Ben Caldecott, who is – surprisingly and depressingly – a trustee of the Green Alliance, has written in the Guardian of his support for biofuels as the future for aviation. This appears to be a re-hash of an article he did almost three years ago, and does not appear to take on board the serious reservations there are now about the environmental, climate and social impacts of biofuels. He proposes that air travel will need to expand for business and pleasure, and biofuels will solve the aviation industry’s problem. He says, without ever mentioning which biofuel he is considering, and where they will come from, that key airports like Heathrow, Dubai, New York and Hong Kong will need to be using fuel contining an increasing amount of biofuel. It turns out that he works for an organisation that has just been taken over by a big agribusiness and biofuels company. And the Committee on Climate Change expects at the most 10% aviation biofuel by 2050.
As a small, maritime trading nation Britain has always been some distance from big international markets. Our ability to visit far-off places and people, and their access to us, has always been at the heart of our ability to punch above our weight in the world, whether that’s commercially, culturally or diplomatically.
In the past we were dependent on ships, now we are reliant on commercial airlines, as well as the Channel Tunnel and secure data networks. This infrastructure is critical for our future, particularly as we look to major economies like India, China and Brazil for export opportunities. But it is also vital for sustaining our outward facing society and culture; one that’s confident engaging with the world and welcoming of its diversity.
Rail and video-conferencing will help, but air travel will remain absolutely essential and more people are going to fly, especially to and from a networked, diverse, outward-facing island nation like our own.
We should embrace this, but we must also recognise that flying more will also have negative consequences, in particular greenhouse gas emissions. The positive progress on including aviation in Europe’s carbon trading scheme this week is welcome, but neither that nor more efficient aircraft will deal with the industry’s climate problem. As I will argue, only biofuels can do that. Aviation currently accounts for a relatively small proportion of global carbon emissions: 6% of UK, 4% of European Union and 2% of world. This will change fast though, with global aviation expected to grow at 5% a year for at least the next 15 years. If so, by 2050 aviation emissions will account for up to 20% of global emissions, making tackling global warming significantly harder.
Including aviation in the Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme is a step in the right direction, but at current carbon prices it will not spur the innovations needed to cut pollution. Some say the aviation sector has a good track record of improving the fuel efficiency of new aircraft, achieving an average annual improvement of about 1.5%. But these emissions savings will be completely overwhelmed by growing global demand for aviation.
So we desperately need something that can deliver a step-change in emission reductions from existing fleets, particularly as planes built today will be in service for many years to come. The only option is to replace existing jet fuel (kerosene) with an alternative that can deliver deep emission reductions and be used to current aircraft. Fortunately, this technology exists: sustainable bio jet fuels. Made from advanced feedstocks and able to provide significant life-cycle emission reductions and meet other stringent sustainability standards, these fuels can be produced today and have already received certification for use in commercial jet aircraft. They can also be produced now at costs not far above the high and volatile price of jet fuel, with Bloomberg predicting that they could potentially reach price parity with kerosene in 2016.
There is an opportunity for the UK to align its need to develop new airport capacity with the development of sustainable bio jet fuels at scale. We should work to ensure that any new airport provide airlines with the best biofuels available.
Airport operators should have to provide airlines with a blend of jet fuel that has a significant and rising proportion of sustainable bio jet fuel. This would significantly reduce emissions from flights. The mandate should start at an achievable level, say where the blend would have to be 15% less polluting than jet fuel today based on the strictest sustainability standards. It could then ratchet up to reach a point where the blend was 60% less polluting within a reasonable time-frame.
Airlines would benefit from a genuine and cost-effective emission reduction strategy, which might even attract environmentally conscious flyers. Not many hubs would need to follow the UK before the majority of international flights used sustainable bio jet fuel blends, perhaps only New York, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore need change, in addition to London.
An ambitious blending mandate would send exactly the signal required to accelerate the development of sustainable bio jet fuels. Airport operators would be required to demonstrate they had a plan to meet the incoming mandate and would sign supply contracts with developers, which would spur innovation and investment. The UK government could also ensure that our leading biotech, aviation and university sectors work in unison to create solutions, through targeted research programmes and tax relief for collaborative work.
The luddite wing of the environmental movement (see below) will think such proposals sacrilegious – their only solution is to stop flying. But the reality is that there will be and should be more international travel, particularly to and from the UK. The challenge is to make this as least polluting as is possible, while also minimising local airport impacts. By aligning the debate about airport capacity sensibly with environmental objectives, we can make a significant dent in aviation emissions globally as well as guarantee sufficient airport capacity to keep UK plc open for both business and pleasure.
There are a lot of comments under the article, at the address above.
Here is one of them
“Bunge Limited (“Bunge”), a leading global agribusiness and food company, and Climate Change Capital Limited (“CCC”), a U.K.-regulated sustainable asset manager and advisor, today announced that Bunge has completed its previously announced acquisition of 100% of Climate Change Capital Group Limited (“CCCG”), the parent company of CCC.”
“Headquartered in London, Bunge’s sugar trading and marketing arm sources sugar and ethanol through our origination network in Brazil, Thailand and other geographies and markets it to customers around the world.”
“Bunge also produces oilseed-based biodiesel at joint venture facilities in the Americas and Europe, and has investments in a small number of corn ethanol plants in the United States.”
Contrary to what Ben says, it was not only the “luddite wing of the environmental movement” who disagreed however. The Government’s climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, privately (personal converstion) described the report as barmy and recently published advice on biomass which argued that the most efficient use for biomass fuels is in buildings, followed by static installations with CCS, allowing the double benefit of CO2 being captured afterwards and stored. Putting it in planes came a long way down the list in terms of sensible uses. Given likely constraints on availability once sustainability criteria are applied, it seems very unlikely that much of it will make its way into aircraft engines.
Meeting the UK aviation target – options for reducing emissions to 2050
Concerns about land availability and sustainability mean that it is not prudent to assume that biofuels in 2050 could account for more than 10% of global aviation fuel:
– It is likely that use of aviation biofuels will be both technically feasible and economically viable.
– However, there will be other sectors which will compete with aviation for scarce biomass feedstock (e.g. road transport sector for use in HGVs, household sector biomass for cooking and heating, power generation for co-firing with CCS technology).
– And it is very unclear whether sufficient land and water will be available for growth of biofuels feedstocks given the need to grow food for a global population projected to increase from the current 6.7 billion to around 9.1 billion in 2050.
– Biofuel technologies that would not require agricultural land for growth of feedstocks (e.g. biofuels from algae, or biofuels grown with water from low-carbon desalination) may develop to change this picture but must be considered speculative today.
– Given these concerns, it is not prudent today to plan for high levels of biofuels penetration. We have assumed 10% penetration in our Likely scenario
Reflecting these considerations, our scenarios for biofuels penetration in aviation in 2050 range from 10% (Likely) to 30% (Speculative). Given uncertainty about whether the higher figures are compatible with sustainability, it is not prudent to base current policy on the assumption of a penetration rate above 10%. It is possible that over time more optimistic assumptions may become justified but these should only be used as a base for policy if and when there is clear evidence that all sustainability concerns have been addressed.
the concluding paragraph of “Review of the potential for biofuels in aviation”
In the more likely scenarios where conventional crops are not used, 10% of jet is not reached until 2026 even in the highest scenario (High BTL, new crops only, SH scenario). In the other scenarios, this is pushed out as far as 2035. This is limited by the availability of new oil crops, and the BTL plant build rate. The speed at which new oil crops will become available for HRJ production depends both on their successful development (breeding, agronomy etc), and on the rate of uptake by farmers and agro-industry, who must adapt to new practices and markets. In addition to this, there was relatively poor availability of data on new oil crop status and potential, and so this could be better assessed with further work or further information put into the public domain. Another key uncertainty is the availability of the new oils produced for HRJ production: we have assumed that only half of new crop production is available for plants producing HRJ, with the rest being used for plants only producing HVO or other uses. Considerably more detailed analysis of vegetable oil markets would be needed to assess how much production would be driven by HRJ demand alone.
For comparison, current biofuels production for road transport is around 1.6EJ
163, which is equivalent to 17% of current jet demand, or 13% of 2020 jet demand.
In a clear early-warning to the global aviation and transportation industry, the UN Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) has asserted that growing usage of biofuels is already contributing to higher food prices, and indicated that the problem could get worse in future. A new UNCTAD report launched in Doha says “mounting financial speculation in commodities and the increasing diversion of agricultural land to biofuel crops has changed the forces underpinning commodity prices, pushing them through a sustained period of increase”. It particularly warns the aviation industry, which is aiming to shift into biofuels in their attempt to reduce emissions, and says the industry has downplayed the long-term impact on land-usage and food prices.
In a clear early-warning to the global aviation and transportation industry, the UN Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) has asserted that growing usage of biofuels is already contributing to higher food prices, and indicated that the problem could get worse in future.
The Commodities and Development Report 2012 (UCDR), a new UNCTAD publication launched on April 23 at the UNCTAD XIII quadrennial conference in Doha, Qatar, says “mounting financial speculation in commodities and the increasing diversion of agricultural land to biofuel crops has changed the forces underpinning commodity prices, pushing them through a sustained period of increase.” It says that “a sustained rise in prices for raw natural resources and basic agricultural goods is defying long-standing patterns and appears to be hurting poor nations through rising food and fuel costs more than it is helping them through higher revenues for their commodities exports.”
The report sounds an early-warning alert to the aviation sector specifically and the transportation industry in general. Both are shifting to alternative fuels, with biofuels seen as an important part of the mix. However, the aviation sector’s publicity blitz on biofuels has positioned the shift as part of an effort to alleviate global warming. It has downplayed the long-term impact on land-usage and food prices.
The UNCTAD report changes that scenario, making it clear that the shift will not be risk-free and that short-term gain could lead to long-term pain.
It says, “UNCTAD identifies biofuels as a third new twist in the current commodities boom. In the 2003-2004 harvest year, world maize farmers devoted 5 per cent of their crops to producing ethanol, which is marketed as an alternative to fossil fuels and mixed with gasoline. By the 2010-2011 harvest year, the proportion of world maize production converted to ethanol had tripled to 15%.
Generous subsidy programmes in the USA, Europe, and Brazil played a role in convincing farmers to use maize and sugar crops to produce biofuels instead of food. UNCTAD estimates that competition from biofuels contributed an estimated 15 to 20 per cent to cereal export prices. More fundamentally, biofuels link cereal markets with energy markets, weakening the influence of demand and supply signals on cereal prices.”
According to the report, this shift in energy usage, although being public touted as an opportunity to create new jobs in alternative fuels, is actually bolstering the bottom-lines of commodity speculators and investors.
It says: “One driving force of the change is the massive influx of financial capital that has flowed into commodity futures markets since 2003, the report says. Financial investors differ from producers or traders in that they are not concerned with the physical delivery of products, but rather in buying delivery contracts and later selling them for higher prices, thus repeating speculative profits. As these financial investors have pulled their money out of troubled bond and equity markets, the number of commodity futures contracts traded worldwide has exploded, climbing from approximately 500 million in 2003 to more than 2.5 billion in 2011. Similarly, the worldwide value of commodity derivatives, including both futures and options, rose from just over US$1 trillion in 2003, to more than $8 trillion in 2007, before subsiding to $3 trillion in 2009 and 2010.
“UNCTAD contends that this “financialization” of commodities futures has fundamentally changed the conduct and outcomes of commodities markets in general, for example by changing a producer’s price expectations and reducing his ability to hedge against risk.”
Hence, the report says, “what should be a boon for poor nations, especially the globe’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs) — whose economies often depend heavily on commodity exports – is on balance a negative development because many of these countries are net importers of oil and staple foods, the study says. Since the food crisis of 2008, prices for basic nourishment have been both volatile and high, the report says – and poor families are acutely vulnerable, as they typically spend 50 per cent or more of their incomes on food.
Among the UCDR’s recommendations:
• Steps should be taken to invest in national and regional food reserves to help food-insecure countries;
• The recent shift to “finance-driven globalization,” as it applies to commodities, should be reconsidered, especially in comparison to the standard development model in which profits from commodities exports are used to increase domestic investment that can help diversify and expand the capacities of developing-country economies;
• That fiscal and taxation policies be adjusted so that they help developing countries reap stable, long-term economic benefits from commodities exports; and
• That measures be taken nationally and internationally to improve the situations of small farmers and other small commodity producers in poor countries.
It says: “Thus far, the 2003-2011 commodities price boom has unfolded differently than previous booms. Historically, commodity price cycles involved a short, rapid price increase, followed by a steep decrease, and then a long period of stagnation before the next spike. This boom-bust cycle has frustrated the economic prospects of countries whose development strategies rely on exporting their natural resources or farm products. By contrast, in the current boom, these commodity-dependent developing countries (CDDC) have benefited from relatively sustained price increases since 2003, with only a brief retreat in 2009.”
The report downplays the impact on climbing commodities prices of growing Chinese demand. China has undertaken rapid industrial development over the last two decades, a process that has required large volumes of imported raw materials such as oil, metals, and rubber, as well as food to feed its factory workers. This demand is often cited as the main factor driving the price boom across all commodity products. UNCTAD finds that Chinese demand has indeed dominated the markets for metals such as copper, nickel, and in particular iron ore, for which it accounted for 63 per cent of world imports. But China’s share of world imports of oil (7 per cent) and food commodities (all less than 2 per cent), although significant, is not so high as to drive price movements.
From a development perspective, the report details how the unique characteristics of the current boom have affected CDDCs. A direct effect of high and volatile food prices is reduced food security among the poorest populations. The 2008 food-price crisis pushed an additional 119 million people worldwide into hunger. Many CDDCs are net food importers, so high food prices result in trade deficits for their governments. Food prices have remained volatile ever since, which dissuades farmers from investing in new equipment or land and overwhelms the insurance and hedging facilities available to them.
Many CDDCs also are disproportionately dependent on oil imports. Thus, despite the additional revenues they received from exports of other commodities, these revenues were often outweighed by the increased cost of oil imports. As a result, the countries’ trade balances have suffered despite the boom. For households in developing countries, the rising costs of fuel and food imports are a serious threat, as food represents 50 per cent or more of an average household’s total expenditures – much more for the poorest households.
Apart from paying for increased oil and food import costs, CDDC governments have mainly invested their export windfalls in international capital markets, a startling deviation from the previous export-led development model. During the rapid industrial development of many East Asian and Southeast Asian economies, for example, governments reinvested earnings from exports of oil or agricultural products in industrial or infrastructure projects, or in domestic capital markets. These investments helped diversify their economies, improving their productive capacities and increasing their available capital.
Instead of these domestic investments, CDDC governments have used export earnings to repay foreign debt and to build their foreign exchange reserves. These foreign capital transactions are important for demonstrating solvency and economic stability to foreign investors, but they do not contribute to the productive and capital sectors of CDDCs’ domestic economies.
According to UNCTAD, this trend in which developing countries invest their export earnings in international capital markets is a symptom of a larger shift to a “finance-drive globalization” model. If such a shift has occurred, it has major implications for countries that follow export-led development strategies.
Among other things, the report recommends that the “international governance architecture” as it relates to commodities be studied and reconsidered and that more research be carried out on possible policy and technical solutions to the challenges faced by CDDCs.
All Nippon Airways, in Japan, have used 10% biofuel (it does not say whether in one or more engines) mainly from SkyNRG used cooking oil, in its Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The plane flew from Washington to Tokyo. ANA says there were significant carbon savings – though two thirds of the carbon savings claimed come from the Dreamliner itself, rather than the fuel. There are known supply problems with used cooking oil, and there is not enough of it to be more than a token gesture for the aviation industry, on publicity flights. Boeing say the Dreamliner can carry 201 – 250 passengers on routes of up to 14,200 to 15,200 km; and 250 to 290 passengers on routes of up to14,800 to 15,750 km. Boeing claim it produces 20% less CO2 than a similarly-sized current commercial aircraft.
(Boeing says the biofuel is mainly used cooking oil – with a bit of chicken fat)
Boeing 787 delivery flight to ANA marks first use of biofuels on the new Dreamliner and also first across the Pacific
17 April 2012 (GreenAir online)
Biofuel from used cooking oil has been used to power in part the delivery flight of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner joining the All Nippon Airways (ANA) fleet from Boeing’s Delivery Center in Everett, Washington (south of Vancouver), to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
Not only is it the first use of biofuels on Boeing’s new mid-size, twin-engined aircraft capable of flying long-range routes but it is the first time a biofuel blend has been used on a transpacific flight. Boeing said the flight emitted an estimated 30% less emissions of CO2 when compared to similarly-sized current commercial aircraft as a result of a 10% blend of biofuel and an approximate 20% saving from the technology and efficiency advancements offered by the Dreamliner.
“Our historic flight using sustainable biofuels across the Pacific Ocean highlights how innovative technology can be used to support our industry’s goal of carbon-neutral growth beyond 2020,” said Osamu Shinobe, Senior Executive Vice President of ANA, the launch customer for the 787.
The biofuel was supplied by Dutch company SkyNRG.
According to Boeing, the 20% improvement in the fuel efficiency of the 787 is down to four key technologies: new GE and Rolls-Royce engines, increased use of lightweight composite materials that make up half of the primary structure, more efficient systems applications and modern aerodynamics.
Boeing says the Dreamliner is the first mid-size airplane capable of flying long-range routes and will allow airlines to open new, non-stop routes. The manufacturer argues that it provides an environmental advantage as it connects passengers more directly with their destinations rather than having to transfer through hub airports and eliminates the need for additional takeoffs and landings.
The airliner will travel at a similar speed as today’s fastest wide bodies and offer airlines more cargo revenue capacity. The 787-8 version will carry 210 to 250 passengers on routes of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles (14,200 to 15,200 km), while the 787-9 will carry 250 to 290 passengers on routes of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,750 km).
Boeing also promises an improved interior environment, including higher humidity levels.
“The 787 is the most environmentally progressive jetliner flying today, combining fuel efficiency and comfort with reduced carbon emissions,” said Billy Glover, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ Vice President of Environment and Aviation Policy.
Chicken Fat Biofuel Could Power Navy’s Green Strike Force
The $12 million contract, announced yesterday, covers 450,000 gallons of biofuel, some of which will be rendered into synthetic fuel from nonfood grade animal products courtesy of Tyson Foods, Inc. through a partnership called Dynamic Fuels LLC. Dynamic Fuels can use a wide variety of nonfood feedstocks including rendered chicken fat and other inedible animal fats. Inedible beef tallow and used cooking oil currently dominate the mix.
Agricultural giant Tyson Foods Inc. and fuel developer Syntroleum Corp say they’ve begun in recent weeks to make diesel and jet fuel from chicken fat, beef tallow and a range of greases and oils at a plant they’ve built in Geismar, La., south of Baton Rouge. The raw materials are leftovers from Tyson’s meat-processing plants and other food-processing factories and restaurants.
The Louisiana refinery has the capacity to produce 75 million gallons of fat-based fuel annually—making it tiny by oil-industry standards but among the bigger alternative-fuel plants in the U.S. [Aviation annually uses about 70 billion gallons on fuel. link So this fat would produce 0.1% of global aviation fuel].
Buyers include oil companies mandated by federal law to mix renewable fuel into their conventional diesel, the companies say, though they wouldn’t identify the purchasers, citing confidentiality agreements. The U.S. Air Force confirmed that it has contracted to buy about 40,000 gallons for testing the fuel for potential use in planes.
The nation’s biggest meat corporations have taken notice. Tyson Foods announced in November it has established a renewable energy division that will be up and running during 2007. Competitors Perdue Farms Inc. and Smithfield Foods Inc. are making similar moves. As meatpackers enter the field, they bring massive amounts of fuel stock that could make biodiesel cheaper and more plentiful.
The shift to animal fat as a fuel stock could be key to making the budding biodiesel industry a reliable fuel source for U.S. trucking fleets, said Vernon Eidman, a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota who has extensively studied the biofuels industry. Eidman estimates that within five years, the U.S. will produce 1 billion gallons of biodiesel, and half of it will be made from animal fat. By that time soybean-based biodiesel will account for about 20 percent of the total, he said.
For fuel refiners, the allure of animal fat is clear. Soybean oil costs 33 cents a pound while chicken fat costs 19 cents. Soybean oil is in the blend because it adds necessary lubrication for engine parts.
For companies like Tyson, the attraction is simple. Being the nation’s biggest meat company, Tyson is also the biggest producer of leftover fat from chicken, cattle and hogs. Tyson is keeping the specifics of its renewable fuels division under tight wraps. But Tyson Vice President Jeff Webster told a recent investment conference the potential is clear. Tyson produces about 2.3 billion pounds of chicken fat annually from its poultry plants. That’s about 300 million gallons that could be converted to fuel.
Biofuel in Action Around the World
The United States produces almost 5,000,000,000 kilograms of fat from chickens, cows and pigs each year, so it is not surprising that enterprising scientists would look for ways to use this â€˜wasteâ€™ product.
Qantas will use recycled American cooking oil to help power a biofuel trial flight tomorrow (13th April). The aircraft will use a mix of biofuel and conventional jet fuel for the Sydney-Adelaide return service. Produced by Dutch firm SkyNRG, the fuel has been used by several other airlines. Qantas claims its “life cycle” carbon footprint is around 60% smaller than that of conventional jet fuel. It is part of a long-term plan to reduce a fuel bill that totalled A$3.6 billion last year. Last year they were enthusiastic about algal biofuel, but there is no mention of that now.
Qantas will use recycled American cooking oil to help power a biofuel trial flight tomorrow.
The aircraft will use a mix of biofuel and conventional jet fuel for the Sydney-Adelaide return service. Produced by Dutch firm SkyNRG, the fuel has been used by several other airlines.
Qantas says its “life cycle” carbon footprint is around 60 per cent smaller than that of conventional jet fuel. It is part of a long-term plan to reduce a fuel bill that totalled A$3.6 billion last year.
The airline said the goal of the flights was to raise awareness about the potential for sustainable aviation fuel in Australia.
Spokesman Tom Woodward said that while other airlines had run biofuel flights, debate about alternative aviation fuel in Australia had been limited.
The production of biofuels for aviation was now well advanced, he said.
“What we want to do is take the next step and see how we can produce it in Australia.
“To some extent we’ve been cautious about not wanting to do a flight for the sake of it. We want to build some momentum over here.”
Bookings for the 90-minute to two-hour flight were solid, he said.
Fuel was the biggest operational cost for Qantas and like other airlines it faced carbon emission charging.
Dutch airline KLM, Chile’s LAN and Finnair have trialled SkyNRG fuels which come from a variety of feedstocks besides used cooking oil.
At the end of 2008 Air New Zealand successfully ran a trial in which it powered a Boeing 747 with a 50:50 blend of imported jatropha biofuel and traditional jet fuel and is looking for local alternatives. Last December it signed an agreement with Australian firm Licella to examine the development and commercialisation of a process to convert woody biomass into biofuel.
SYDNEY – Qantas Airways Friday launched its first commercial flight using a blend of recycled cooking oil and aviation fuel, in what the airline hopes will be the first step towards a sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia.
A biofuel powered Qantas A330 took to the skies as the airline announced a new $500,000 government-backed effort to study the feasibility of an Australian biofuel industry.
Shell Australia will partner Qantas in the $500,000 Emerging Renewables Program grant with the aim of studying long-term viability of biofuel feedstock and the production of low carbon aviation fuels.
“Australia has the skills, resources and infrastructure to take the lead in this emerging sector,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said at a press conference ahead of the Sydney-Adelaide flight.
Like other airlines, Qantas has been hit hard by high fuel prices over the past two years. Fuel accounts for the largest expense of an airline. To offset the high aviation fuel cost, Qantas has already raised ticket prices twice this year.
In February, the Australian carrier announced plans to slash at least 500 jobs and cut costs after an 83% slump in first-half net profits.
Lufthansa last year became the first airline to establish biofuel powered schedules flights four times daily between Frankfurt and Hamburg aboard an Airbus A321. In Lufthansa’s case the 50% biofuel partly includes animal fats.
The use of 50:50 blend of aviation fuel with recycled cooking oil, sourced from US company SkyNRG, is Qantas’ latest bid to hold down the fuel bills while also cutting emissions.
Last year last year announced a joint venture with Solazyme, a US based company, to study algae based biofuels. Several other airlines are pursuing various biofuel options. One such is an attempt to make eucalyptus based biofuel by Virgin Australia and Airbus.
Though biofuel remains significantly more expensive than conventional jet fuel, Joyce said a shift has become a necessity given the economic and environmental costs of petroleum-based fuels.
“We need to get ready for a future that is not based on traditional jet fuel or frankly we don’t have a future,” he said.
Qantas shift to biofuel is in part dictated by Australia’s move to enforce carbon emission tax from July 1. Europe already imposes a controversial carbon tax on airlines, while New Zealand has a carbon tax that applies to flights within that country.
“From July, Qantas will be the only airline in the world to face liabilities in three jurisdictions, so our sense of urgency is justified,” said Joyce.
Qantas study has found that the certified biofuel it has opted for has a “life cycle” carbon footprint that is about 60 per cent less than that of conventional jet fuel.
At the end of 2011 they were talking about algal biofuel ………..
Qantas, Solazyme and Solena to launch Australian biofuels flights in 2012
Qantas has announced that Australia’s first commercial flight powered by “sustainable” fuel will be in early 2012. Qantas has signed agreements with Solazyme (in the USA), which is working with algae-based aviation fuels, and Solena (in the USA), which is experimenting with waste-based fuels. Qantas hopes to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5% each year. Solarzyme’s fuel is called Solajet, and they aim to scale its production up to commercial levels.
Qantas, Solazyme to launch biofuels flights in 2012
November 14, 2011 (Biofuel Digest)
In Australia, Qantas announced that the country’s first commercial flight powered
by sustainable fuel will be carried out in early 2012.
This year, Qantas has signed agreements with two leading manufacturers of sustainable
aircraft fuel. Solazyme is working with algae-based aviation fuels and Solena
is experimenting with water-based [sic – they probably mean waste based] fuels.
The airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, stated that only the production of sustainable
aviation fuel on a commercial basis could deliver a generational step in emissions
reduction. Qantas is committed to improving fuel efficiency by 1.5 per cent each
Solazyme, Qantas sign aviation biofuels development partnership
February 11, 2011 (Biofuel Digest)
In California, Solazyme announced that it has begun a collaboration with Qantas,
to pursue the potential for commercial production of Solazyme’s microbial derived
aviation fuel, Solajet, in Australia. This represents the first collaboration
in the Asia-Pacific region to explore the use of Solajet in commercial aviation.
There is currently a six billion liter a year demand for aviation fuel in Australia.
Qantas is also working with another US company, Solena, to determine the feasibility
of using MSW for production of biojet fuel.
More on the story.
Last month, we wrote: “At a series of public and private meetings this week on
the Rodeo Drive of algae, North Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, California, Qantas
confirmed that it is in advanced talks with an unnamed algal biofuels producer
(“with strong ties to Australia”) that are expected to result in a letter of intent
for an offtake agreement for algal jet fuel, with the potential that Qantas may
take a financial stake in the venture.
Qantas’ Peter Broschofsky, who is coordinating the initiative for Qantas as well
as chairing the environment committee of the International Air Transport Association
(IATA), also confirmed that the company, hopes to complete feasibility work on
its first biofuels project within six months. Qantas signed LOI with Solena earlier
this year, and launched what was described at the time as a 12-month investigation
of the potential to develop a 19 million gallon waste-to-jet fuel plant in Australia.
Possible Qantas equity stake?
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is reported to be “putting on the pressure, for the team
to get on with it,” and Broschofsky said that Qantas has not ruled out taking
an investment stake in a biofuels enterprise, though he suggested that any decisions
would be taken after completion of feasibility work. He said that there continued
to be some uneasiness at the Qantas board level on the wisdom of entering the
biofuels sphere as an equity partner.
“Three or four years ago at IATA,” Broschofsky said, “biofuels weren’t even on
the radar; it was in the “too hard” category. But $180 per gallon fuel at the
wing (in 2008) got everyone’s attention – it was a real crisis.” He described
how Boeing galvanized the industry behind the development of the Bio-SPK jet fuel
specification, which most observers are predicting will be approved in the first
half of 2011 and possibly late in the first quarter.
“Watch the flood,” Broschofsky predicted, “after the fuel is certified, interest
will be at a fever pitch, and we want to get in ahead.” He detailed how it was
Boeing’s interest that brought Qantas into the biofuels arena, and Qantas in turn
galvanized broader support within IATA.
Lufthansa and KLM have flown trial flights, with KLM using – as far as we can make out -used cooking oil fuel, and Lufthansa using fuel made of 80%camelina and 15% jatropha. MilieuDefensie (Friends of the Earth in the Netherlands) has been able to get a written undertaking from KLM not to do future business with a company called Waterland, which produces jatropha. The KLM undertaking does not rule out other jatropha or other unsustainable biofuels in future, however. MilieuDefensie is asking people to write to Lufthansa, to get them to also stop using jatropha fuel. In September 2011, Jatenergy Limited announced it had sold 200 tonnes of crude jatropha oil at US $1,000 per tonne from its joint venture operations with Waterland. The oil had been refined into biojet fuel for Lufthansa by Neste Oil.
KLM PROMISES MILIEUDEFENSIE NOT TO DO BUSINESS WITH WATERLAND INTERNATIONAL
KLM/Air France has stated in writing that it will not do business with the Dutch investment company Waterland International now nor in the future. Last month Milieudefensie demanded that the company immediately stops investing in jatropha, the plant used for the production of biokerosene for European aviation. Our report ‘Biokerosene: Take-off in the wrong direction’ showed that the cultivation of jatropha in Java leads to serious exploitation of farmers and has a negative impact on food cultivation for local people. This is a high price to pay for the production of a “green” fuel which, as it turns out, is not even environmentally friendly. Milieudefensie is pleased that KLM has disassociated itself from any form of involvement with Waterland International’s injurious practices. KLM’s statement can be found here.
Statement from KLM
‘Following publication of the report Biokerosene: Take-off in the wrong direction, KLM has informed Milieudefensie that it will not do business with Waterland. KLM disputes the assertion by Waterland’s director, William Nolten, that his company has contracts with KLM to supply biokerosene. KLM has also told Milieudefensie that it has no current or future plans to directly or indirectly purchase raw materials to produce biokerosene from Waterland.’
The suggested text of the letter to Lufthansa says:
Don’t fly on Indonesian jatropha
Dear Mr Buse,
I am writing you in connection with the recently published report ‘Biokerosene: take-off in the wrong direction’ by Milieudefensie (the Dutch Friends of the Earth, and a sister organization of the German organisation BUND).
The Milieudefensie report (in English) describes the social and ecological consequences of jatropha cultivation in the Gobrogan district of central Java, Indonesia. Small farmers there are growing jatropha, hired by firms like the Dutch company PT Waterland International. Lufthansa bought the oil made from this jatropha through the Finnish company Neste Oil and used it for test flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt.
The report states that the population of the Gobrogan district have suffered adverse effects from the cultivation of jatropha for Lufthansa. Jatropha competes with food crops such as maize for land. The farmers are also losing income. The United Nations and the World Bank have also found that other crops grown for biofuels have similar effects.
Milieudefensie has also identified the ecological consequences of flying on jatropha oil and other biofuels. In the media, Lufthansa emphasizes that its CO2 emissions are falling thanks to its use of biofuels such as jatropha. There is, however, a growing body of scientific evidence showing that the emissions from biokerosene are no less than those from conventional kerosene. These facts are not mentioned anywhere by Lufthansa. To put it mildly, this is too rosy a picture of the state of affairs.
I’ve seen and heard through the media that Lufthansa considers the test flights with biokerosene successful, despite its harmful effects, and is planning to use biofuels on a much greater scale in the future. You have also indicated that you will continue to acquire some of the fuel for these flights from Indonesia.
I am greatly concerned and therefore am asking you to do the following:
• Be honest about the actual emissions of greenhouse gases from biokerosene.
• Acknowledge that by growing crops used for biofuels for Lufthansa, the local population in the Gobrogan district has suffered, and compensate them for these damages.
• Abandon commercial use of biofuels, since they are harming the climate and cutting food production.
• Replace your objective to use more biokerosene with that of setting emission reduction objectives based on real reductions in emissions.
In July 2011, Lufthansa launched a six-month biofuel trial between Frankfurt and Hamburg. One of its two Lufthansa Airbus A321 engines runs on a 50/50 mix of regular fuel and biokerosene. The 800 tonnes of biokerosine are made up of 80% camelina (from the US), 15% jatropha and 5% animal fats. The jatropha used for Lufthansa’s biokerosene
was sourced from Indonesia and Mozambique.
In July 2011, the director of Sun Biofuels Moçambique announced the company had sold
30 tonnes of jatropha oil to Lufthansa. A further 200 tonnes were bought from Jatenergy Limited/ PT Waterland International in Indonesia.
The report also says (page 17):
Growing jatropha for European aircraft – The Waterland Group
One of the companies that invested in jatropha production in Grobogan was the Netherlands based Waterland Group, a consortium of companies established to support a joint investment initiative to secure biomass feedstock for biomass power plants in the Netherlands.
One of the Group’s target markets is the European market for aviation biofuels. The Waterland Group has established a joint venture with Australia-based Jatenergy Ltd called Jatoil Waterland, which is responsible for trading the feedstock on the world market.
On 8 September 2011, Jatenergy Limited announced it had sold 200 tonnes of crude jatropha oil at USD 1,000 per tonne from its joint venture operations with Waterland. The oil had been refined into biojet fuel for Lufthansa by Neste Oil. Waterland’s CEO William Nolten told journalists that there were also contracts with KLM and other European Airlines.
Jatoil Waterland’s activities in Grobogan are based on a partnership with the State Forest
Company, which officially holds 35 % of the land in Grobogan. This area belonged to
the former Dutch colonial teak estates. The local people have always struggled to retain access to the land and forestry resources in the area.
While some farmers without land titles secured access to the land, they have no real rights
and state authority over the land can be (re) enforced, especially when seemingly lucrative
economic opportunities appear.
A new report on biofuels used in aviation has been produced by Milieu Defensie, in the Netherlands. The aviation industry places its hopes of achieving “carbon neutral growth” in future on extensive use of biofuels, as well as carbon offsets from other sectors. The new report shows that not only are the carbon emissions “well to wake” of biofuels for aviation small, but the conventional calculations ignore the non-CO2 effects – cirrus cloud induced by contrails, and NOx effects. These impacts are the same for biofuels as for conventional jet kerosene, and may as much as double the climate effect of jets flying at high altitude. The report points out that the carbon emissions caused by the growing of biofuels are not accounted for anywhere, under the current system – creating a large anomaly in the EU ETS.
A maximum of 50% of the climate impact of cruising aircraft is caused by CO2 emissions.
Other non-CO2 climate effects (contrails, induced cirrus cloud, NOx) are as powerful, or even more powerful when calculated using a 20-year time horizon or shorter. Neglecting these climate impacts, as commonly happens, cannot be justified, especially not for countries where aviation is a major contributor to climate emissions.
Using agrofuels in aviation will deliver only the same – no more, no less – benefits in terms of tonnes of avoided carbon emissions as using agrofuels in other transport modes, but does not address non-CO2-impacts that are particular to aircraft.
Adding to that it is always important to take into account that agrofuels often do not
even result in a net carbon emissions reduction, due te the large climate effects of indirect land use change.
The use of well-to-wake (+) analysis does not on its own imply that agrofuels cannot deliver any carbon savings from the aviation sector. However, using agrofuels to mitigate the climate impact of aviation growth is practically ineffective, as non-CO2-effects are not affected and will continue to grow.
This is the case for the effects on the atmosphere of aircraft on cruise altitude and
for the climate effects of increasing feedstocks for agrofuels. The negligible climate effects of bio-kerosene combined with the competition for scarce land, that is now used for food production or biodiversity conservation leads to the conclusion that there is little to win but much to lose.
Our report shows that if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided, it will without doubt
be necessary to limit the growth in aviation and to find approaches to substantially reduce aviation’s generation of contrails and AIC. Industry aspirations to continue business as usual growth without increasing the net climate effect are a dangerous illusion.
An extract from Page 13:
Europe aviation accounts for 3.5 % of European CO2 emissions. For the Netherlands the percentage is even higher, 5.7% of national CO2 emissions excluding international shipping. The European aviation industry aligns itself with the global aviation industry policy of using agrofuels as a solution. Air France-KLM sees ‘sustainable agrofuels’ as ‘the most promising route to achieving significant reductions in aviation’s CO2 emissions whilst at the same time providing security of supply and exemption from EU-ETS.
The growth perspective in the mature European aviation market will be below the global average of 4.5% the industry (IATA) assumes; to be able to assess the future impact of aviation on Europe’s climate forcing emissions, we assume a prolonged growth of 4% per annum, and the efficiency gains of 1.5% per year which the industry envisages.
Therefore, European airlines are expected to use 2.5% more fuel per year. If the aviation industry were to fuel its growth entirely by using agrofuels, the effect on emissions would be 2.5% emissions growth due to non-CO2 effects plus 0.6 times 2.5% for climate emissions due to the production of bio-kerosene crops. In many cases, land use change would cause even more emissions related to crop production. While aviation’s share of European climate emissions would rise from 5.5% to 9.8%, airlines would still be able to present this as carbon-neutral growth.
An extract from Page 6:
The aviation ETS motivates airlines to use agrofuels because the ETS falsely assumes that agrofuels have no net greenhouse gas emissions.
Using agrofuels therefore makes zero-emission growth possible, on paper at least. This is a result of the Kyoto Protocol which uses the same calculation method and of the decision to neglect climate effects of aeroplanes other than CO2 emissions.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, emissions related to the production of agrofuels are accounted for in the country where the components are grown.
The credit is assigned to the country where the fuel is burned, which assumes that the CO2 emitted was absorbed from the atmosphere when the fuel components were grown.
This seems reasonable, but the problem is that countries that produce agrofuels have no obligations under the Protocol. These agrarian emissions are therefore not accounted for anywhere. This is a big caveat as we will see in Chapter 5.
Another aspect is the non-CO2 climate impacts of aeroplanes that are responsible for at least half the climate impact of a plane. Those have also been left out of the EU aviation ETS ( the option to buy allowances from other industries without taking into account non-CO2 emissions that in the aviation sector are responsible for at least half the climate impact).
“Agrofuels in planes – heating the climate at a higher level”
GreenAir online reports at length on proceedings of the World Biofuels Markets 2012 conference that took place in March in Rotterdam. Delegates agreed the price of biofuels was still too high to make them commercially viable, and finding fuels that genuinely avoid ILUC (indirect land use change) are not available in large amounts. The airlines and companies want credits for these fuels, and incentives to increase production. Some airlines are prepared to pool together to buy jointly, in order to give producing companies the scale, and the future certainty, they need. For example, there is a 14-airline agreement with AltAir for up to 75 million gallons per year of camelina-derived fuel and a 10-airline letter of intent with Solena for 14 million gallons per year from 2015. And United has executed a LOI to pursue the purchase of 20 million gallons of fuel from Solazyme
The three main obstacles facing the introduction of sustainable aviation biofuels: price, price and price
2 Apr 2012 (GreenAir online)
According to Finnair’s VP Sustainable Development, Kati Ihamäki, biofuels are the fastest route to meaningful long-term reductions in aviation greenhouse gas emissions but supply chain problems need to be overcome and the major hurdle remained “price, price and price”.
This was a familiar theme at the recent World Biofuels Markets 2012 aviation stream conference in Rotterdam, with commercialisation and production scale-up providing a significant challenge to the development of a sustainable jet biofuels industry. However, there are growing signs that policy-makers at European Commission and US government level are willing to join with industry to find solutions.
Last year, Finnair was among the first to conduct a sustainable fuel commercial flight following ASTM certification but Ihamäki said with jet fuel already making up around 35% of Finnair’s overall costs and low profit margins it was hard to justify the investment in being an early adopter. “The price level will have to come down before it is feasible – you cannot afford to pay three or four times the normal cost for conventional jet fuel,” she said. “However we have to be proactive and show that this is doable so that we can bring other players on board, get the economies of scale in place and help drive down the price.”
Boeing’s Director of Sustainable Aviation Fuels Strategy, Darrin Morgan, said there was a bottle-neck as many airlines wanted the new fuels but came up against suppliers who needed project finance but had to wait until the certification milestone had been passed, which was only nine months ago.
He said there were still only a limited number of suppliers out there and the high cost of the available fuels was down to the expensive cost of sending feedstocks to facilities for conversion to jet fuel.
“There is no rocket science involved in making the fuel, the problem right now is there aren’t any full-scale production facilities,” he said.
“You hear of numbers like $20 per gallon and $5-6 per litre – we know where those costs are coming from. It’s not the fundamental cost of making jet fuel, it’s the fact that you’re having to borrow a facility and pay a lot of money for a very small run.”
However, Morgan sees a ray of sunshine for US airlines looking to use advanced renewable fuels. This is a potential outcome of recent preliminary ruling by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that allows for certain feedstock pathways to qualify for so-called RFS2 RIN credits. Morgan sees these credits worth up to $2 per gallon.
“There’s work still to be done on the programme but if it comes to pass, it will have a huge impact – it could change everything,” he believes.
One US airline that is certainly looking for alternative sources of jet fuel is United, which last year used in the region of 4 billion gallons of jet fuel at a cost of around $13 billion.
“Given the price volatility, anything we can do to wean ourselves off crude oil onto other feedstocks with more cost stability gives us the ability to run our business a whole lot better,” said Robert Sturtz, United’s Managing Director of Strategic Sourcing – Fuel and also Chairman of the A4A Energy Council.
“We are very concerned about the sustainability issues but we need alternatives. They must have a carbon footprint better than conventional fuels we use today but we are going to need alternative fuel supplies in the very near future. We will need a whole range of solutions.”
To this end, United and other US airlines have collectively negotiated a number of offtake agreements with potential jet biofuel suppliers. Examples include a 14-airline agreement with AltAir for up to 75 million gallons per year of camelina-derived fuel and a 10-airline letter of intent (LOI) with Solena for 14 million gallons per year from 2015.
United itself has executed a LOI to pursue the purchase of 20 million gallons of fuel from Solazyme and has signed an MoU with Gevo for future supplies of the company’s as yet uncertified isobutanol-derived jet fuel for United’s Chicago base. Sturtz said the airline was in discussions with a number of other potential suppliers.
“What we are doing is to help these biofuel companies commercialise their technology,” he said, referring to the collective agreements. “The prices may be slightly higher than for conventional fuels but they are being shared by the wider airline industry so that no single airline is put at a competitive disadvantage.”
With cash-strapped airlines looking to drive down the price of these new fuels from a fledgling industry, why should the aviation sector be regarded as an attractive market?
“Aviation is a ready-made market for biofuels,” said Sturtz. “90% of fuel supplied to airports in the US is transported by a major pipeline system. The top 35 airlines make up 85% of the total US jet fuel market, with only four or five major carriers accounting for 75%. It’s an easy market to address.”
British Airways’ Head of Environment, Jonathon Counsell, pointed out that supplying just 100 airports worldwide with alternative fuels would deliver around 80% of global airline demand.
Counsell sees other unique selling points for aviation as a long-term customer for sustainable biofuels, not least the lack of alternative energy sources that are available to the ground transport sector. “We’ll be using liquid energy for the next 50 years.”
He said governments that are serious in looking to decarbonise industry have started to recognise that they will have to provide policy instruments to provide the right incentives for those sectors with no alternatives. Counsell illustrated the example of the Flightpath 2020 joint initiative launched by the European Commission’s energy directorate that had set out a roadmap for the industry to be using 2 million tonnes of drop-in sustainable jet biofuel by 2020.
He said governments needed to address the uneven playing field in which there were biofuel incentives for the ground transportation sector that were not available to aviation. “We don’t want subsidies, we don’t want loans – we just want a level playing field with biodiesel and eligibility for the same credits.”
Given the life of a typical aircraft was anything between 15 and 25 years, Counsell said fuel and emissions reductions from advances in new aircraft and engine technology took a long time to feed through. “If you have a low-carbon fuel, you can use it tomorrow,” he said.
“That lead-time advantage is one of the reasons why so many of us are excited about the immediate impact biofuels can have.”
Counsell reported construction of the $350 million Solena municipal solid waste to jet biofuel plant in east London will start next year, with fuel production likely to start in 2015. As well as helping with the planning process, BA has signed a letter of intent to purchase all the biofuel, which will fulfil around 2% of the airline’s requirements and is expected to reduce annual carbon emissions by around 145,000 tonnes.
A downside was the high capital cost of the facility but, he said, “the economics are beautiful once you’ve built it.”
The business case was driven by a UK landfill tax and, to a lesser extent, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, he explained, and the creation of 1,200 jobs was also an important local consideration, particularly at this time.
He said a major attraction of the process was that there were no indirect land use change (ILUC) issues that would bring the airline into conflict with a strong and effective NGO community, “and we didn’t want to spend most of the time defending it.”
Mark Watson, Head of Environmental Affairs at Cathay Pacific, said the carrier had appointed at the beginning of the year a biofuels manager “to deal with this hugely complicated issue and massive challenge we now face in getting these fuels into our aircraft.”
Watson said there was considerable concern within the industry on what he described as “true” sustainability issues, such ILUC. “We must be cognisant of the challenges made by NGOs and anything we do in terms of large-scale investment must not have a negative impact on livelihoods.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from biofuel providers – there’s plenty of opportunity out there – but trying to find something that ticks all the boxes is proving extremely difficult.”
Policies need to be introduced to help overcome the many hurdles in the biofuels supply chain, said Thijs Kommen, KLM’s Head of Tactical Planning. “If these hurdles are taken away, the business case will become more sound than it is today. The major challenge is the price – it’s way too high. We need innovators with new technology and feedstocks to develop the market, but sustainability is the main precondition.”
Neste Oil used the World Biofuels Markets (WBM) to present findings of the Lufthansa series of flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt that had been recently completed. Kaisa Hietala, VP Market Development, reported that 1,187 flights had taken place overall, using 1,557 tonnes of Neste’s NExBTL renewable aviation fuel blend and had resulted in savings of 1,471 tonnes in CO2 emissions.
She said the aircraft, engines and analysed components involved in the flights had all performed normally and overall fuel consumption was 1% lower due to the higher energy content of the fuel blend. Inspections after the programme had been completed showed the engines’ combustion chamber and turbines in a perfect condition, normal function and tightness of fuel bearing parts and no contamination or corrosion in the fuel tank. She reported there had been no storage issues and the fuel had showed excellent stability.
Hietala said Nestehad started an extensive research programme on future biofuels to identify the most suitable algae species to produce fatty acids and the optimum production conditions, with a view to commercially producing fuels after 2018. In the shorter term, the company is investing in Europe’s first pilot plant based in Finland that will use agriculture or paper industry residues to produce renewable aviation fuel as early as 2015.
“We really need to find the raw materials to boost the development of aviation biofuels,” she said. “We hope algae and microbial oil from residue streams will provide some of the answers in the future.
“There is clearly work to be done around feedstocks, and stakeholders must all work together. Otherwise, I don’t know if this industry will take off.”
Jim Woodger, Sales Manager of Honeywell’s UOP, said there was a strong demand from European airlines for the company’s Green Jet Fuel as a result of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. He pointed out that the capital costs of producing its jet fuel were around 25% higher than for its renewable diesel product. “A question for aviation is how do we incentivise pre-investment such that we have a production unit that has the flexibility to make jet fuel as well as diesel.”
He said the challenge was to produce so-called HEFA-SPK [Hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids – Synthetic Parafinnic Kerosene] biofuels that were no more expensive than the price of fossil jet fuel plus the cost of carbon.
The HEFA-SPK biofuels themselves are not expensive, he said, it was the feedstocks. The processing costs were the same for both jet kerosene and HEFA fuels but the problem was current feedstock was significantly more to start with compared to a barrel of crude oil.
“If we can get more supplies of other new feedstocks, such as algal oils, camelina and pennycress, along with the other mechanisms to get this market going, then this would help the industry move forward,” he said.
Loan guarantees for producers, such as those to be provided under the $100 million US government programme, were also essential if the jet biofuels industry was to get off its feet, said Alejandro Rios, Director of Fuel Services at Mexico’s ASA. However, he warned that mandates, fiscal incentives, subsidies and a lack of local pipeline and refining infrastructure were causing significant market distortions and problems for developing countries such as Mexico.
“We’re going to struggle to become competitive because of the extra capacity that exists elsewhere, for example in the United States. We don’t have any capacity to transform vegetable oils or other types of feedstock into a renewable jet fuel in Mexico.”
Thomas Rötger of IATA said the different sustainability criteria under the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compared with the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) was another problem for producers looking to export into different markets.
“For example, if you have certification from the US to qualify under RFS, you cannot easily transform this to also get recognition in the EU under RED and you have to redo the certification,” he explained. “This is a tedious process that creates administrative and cost burdens to the producer.”
For this reason, he said, airlines and IATA itself was calling for a global agreement amongst states in order to either harmonise sustainability standards or at least have a system of mutual recognition.
Claire Curry, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said that in order reach an industry take-up of 6% of sustainable jet biofuel by 2020, representing some 17 billion litres of fuel, as predicted by the International Energy Agency, would require an investment of some $18.6 billion.
According to Curry, some jet biofuel pathways are likely make better economic sense than others. Fuels from non-edible crops such as jatropha and from cellulosic pyrolysis, for example, could become cost-competitive with conventional jet kerosene if grown at commercial scale. Other pathways requiring, for instance, a gasification process are unlikely to produce jet fuels at a competitive price, whereas algal-based fuels may not prove themselves until the mid-2020s to 2030.
Identifying the ‘winners and losers’ in the technology race towards commercialisation and the raising of funds is seen as a major component of the strategy being adopted by the European Commission and industry Flightpath 2020 initiative.
Dr Kyriakos Maniatis from the Commission’s energy directorate told WBM delegates a benchmarking process had been set up that would adopt key performance indicators to provide independent and transparent evaluation of the various value chains in progress, so as to inform stakeholders of their reliability. He said 19 value chains had been submitted to the Commission for evaluation so far and these would be monitored on an annual basis.
“It is clear the biofuel industry is engaged and eager to prove the reliability of their technologies,” he said.
In mid-April, Porter Airlines plans to use one of its Bombardier 70- to 80-seat Q400 turboprop airliners to conduct the first biofuel-powered revenue flight in Canada. It has already made a biofuel test flight. Rather cynically they are timing their flight close to Earth Day “to emphasize the contribution that biofuels are expected to make in helping the aviation industry meet its targeted reduction in emissions,” and there are a lot of worthy-sounding green sentiments expressed about carbon savings …. the usual over-optimistic greenwash stuff. The fuel they will use will be 50% biofuel, and of that 49% camelina and 1% Brassica carinata (a member of the brassica family, similar to rape, and also called Ethiopian mustard). Targeted Growth Canada (TGC) produced the crop of Camelina. The 1% Brassica carinata may be a GM crop, being grown in Canada.
Porter Airlines to Conduct Canada’s First Biofuel-Powered Revenue Flight
· Flight to be scheduled just before Earth Day with a Bombardier Q400 turboprop
· Preparatory test flight successfully flown by Bombardier in February 2012
In mid-April, Porter Airlines plans to use one of its Bombardier Q400 turboprop airliners to conduct the first biofuel-powered revenue flight in Canada. On February 9, 2012, in preparation for Porter’s upcoming flight, a Bombardier Q400 turboprop test aircraft became the first aircraft in Canada to fly on the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D7566 bio-derived jet fuel, which was recently certified.
“We are timing our biofuel-powered flight close to Earth Day to emphasize the contribution that biofuels are expected to make in helping the aviation industry meet its targeted reduction in emissions,” said Robert Deluce, President and Chief Executive Officer, Porter Airlines. “Q400and Q400 NextGen aircraft are already among the ‘greenest’ aircraft in the world and the use of biofuel will make the aircraft even more environmentally conscious.”
Porter’s biofuel-powered revenue flight will utilize a 50/50 blend of biofuel with Jet A1 fuel.The biofuel portion is derived from the oilseed crop,Camelina sativa* (49 per cent) and Brassica carinata* (one per cent). (see below)
“The two-hour preparatory flight was flawless and the bio-derived fuel performed as expected,” said Mike Arcamone, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “During the flight, the Q400 aircraft successfully undertook several maneuvers including engine-out climbs, rapid engine accelerations and cruising to verify the performance of the aircraft while using the bio-derived fuel.”
Other key partners in the biofuel program, which was first announced in 2010, include Saskatchewan-based Targeted Growth Canada (TGC), the producer of the crop of Camelina sativa and Pratt & Whitney Canada, the manufacturer of thePW150A engines that power the Q400aircraft. Funding for the program is being provided by the partners as well as by the Green Aviation Research & Development Network (GARDN).
Further details regarding Porter’s biofuel-powered revenue flight will be released in the coming weeks.
About Q400 aircraft
The Q400turboprop airliner, which is built at Bombardier’s Toronto, Ontario facility, is the advanced successor to Bombardier’s Dash 8/Q-Series family of aircraft. Optimized for short-haul operations, the “comfortably greener,” 70- to 80-seat Q400 aircraft is a large, fast, quiet and fuel-efficient turboprop. It provides an ideal balance of passenger comfort and operating economics with a reduced environmental footprint.
Setting new environmental standards, the Q400 aircraft uses 30 to 40 per cent less fuel and produces 30 to 40 per cent fewer emissions on routes where it has replaced similar-capacity, older jets. Overall, the Q400 aircraft is 15 decibels quieter than ICAO Chapter 4 noise standards; raising the bar for the entire industry.
More than 380 Q400 aircraft are in service with approximately 40 operatorsin 30 countries, on six continents. These aircrafthave transported more than 177 million passengers.
About Porter Airlines Founded in 2006, Porter Airlines has revolutionized short-haul flying with a warm and effortless approach to hospitality and restoring glamour and refinement to air travel. An Official 4 Star Airline® in the World Airline Star Rating® by Skytrax, and rated second in the world in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards Top Small Airlines category, Porter is committed to providing a premium travel experience. Complimentary amenities include luxurious airport lounges, Starbucks coffee, premium snacks, and wine or beer onboard.
The airline currently offers flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec City, Moncton, Halifax, St. John’s, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, Windsor, New York (Newark), Chicago (Midway), Boston (Logan), Washington, D.C., and has seasonal flights to Mt. Tremblant, Que., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Burlington, Vt. Visit www.flyporter.com or call (888) 619-8622 for more information.
GARDN – the Green Aviation Research and Development Network is a business–led Network of Centres of Excellence. Its mission is to promote aerospace technologies aimed at the protection of the environment. The seven themes of research targeted by GARDN are: noise and source emissions reduction, materials and manufacturing processes, airport and aircraft operations, alternative fuels and product lifecycle management. GARDN’s activities are in support of the competitive excellence of Canadian aerospace products and services, the economic success of the member companies as well as the development and training of highly qualified personnel. www.gardn.org
A world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011, were $18.3 billion, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at www.bombardier.comor follow us on Twitter @Bombardier.
*Camelina sativa and Brassica carinata are members of the family of flowering plants known as the Brassicaceae. The Brassicaceae also include well-known plants such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and turnips.
Carinata in mustard family. Contracts designed to generate 5,000 to 10,000 acres this year
Jets are expected to make test flights this year using biofuel produced from Brassica carinata, a new oilseed in the mustard family grown in Western Canada last year.
The fuel will come from 50 acres of production last summer, but Agrisoma, the company advancing the crop and its industrial applications, plans to contract 5,000 to 10,000 acres this year.
Patrick Crampton, vice-president of business and product development for Agrisoma, told Saskatchewan mustard growers at Crop Production Week that processors tested seed from 2011.
The yellow coated, low fibre seed, also known as Ethiopian mustard, performed well at crushing plants. The oil was sent to interested aviation fuel makers.
“We are basically working with two of the major producers out there,” Crampton said.
“One is Honeywell-UOP, which has the current registered technology.… They just finished production last week and we are going to have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 800 to 1,000 litres of jet fuel produced.”
He expects test flights by military and commercial jets will be announced later this year.
“It is a key part of the development of a new market, where it is not just a new crop. It is an entirely new value chain.”
The oil is processed in a different way than for biodiesel and must produce jet fuel that is indistinguishable from the petroleum-based product to meet airline specifications.
The aviation industry is pursuing plant-based feedstocks for renewable fuels with a smaller carbon footprint. Biofuel made from jatropha, camelina and animal fat are already undergoing flight tests.
Carinata’s oil is high in erucic acid ideal for industrial applications such as jet fuel.
The crop, which is native to Ethiopia, is suited to the hotter, drier areas of the Prairies and has been in Agriculture Canada research and breeding programs for more than a decade.
Carinata maturity was three weeks later than a mid-season Argentine canola [which we call rape in the UK] when scientists first started working with it, but they were able to reduce it to only five to seven days later.
Agrisoma, which has been co-operating with Agriculture Canada, the Plant Biotechnology Institute and the Mustard 21 project, will use its gene altering technology to enhance the oil profile and yield.
“The vision is to put the biotechnology in longer term, but we are focused on launching the conventional crop right now,” Crampton said.
“Even though it is an industrial crop, we know we need to pursue full food and safety registration for the GM product. We are committed to not jeopardizing other markets. The emerging low level presence legislation that is being developed worldwide is a key factor to that launch.”
Agrisoma will have contracts in a few weeks that are designed to attract 5,000 to 10,000 acres of production by 30 to 50 farmers.
It is working with Paterson Grain on the identity preserved closed loop contracts.
The payment will be $12.50 per bushel on farm plus an incentive of $40 per acre.
Last year it was grown in three Saskatchewan locations: Kincaid, Frontier and Scott.
“The small plot yield data shows the elite line we are bringing out is 15 to 20 percent higher yield than the oriental mustard checks,” Crampton said.
The crop’s commercial success will be enhanced if there is a market for the meal left over after crushing.
Traditional mustard types produce meal that has quality protein but suffers from high glucosinolate levels that hurt its use in livestock feed rations.
“Carinata is not truly a condiment type, spicy mustard. It is kind of midrange,” Crampton said.
“It is similar to what rapeseed originally was, which had 10 percent inclusion rates for a number of livestock species, so there is a fair bit of excitement for this meal.”
Boeing, Airbus and Embraer signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) “to work together on the development of drop-in, affordable aviation biofuels,” the aircraft manufacturers announced Thursday.
The companies said in a joint statement that they have “agreed to seek collaborative opportunities to speak in unity to government, biofuel producers and other key stakeholders to support, promote and accelerate the availability of sustainable new jet fuel sources.”
Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Jim Albaugh, Airbus president and CEO Tom Enders and Embraer Commercial Aviation president Paulo Cesar Silva signed the MOU Thursday at an Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) meeting in Geneva. ATAG executive director Paul Steele (ATW Daily News, May 16, 2011) said, “Through these types of broad industry collaboration agreements, aviation is doing all it can to drive measurable reductions in carbon emissions.”
Albaugh stated, “There are times to compete and there are times to cooperate. Two of the biggest threats to our industry are the price of oil and the impact of commercial air travel on our environment.”
Damian Carrington, of the Guardian, discusses the potential benefits of the plant in East London that is to be built by 2015 by Solena, to turn London’s household waste into jet fuel. It will also produce some electricity. British Airways is pushing ahead with a plant that aims to turn half a million tonnes of Londoner’s household rubbish into 50,000 tonnes a year of jet fuel. Damian says: ” I’ll let you decide if this is greenwash or not: here’s some of the details.” BA’s Jonathan Counsel says “We accept we are a significant source of emissions, and growing,” he says. “Taking action is about earning our right to grow.” Boeing says the industry wants to get 1% biofuel into the global jet fuel supply by 2015, which equates to 600m US gallons a year. And more if it can. Why should this household waste go to aviation fuel, rather than energy for other uses? Tweet
British Airways, climate change and a load of rubbish
But British Airways is pushing ahead with a plant that aims to turn half a million tonnes of Londoner’s household rubbish into 50,000 tonnes a year of jet fuel. [That’s about 16 million gallons of green jet fuel each year.] I’ll let you decide if this is greenwash or not: here’s some of the details.
The plant will based in east London and 80 lorries a day will pour garbage into a plasma chamber, which reaches 5,000C. The resulting gas is turned into jet fuel, Jonathon Counsell, BA’s head of environment, told me at the World Biofuels Markets conference in Rotterdam. The plant, due to being pumping fuel from 2015, will have enough energy left over to generate 33MW of electricity, he says.
The output is just 2% of BA’s current global fuel needs but Counsell says: “The first plant is always the hardest. If we can make the economics works, we will build two, three, four, five, very quickly.” He says London produces 20m tonnes of waste a year, and the UK 200m tonnes.
I asked Counsell why this should reassure those concerned about aviation’s rapidly growing contribution to climate change, when BA and others seem to have to be dragged to act.
On biofuels, he says there are “no alternatives” to liquid fuels, if the industry is to meet its own goal of a 50% cut in emissions by 2050 (compared to 2005).
So why, I ask, is BA opposing the EU’s plan to make all airlines flying in and out of Europe buy some carbon pollution permits from 2013, especially when BA’s website states: “As part of our commitment to being environmental responsible [sic] we have been a long-standing supporter of emissions trading. This sits at the heart of our climate change policy as the most environmentally effective and economically efficient mechanism for addressing aviation’s CO2 emissions.”
Counsell told me: “We always said to the EU take a smaller step in the first instance, start with a smaller scheme, prove it and roll it out.” That can be translated, I would say, as “I wouldn’t start from here.” He added: “The risk of retaliation and non-compliance [from the US, Russia, China and elsewhere] is now playing out.” Which means “I told you so.”
What about where we actually are now, with the carbon trading scheme kicking in from 2013? Counsell says BA wants the EU to compromise and reduce the scope of the scheme, saying it currently risks collapsing totally and “setting us back 10 years.” That may make sense to you, or sound like “Lord make me chaste, but not yet.” But BA might be genuinely worried about a big setback, not least because non-compliance from other airlines might, at some point when the cost rises above a few Euros a flight, make a competitive difference.
Self-interest is often the best guide, and so that expressed very clearly to me by aircraft manufacturer Boeing was striking. They are backing biofuels with their own cash, despite not operating flights and therefore not being a purchaser of fuel.
“When we look out a few decades, the energy scenario for our industry does not look healthy,” Darrin Morgan, Boeing’s director of sustainable aviation, told me. “Fuel is now the number one cost for the industry, more than the aircraft, more than people. It used to be number three or four. That cost will diminish the ability of our customers to buy our aircraft.”
Morgan says the industry wants to get 1% biofuel into the global jet fuel supply by 2015, which equates to 600m US gallons a year. “That is not to say we only want 1%, we want as many percent as we can get sustainably.” He agues the bio-jet fuel industry only began in July 2011, when the international fuel standard body, ASTM international, approved it for use.
He agrees with Counsell that low-carbon biofuels are essential if the industry is to achieve the carbon-neutral growth goal it has set itself, as more efficient planes and air traffic cannot compensate for the fast growth: “That is unless developed world wants to tell the developing world you can’t fly – and good luck with that!”
So it’s biofuels or bust, according to the aviation industry. I’d be very interested in your thoughts.
(Comment from Damian Carrington, in response to the question
“Do you have any links to the biofuel industry/companies? A lot of your articles revolve around biofuels so was just wondering if you have any links to it or simply believe they are the best way forward.”
No none at al. I think sustainable biofuels will need be part of a sustainable future.)
There are lots of comments, with just a few of them copied below.
Wouldn’t it be better to turn the rubbish into electricity for everyone to use? It has got to be more efficient than turning the gas into a liquid fuel.
Whilst we continue to produce electricity by means that produce high carbon emissions any wasting of low emissions energy production on unecessary luxuries (for the large majority of journeys) such as flying is not part of a solution to the problems posed by anthropogenic climate change.
This is about the long term survival of an industry, though it is at least good to see them looking to the long term and acknowledging something of the reality we are likely to be facing.
“That is unless developed world wants to tell the developing world you can’t fly – and good luck with that!”
We should be showing the developing world that we don’t need to fly.
The plants are self-sustaining as part of the energy output is used to keep the plasma temperatures at 5000C. I believe they use around 20% of the output.
As for the trucks, [the energy used by the trucks bringing waste to the plant] they would be buring the same fuel over the same mileage covered if taking them to waste dumps.
I think biofuel is likely to be the only way the aviation industry can keep going. As long as we don’t forget that we cannot use the “waste” organic material from crops to create it, as this will need to be recycled back into soil fertility.
The same economic pressures that are forcing the airlines to adopt biofuels will force a reduction in use of oil-based fertilizers and pesticides. Which means adopting organic, permaculture style habits for soil care, which means no crop waste any more.
The idea of creating jet fuel from household waste intrigues me. Do you have any figures on if these generates more energy than it uses?
Finally what happens as we reduce the amount of household waste generated? Are we creating a link where reducing supermarket packaging leads to rising airfares?
on biofuels by Prof. Dr. Hartmut Michel of the Max-Planck-Institut for Biophysics? Some exerpts from the text:
“[O]nly 11.8 % of the energy of sunlight is stored in the form of NADPH. This value then also will be close to the upper limit for the efficiency of the photosynthetic production of biohydrogen.”
“4.5 % is considered as the upper limit of the photosynthetic efficiency of C3 plants. However, in reality, values of only around 1 % are observed, even for rapidly growing trees like poplars.”
I feel I must quote the section on Biofuels and the overall recommendations in full:
When the yields of biofuels per hectare are known, one can easily calculate how much of the energy of the sunlight is stored in the biofuels. For German “biodiesel” which is based on rapeseed, it is less than 0.1 %, for bioethanol less than 0.2 %, and for biogas around 0.3 %. However, these values even do not take into account that more than 50 % of the energy stored in the biofuel had to be invested in order to obtain the biomass (for producing fertilizers and pesticides, for ploughing the fields, for transport) and the chemical conversion into the respective biofuel. This energy normally is derived from fossil fuels. The production and use of biofuels therefore is not CO2-neutral. In particular, the energy input is very large for the production of bioethanol from wheat or maize, and some scientists doubt that there is a net gain of energy. Certainly the reduction of CO2 release is marginal. The yield of second-generation biofuels where entire plants are used may be doubled. However, the energy input probably also increases. For example, in the production of biodiesel by the Fischer–Tropsch process, hydrogen has to be added because syngas obtained from biomass contains insufficient amounts of hydrogen. Taken together, the production of biofuels constitutes an extremely inefficient land use. This statement is true also for the production of bioethanol from sugar cane in Brazil. ”
Because of the low photosynthetic efficiency and the competition of energy plants with food plants for agricultural land, we should not grow plants for biofuel production. The growth of such energy plants will undoubtedly lead to an increase in food prices, which will predominantly hit poorer people. The best use of the biomass lies in its conversion into valuable building blocks for chemical syntheses. Usage of the available biomass for heating purposes or for generating electricity in power stations, thus replacing fossil fuels, is preferable over biofuel production. The saved fuels can be used for transportation purposes. Clearing rainforests in the tropics and converting them into oil palm plantations is highly dangerous because the underlying layers of peat are oxidized and much more CO2 is released by the oxidation of organic soil material than can be fixed by the oil palms. The rainforests possess an important role for the climate and constitute a valuable resource for novel compounds for drug discovery. With respect to the carbon footprint, it would be even much better to reforest the land used to grow energy plants, because at a 1 % photosynthetic efficiency, growing trees would fix around 2.7 kg of CO2 per square meter, whereas biofuels produced with a net efficiency of 0.1 % would only replace fossil fuels which would release about 0.31 kg CO2 per m2 upon combustion!”
So the message here is clear, growing crops specifically for biofuel production is a complete waste. This needs to be stressed whenever talking about biofuels, lest people start associating all biofuels (reclaimed and crop-based) as something green.
Of course, reclamation of energy from refuse (as the plant mentioned in the article is designed to do) circumnavigates this huge inefficiency.
This is the story about the East London plant, from 2010:
British Airways and Washington, D.C.-based bioenergy firm the Solena Groupannounced on Monday a partnership to establish Europe’s first sustainable jet-fuel plant and convert trash into jet fuel.
The new fuel will be derived from waste biomass and manufactured in a new facility that can convert several types of waste materials destined for landfill into aviation fuel.The airline said it plans to use the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet beginning in 2014.The self-contained plant will likely be built in east London. It’s expected to convert 551,000 tons of waste into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel each year.
Quick hits about the savings:
The plant offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 percent compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene.
The project will reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill.
The plant itself will be CO2 neutral, and will emit oxygen, plus small quantities of nitrogen, argon, steam and carbon dioxide.
The only solid waste product is an inert vitrified slag material, which can be used as an alternative to aggregates used in construction.
Tail gas can be used to produce 20MW of excess electricity for export to the national grid or converted into steam to be used in a district heating system.
The green fuel will be produced by feeding waste into a patented high temperature gasifier that produces BioSynGas, or biomass-derived synthetic gas. Using a process known as Fischer Tropsch, the gas is converted into biofuels to produce biojet fuel and bionaphtha.
Bionaphtha is used as a blending component in gasoline, as well as a feedstock for the petrochemicals industry.
The resulting fuel would make all of British Airways’ flights at nearby London City Airport carbon-neutral, and is the equivalent of taking 48,000 cars off the road per year, BA says.
British Airways has signed a letter of intent to purchase all the fuel produced by the plant, which will be built by Solena.
“This unique partnership with Solena will pave the way for realising our ambitious goal of reducing net carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050,” said British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh in prepared remarks. ” We believe it will lead to the production of a real sustainable alternative to jet kerosene. We are absolutely determined to reduce our impact on climate change and are proud to lead the way on aviation’s environmental initiatives.”