eliminate these emissions from air travel by 2050.

The Carbon War Room, a not-for-profit organization funded by Branson, today started a web and information site aimed at reducing the use of traditional jet fuels by as much as 50 percent. It will also play a role in talking to governments to try and push a “no-tax on clean fuel policy,” Branson said. “I think they will be knocking at an open door as it will be very difficult for governments to disagree with that,” he said.

‘Reduce Air Fares’

Aviation could move from being one of the dirtiest industries to being one of the cleanest rapidly, Branson said. He hopes that this can be achieved by 2020.

Virgin Atlantic, which in 2008 became the first airline to fly a plane using first-generation biofuel made from babassu nuts and coconut oil mixed with kerosene, plans in two to three years to fly planes using fuel made from waste gases from steel mills.

Over the next year it will work with LanzaTech NZ Ltd., which makes the fuel, to sign deals with aluminum and steel plants so they can roll out production “as fast as possible.”

There are about 1,800 tanks filling airplanes around the world with fuel so once there are two to three companies producing renewable jet fuel, it will be easy to supply them to the airline industry, Branson said.

Airlines on July 1 won approval from the U.S. technical standards body ASTM International to blend fuel from inedible plants and organic waste with traditional kerosene-based jet fuel. Since approval, Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA)Finnair Oyj (FIA1S) and Air France-KLM Group have flown planes using the fuel.

ASTM is now testing fuel made from alcohols, and this is expected to be approved in 2013.

Renewable aviation fuel would provide competition to traditional jet fuel. “Ultimately if you have a competitor, we might be able to reduce costs and therefore reduce airfares,” Branson said.


Scaling Biofuels for Aviation ‘Not so difficult,’ Branson Says

(Earth and Industry)

by Timothy Hurst on December 5, 2011

The commercial aviation industry could go from being one of the dirtiest to being one of the cleanest in ten years, according to one of the industry’s best-known figures.

Richard Branson says the world’s 7,000 airlines could switch to low-carbon jet fuels much faster than other forms of transportation because airplanes have very few “filling stations.”

“Unlike cars where there are millions of filling stations, there are only about 1,700 aviation stations in the world. So if you can get the right fuel, like mass-produced algae, [still not viable on a large scale] then getting it to 1,700 outlets is not so difficult,” Branson said in an interview with The Guardian.

Branson’s Virgin Group, which owns a majority stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways, said the industry should aim for 50% sustainable fuels by 2020.

“Aviation fuel is 25-40% of the running costs of airlines so the industry is open to new fuels,” said Branson, who also heads up the Carbon War Room, an effort to work with and reward businesses that lead reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Some airlines are way ahead of others in the quest to make biofuels a regular part of the commercial aviation fuel mix. Several European airlines have tested or incorporated low-carbon fuels, as required by the EU program to reduce emissions from the aviation sector. But in North America, in the absence of such laws, progress is much slower.

Last month, Alaska Air chairman and CEO Bill Ayer lauded sustainable biofuels as “key to aviation’s future,” at the start of Alaska Air’s biofuel trial period of 75 regularly-scheduled commercial flights running on a biofuel blend.  Alaska was on course to be the first airline in the U.S. to fly a commercial flight powered by biofuel but two days before they were scheduled to do so, United edged out Alaska Air to take the honors.

Unlike Alaska Air, however, United has no immediate plans to procure a long-term supply of biofuels for use in their domestic aviation operations.


and Guardian at

see also

Branson hoping for 50% “sustainable” aviation fuels by 2020 (8 years ahead)

Date added: December 5, 2011

Guardian article about Richard Branson and his hopes for aviation being able to use biofuels for perhaps 50% of their fuel by 2020. This is based on the hope that biofuels, from algae in particular, will be very low carbon. There is a lot of unfounded optimism about what biofuels’ carbon emissions will be, now cheap they will be, and how fast they can be scaled up to industrial quantities. Branson’s aim is not to cut overall emissions, but get cheap fuel for airlines, so they can continue to grow – and thus postpone the day when the industry acutually starts to be responsible for its environmental impact.

Click here to view full story…

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EU – Double counting for cooking oil biodiesel approved in Germany

France and the Netherlands already double count biofuels made from used cooking oil, and Germany also does this, backdated to January 2011. This is all fuels, for aviation as well as for road transport.  It means products are counted twice towards the national quota of the amount of supposedly low carbon fuel being used by that country. They get this double countin because of their reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The German biofuels quota stipulates that the use of tallow-based products for biodiesel production be phased out completely from 2012. SkyNRG in Holland provides aviation biofuel based on  used cooking oil to several airlines.

Double counting for biodiesel approved in Germany

22 December 2011

The German Federal Finance Ministry says it will qualify biodiesel produced from used cooking oil for double counting, even if it includes animal fats.

The Netherlands and France already includes waste-based biodiesel within its double counting legislation and it is possible to double count in countries that have not yet implemented their schemes officially, such as in the UK.

Previously, Germany was unable to implement the double counting measures because of tracebility issues but it has since resolved this.

It is thought that Italy and Spain will soon follow suit, and with the double counting scheme applying to both used cooking oil and tallow, it should allow for these counties to use a wider range of feedstocks for biodiesel production. It is hoped that this will encourage price levels of raw materials to stabilise. 


Germany double counts waste-derived biofuels

08 Jun 2011 (Argus)

Germany has introduced the double-counting of certain types of biodiesel derived from waste products, as it looks to meet the EU 10% target share of renewables in transport fuels by 2020.

The measures, which were finalised on 6 June, have been enacted retrospectively from 1 January 2011, the Germany environmental ministry told Argus.

The German regulation aims to translate the EU Renewable Energy Directive into national law. The directive stipulates that waste-derived biodiesel products are counted twice towards the national quota because of their reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU regulation allows for a wide interpretation of waste-derived products, ranging from used cooking oils (UCO) to animal fat or tallow feedstocks.

But Germany has only opted to include certain types of biomass, such as UCO, while tallow or animal-based produced remain exempt from double counting.

Several other European countries have already enforced legislation, including the double-counting of tallow products.

The German biofuels quota stipulates that the use of tallow-based products for biodiesel production be phased out completely from 2012.

Consumption of waste-derived biodiesel in Germany has fallen sharply over the past two years. Waste-derived products accounted for 5% of overall biodiesel consumption in 2009, falling to 1% last year. This is partially because of incentives offered in other European countries, promoting exports.

German biodiesel sales rose by 2.6% to 2.58mn t in 2010 from a year earlier.

The Dutch government says, on double counting of biofuel:

Double counting of advanced biofuels

Double counting of better biofuels
Economic operators who bring petrol or diesel on the Dutch market, can count certain biofuels double to fulfill their biofuel obligation. For example, a company that meets its entire target commitment for 2011 via these better biofuels, only needs to sell 2.125% biofuels, rather than the standard 4.25%.
The double counting of biofuels is described in paragraph 6 of theMinisterial Order Renewable Energy in Transport. With this order, the Ministerial Order Double counting better biofuels from 2009 is lapsed. The contents of this lapsed ministerial order are included in the new order of Renewable Energy in Transport.

Which biofuels should count double?
The paragraph applies to biofuels produced from waste, residues and lignocellulose materials. Only raw materials that can not be used for a higher value application other than for generating electricity or heat, composting or using the ligno-cellulosic part as animal fodder, are eligible for double counting. Should a particular raw material have an alternative application, then a market analysis must be used to prove that there is an excess of this material available, before it may become eligible for double counting.

Demonstrate that biofuels meet the requirements for double counting
In order to proce that the biofuels are eligible for double counting, companies must send annual reports to the Ministry of IenM as part of the reporting on the mandatory share of biofuels (see Article 3 of the Decree on Renewable Energy in Transport). The information provided by the fuel suppliers must be accompanied by a so-called verification statement. Inspection bodies should issue this verification statement.
Inspection bodies use the verification protocol double counting of better biofuels. This protocol includes basic rules, procedures and guidelines for the verification of double-counted biofuels. The verification process consists of two phases. The first, preparatory, phase is where the auditor gathers all the necessary information from the producer (and, where necessary, from suppliers) and visits the production site. On the basis of this information, the auditor conducts a risk-analysis and draws up a verification plan. The second phase consists of the actual audit and random checks, with reports of the tasks implemented and the conclusions drawn. If all criteria have been met, the inspection institute issues a verification statement at the end of phase two.

Requirements inspection bodies must meet to issue a verification statement
Inspection bodies that issue an verification statement, must be accredited in accordance to the information standard NEN-EN ISO/IEC 17020, type A. In addition, the institutions should be accredited to the additional tasks relating to the double counting of biofuels by the Dutch Accreditation Council or the Accreditation Council has finished a preliminary process to achieve accreditation, even if the complete procedure is not yet finalised.

Ability to demonstrate sustainability using the verification protocol
In addition to double counting, the protocol also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the sustainability of biofuels made from certain feedstocks. These include biofuels made from residues and wastes not originating from agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry origin.
The verification certificate issued by an inspection body then serves both as a declaration that certain biofuels may count as double as as a statement that the sustainability of biofuels is shown. For other feedstock, such as grown lignocellulosic biomass, a separate sustainability statement has still have to be sent in, along with a statement relating to double counting.

History of the verification protocol double counting better biofuels
In August 2009, then SenterNovem, commissioned DEKRA to draw a verification protocol. After developing an initial draft protocol, DEKRA and Control Union implemented three trial investigations at biofuel producers. After evaluation of these pilots, the final protocol was adopted. During 2010 and 2011 the protocol was updated twice. The latest updated version is known as version 3.0, dated May 2011.
NLAgency is currently responsible for managing the verification protocol.

Further information
More information on double counting and the verification protocol can be found in the following documents:

If you have any questions about the double counting of biofuels, please contact NLAgency: Bregje van Keulen (

Oct 6, 2011  The biofuel blend has been supplied by Netherlands-based SkyNRG, [seeSkyNRG comment below] which has already supplied fuel for the
Jun 23, 2011  The fuel is produced by Dynamic Fuels and supplied by SkyNRG, the SkyNRG is advised by an independent Sustainability Board, consisting

Thai Airways conducts biofuel test flight

December 21, 2011     Thai Airways has flown a 20 minute flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, for the media, airline representatives etc, using partly biofuels, provided by Dutch company SkyNRG. It used 50% ordinary jet fuel and 50% recycled cooking oil from the US. SkyNRG says “SkyNRG does not commit to one single feedstock or technology. The sustainability of alternative aviation fuels depends on many factors and has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.” There will be the first passenger flight tomorrow.  Click here to view full story…


SkyNRG – Sky Energy | The Fuel Future » Finnair to start flying on…/finnair-to-start-flying-on-sustainable-jet-fuel-out-of-

13 Jul 2011 – Finnair and SkyNRG have also agreed to jointly work on a structural supply chain, as both parties firmly believe that the adoption of “green 

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US Navy buys another 450,000 gallons biofuel for practice exercise

The US Navy has bought 450,000 gallons of biofuel – its largest purchase – in order to try and reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuel oil. It is costing the Navy about $15 per gallon, compared to $4 for ordinary jet fuel. The oil came partly from Dynamic Fuels (in Louisiana) made from used cooking oil and animal fat, and from Solarzyme which produces algal fuel.  Solarzyme has already sold the Navy bout 150,000 gallons of their fuel. It will be used in 50% mixture in planes and ships, for a practice “green strike group” Naval exercise off Hawaii in 2012.

US Navy in big biofuel purchase

by Staff Writers  (Bio fuel Daily)
Washington (AFP) Dec 5, 2011

The US Navy unveiled plans Monday for its biggest-ever biofuel purchase as part of an effort to reduce dependence on imported oil.

US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the 450,000 gallons (1.7 million liters) were part of the “largest single purchase of advanced drop-in biofuel in government history.” The biofuel also “comes from non-food sources and does not increase the carbon footprint.”

The purchase aims to meet President Barack Obama’s goal “to achieve more energy security by finding ways to lessen our dependence on oil and fossil fuels,” Mabus said.

The Defense Department will purchase biofuel made from a blend of non-food waste, including algae produced by Solazyme and used cooking oil from the Louisiana-based Dynamic Fuels, LLC, a joint venture of Tyson Foods and Syntroleum Corp.

The fuel will be used in the US Navy’s demonstration of a “green strike group” in 2012 during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the world’s largest international maritime exercise off the coast of Hawaii.

Mabus said the entire strike group, including aircraft and ships, will use a 50 percent biofuel blend, mixed with diesel for the ships, and aviation fuel for the aircraft.

By 2016, the Navy aims to send a carrier strike group on a normal, multi-month deployment using 50 percent biofuels for both surface ships and aircraft.

The biofuel is considered a drop-in fuel, meaning no modifications to the engines are required.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who joined in the announcement, said the move helps improve energy security “by basically producing our own fuels in a creative and innovative way.”

Navy Takes Flak for $15 / Gallon Biofuel Purchase Totalling $12M

DECEMBER 27, 2011


Critics claim that $15 / gallon (the calculated pump price) is too much. The Navy says this will accelerate the production of homegrown fuel and contribute to Navy’s goal of 50% renewable fuel by 2020.

The 450,000 gallons of agal and animal fat oil-based fuel constitutes the largest single purchase of biofuel in US history.

While the fuel is an advanced, drop-in biofuel (it requires no engine modification), it will first be blended 50/50 with marine diesel or aviation gas and then used in a demonstration aircraft-carrier group dubbed “The Green Strike Group.”

In preparation, the Navy says it has already tested the fuel in F/A-18s and all six of the Blue Angels, along with the V-22 Osprey, the RCB-X (riverine command boat), training patrol crafts and other vessels.

Two companies will deliver the order, despite producing biofuel from two wildly different sources. Dynamic Fuels (half-owned by Tyson Foods) produces fuel from waste fat and greases, while California-based Solazyme is an algae-based biofuel company.

Before this contract, Solazyme had already delivered about 150,000 gallons of their fuel to the Navy.

The demonstration comes as a response to President Obama’s “we can’t wait” energy security goals, outlined in the March 2011 “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,” which prompted the Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy, and Navy to set aside up to $510M for renewable fuels over the next three years.

This money will be invested in partnerships with the private sector to produce drop-in biofuels for military and commercial use.

Critics aren’t happy, claiming that a back-of-the-napkin $15 / gallon is too much when compared to the standard aviation-fuel price of $3.97 per gallon.

It seems a bit unfair to compare the two, considering that aviation-fuel has about a 72-year head start. The simple fact that algae biofuel is being successfully tested in advanced tactical aircraft is incredible, let alone that it’s being done at any kind of scale.

Will biofuels always be more expensive than fossil fuels? Probably!

But since when did the US military care about paying a little extra? The Navy’s major point here about acquiring 50% of their fuel from renewable, home-grown sources is the strategic consideration of reliable access to fuel.

If the US loses a large percentage of primary fuel imports, it sure would be nice to have access to something else, cost be damned.
For some differing opinions on this, see the following:

Navy under scruitiny for buying $15/g biojet fuel
Jim Lane | December 29, 2011

In Washington, the U.S. Navy is under scrutiny for spending $12 million to purchase biojet fuel at $15 per gallon compared to the standard aviation-fuel price of $3.97 per gallon. The Navy defends the purchase by stating it will accelerate the production of domestically produced fuel and contribute to the Navy’s goal of 50% renewable fuel by 2020.
The 450,000 gallons of agal and animal fat oil-based fuel is the largest single purchase of biofuel in US history. Produced by Solazyme and Dynamic Fuels respectively, the fuel is an advanced, drop-in biofuel that requires no engine modification. However, it will first be blended 50/50 with marine diesel or aviation gas and then used in a demonstration aircraft-carrier group dubbed “The Green Strike Group.”

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Making cellulosic biofuels out of wood chips and grass just loses money

One of the possible sources of so-called “sustainable” biofuels for aviation is cellulosic biofuel – derived from plant material like wood chips, woody waste or various grasses. Several companies have been given large government grants in the USA to work on this, but it has proved to be too costly and fraught with problems. Tar production in the equipment is a problem that has proved hard to solve, especially at scale. One company has now failed and had to auction off its assets. Another is turning to corn (= maize) as that can make money, though the realise it competes with food and so affects food prices.

To Survive, Some Biofuels Companies Give Up on Biofuels

Companies such as Gevo hope to become profitable by turning corn into chemicals.

Plan B: The plant Gevo is retrofitting in Luverne, Minnesota.

Gevo, a prominent advanced-biofuels company that has received millions in U.S. government funding to develop fuels made from cellulosic sources such as grass and wood chips, is finding that it can’t use these materials if it hopes to survive. Instead, it’s going to use corn, a common source for conventional biofuels. What’s more, most of the product from its first facility will be used for chemicals rather than fuel.

As the difficulty of producing cellulosic biofuels cheaply becomes apparent, a growing number of advanced-biofuels companies are finding it necessary to take creative approaches to their business, even though that means abandoning some of their green credentials, at least temporarily, and focusing on markets that won’t have a major impact on oil imports. This is hardly the outcome the government hoped for when it announced cellulosic-biofuels mandates, R&D funding, and other incentives in recent years.

Cellulosic biofuels still cost much more to produce than either corn ethanol or gasoline. One reason is that startups have had trouble raising enough money to build the large-scale commercial plants needed to lower costs. That’s in part because their technology is unproven, and in part because there’s no guaranteed market for cellulosic biofuels yet.

Additionally, government mandates that were meant to help create a market for cellulosic biofuels have so far been ineffective; it’s typically cheaper for the fuel providers affected by the mandate to purchase credits rather than biofuels. And finally, supply chains for cellulosic materials aren’t yet well developed, so companies face a challenge when they try to lock in reliable access to them.

Gevo’s strategy addresses all these problems. Besides relying on corn in order to overcome supply challenges, the company is reducing capital costs by retrofitting existing corn ethanol plants rather than building new ones; the retrofit of the first plant, in Luverne, Minnesota, will cost about $40 million, a fraction of the hundreds of millions it costs to build a new plant. And rather than making ethanol, Gevo is making butanol, which can command a higher price—especially for use as a feedstock for the chemical industry. Gevo expects that it can make butanol from corn—a readily available feedstock—for significantly less than it costs to make it from petroleum.

Gevo plans to start operations at Luverne within the next six months or so and hopes to produce 17 million gallons of butanol per year there. Most of it is destined for Sasol Chemical Industries, which will sell the butanol to make chemicals.

Butanol can be converted into a wide range of chemicals for making plastics and other products that are now made with oil. Gevo already has an agreement with a major maker of synthetic rubber, and last week it announced a partnership with Coca-Cola to develop plastic bottles made entirely from plants.

Gevo is not entirely abandoning the fuels market, however. It has an agreement with a distributor that can sell the butanol for use in small engines and marine engines, two applications where ethanol doesn’t work well. It’s also making 11,000 gallons of jet fuel from its butanol for the U.S. Air Force, which wants to test it for use in planes. That contract will cover the cost of a 10,000-gallon-per-month jet fuel demonstration plant, says Pat Gruber, Gevo’s CEO.

The use of corn for fuels and chemicals is controversial, in part because growing and processing corn releases significant amounts of greenhouse gas, and in part because using corn for fuel may affect food markets.

Gruber says the impact on food supplies and prices is mitigated by the fact that the protein in corn is still available for use in animal feed. He even makes the case that using the sugar from corn to make fuel rather than soft drinks could help the obesity problem in the United States.

“Suppose we’re in a world where we’re making huge quantities of fuels and displacing petroleum. We could come to the point where we’re running in a conflict of food versus fuel,” he says. “We should use only excess carbohydrates to make fuels.” Even so, eventually the company plans to use nonfood sources. “The feedstock in the U.S. right now is corn starch,” he says. “That’s the right feedstock for us. In the future it will be cellulosics.”



see also

Cellulosic Aviation Biofuels    30.9.2011



Reuters  30.11.2011

Advanced Biofuels Industry Hunkers Down for Hard Times




The Death of Range Fuels Shouldn’t Doom All Biofuels

(Advanced Biofuels USA)
Submitted by joanne on December 15, 2011

by Kevin Bullis (MIT Technology Review)

This month, Range Fuels, one of the first companies in a wave of startups that promised cheap biofuels made from sources such as wood chips rather than corn, shut its doors for good and was forced to auction off its assets.

The company failed for many reasons, but the biggest seems to be that its technology proved too expensive, something that experts say shouldn’t be a surprise, since it was similar to other technologies with well-known problems.

Range Fuels benefited from being an “early mover” in the field, says David Berry, a partner at the venture capital firm Flagship Ventures. “It got a lot of attention, and so it was well positioned to raise a bunch of money. The reality was, the technology couldn’t quite keep up with the attention,” he says. “That led to the company’s demise.”

Range Fuels, which had planned to turn wood chips into ethanol, received substantial attention in 2006, after President Bush declared in his State of the Union Address that the United States was “addicted to oil” and pointed to “cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switchgrass.”

By the following year, Range Fuels had received a $76 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and had broken ground on a commercial-scale plant in Soperton, Georgia. That plant was designed to produce 20 million gallons of fuel a year at first, and eventually 100 million gallons.

At the time, Range Fuels said its plant could produce fuel by 2008, but it still wasn’t finished in 2009, when it received an $80 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help with construction. In addition to government funding, over its history, the company received over $150 million in venture capital.

The Range Fuels plant produced some methanol in 2010, but it operated at a loss, and it was shut down in 2011. By December 2011, the company had received just over $40 million of the full grant awarded by the DOE (the rest was to come at the next phase of construction). David Aldous, the CEO of Range Fuels, says $37 million of the loan guarantee is outstanding.

Range Fuels’s technology is similar to a process that’s long been used to convert coal into liquid fuels. It starts with a gasification step that uses heat, pressure, and steam to turn wood chips into a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide known as syngas. The company then used catalysts to make a combination of methanol and ethanol. It claimed that by using a proprietary catalyst, and some smart engineering, it could make the normally expensive process more economical.

As early as 2007, energy experts were raising red flags about the technology (as Technology Review noted here). Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, said that their attempts to scale up similar technology had revealed a number of problems.

…One possible problem, says Helena Chum, a research fellow at NREL, is tar formation during the gasification step, something that has plagued similar attempts at gasification by Georgia Pacific and other companies. “Even if it’s a small amount in experiments, when you go into industrial production, it becomes an enormous amount to deal with,” Chum says. The problem was known to researchers, she says, “but technology developers sometime ignore research results in trying to move fast.”

Chum says other problems can arise from gasifying biomass—including the presence of inorganic impurities and irregular proportions of the gases formed, which requires modifying catalysts and processes, all of which can be expensive and time-consuming.

Some sources have suggested that the culture at Range Fuels caused the company to downplay the significance of technical challenges as it rushed to scale up the technology. Chum says that’s common. “Usually developers are optimistic, so they go with very short time frames. Even if companies have people on the staff that say it will take longer, the investors don’t want to wait a long time, and sometimes neither does the government,” she says.

Aldous says the biggest problem Range Fuels encountered was securing enough money to address the technical challenges it faced, especially in the midst of a recession. He says the company could only get enough money to build the plant in stages, and that the partial plant had to operate at a loss.

The system for feeding biomass to the gasifiers, which Range Fuels bought from a supplier, could only provide enough to supply one of the company’s two gasifiers, while the other stood idle. “This meant we were losing money with each gallon we produced; the supplier needed a few months to redesign their system, which is why we mothballed the plant,” he says.

By early 2011, even Vinod Khosla, the prominent investor who provided seed funding for Range Fuels and who had written enthusiastically about the company during its early days, was criticizing the company’s basic technology. “In our view, the traditional path of chemical catalysis of syngas to fuels (be it ethanol or Fischer-Tropsch synthesis) appears economically challenging,” he wrote in January. “Technologies like Range that started with chemical catalysts will need to switch over to these newer fermentation techniques.”

Commenting in a recent e-mail to Technology Review, Khosla noted, however, that it is typical for many of the companies pursuing a new technology to fail. “The nature of the venture race is that the best technology (lowest cost, highest performance, etc.) in each technology does very well, some do okay, and many fail because their technology was not good enough,” he says.

Chum agrees. “We shouldn’t call the failure of one company the failure of a field,” she says.


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