Two new studies are due out soon on the failure of biofuels to cut carbon emissions. Studies find that taking the ILUC ( Indirect Land Use Change ) effects into account, biofuels – especially biodiesel – is often worse that fossil fuel, and if there are savings, they are small. The EU has assumed, for its road transport biofuel policies, that biofuels can help cut road transport carbon emissions by 60% by 2050. They cannot. One study says some biofuels are “so bad for the environment that its benefits cannot even be calculated.” The other that the savings are small and will not deliver the carbon savings sought.
The debate over whether biofuel does more environmental harm than good has reached boiling point in the European Commission – and two new studies are likely to raise the temperature further.
A report to be published later this month on the cost-effectiveness of policies to decarbonise transport concludes that without weeding out the biofuel that causes indirect land-use change (ILUC), the fuel source is so bad for the environment that its benefits cannot even be calculated.
“Most of the models predict a net increase of greenhouse gases when incorporating the ILUC effect for biodiesel,” says a draft of the report, written by a group of consultancies including CE Delft. “For these biofuels, determining the cost-effectiveness in terms of euros/tonne of carbon dioxide reduction makes no sense.”
The finding is embarrassing for the Commission, which in 2007 set a target of 10% of transport to be fuelled from renewable sources by 2020. Since then, evidence has mounted that some types of biofuel cause more emissions than they save because of the amount of land needed to grow them.
The Commission’s climate and energy departments are locked in a battle on the subject. The climate department wants biofuel to be given different weightings, so those types causing the most ILUC will count least towards meeting the 10% requirement in the renewable-energy directive. But the energy department, with support from the trade and agriculture departments, is resisting such a move.
A compromise was reached last year that would have put the ILUC issues in the fuel-quality directive, which obliges suppliers to reduce the greenhouse-gas intensity of their fuels by 6% by 2020. However, the deal fell apart in January. Because suppliers have to meet the targets of both the renewable-energy and fuel-quality directives, ILUC factors in either one would likely cause a collapse in business for those biofuel types thought to cause ILUC, such as biodiesel.
“In the last years, results from numerous studies present large discrepancies when addressing CO2 emissions of biofuels,” said Raffaello Garofalo, the secretary-general of the European Biodiesel Board.
“A legislative proposal based on inconclusive and disputable evidence could severally jeopardise the EU‘s ambitious targets to reduce its carbon footprint – and biodiesel is a large contributor to the member states’ national action plans to meet the 2020 targets,” he said.
Green groups are warning that the uncertainty over ILUC is causing policy confusion.
Another consultancy report to be published in the coming weeks concludes that if biofuel’s lifecycle emissions, rather than just direct emissions, from ILUC are taken into account in the Commission’s transport white paper, the EU would achieve little more than half of its goal of reducing transport emissions by 60% by 2050.
The Commission declined to comment on what direct emissions-savings from biofuel compared to fossil fuels were assumed in the transport white paper, but an official involved in the discussions said it was around 50%. By comparison, an impact assessment on ILUC by the energy department leaked last autumn concluded that biofuel delivers a 21% savings with no action to mitigate the effects of ILUC.
As the proposal to deal with ILUC sits stalled in the Commission, environmental campaign groups are stepping up the pressure. “Biofuel from fuel crops will not help deliver the emissions cuts that are needed,” said Nusa Urbancic of green group Transport & Environment. “Politicians need to address ILUC in a robust way, so that there is investment certainty over which biofuels genuinely deliver climate benefits.”
China is expected to use 12 million metric tonnes of aviation biofuels per year by 2020, which the China CAA says will account for 30% of the country’s total use of jet fuel (which is about 20 million metric tonnes per year now, rising up to 40 million by 2020), according to the deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. He says the EU ETS will prompt China to develop jet biofuels, which will be put into wide commercial use before 2020, when the country is expected to be using more than 40 million metric tonnes of jet fuel a year. China now wants to produce the biofuel more cheaply. The fuel is entirely, or largely, from jatropha. China hopes that biofuels emit less carbon. By 2020 the Civil Aviation Administration of China wants to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions of greenhouse gas by 22% below what they were in 2005 – per passenger kilometer (not in total). With rapidly growing passenger numbers, there will be a net increase (almost a doubling?) in carbon emissions by 2020. The fuel is entirely, or largely, from jatropha.
China to cultivate biofuel use
China is expected to use 12 million metric tonnes of aviation biofuels by 2020, accounting for 30% of the country’s total use of jet fuel, according to Li Jian, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
The market value of jet biofuels will exceed 120 billion yuan ($19 billion) by 2020, Li said on Tuesday. He said the new carbon-emissions tax the European Union is imposing on airlines will prompt China to develop jet biofuels, which will be put into wide commercial use before 2020, when the country is expected to be using more than 40 million metric tonnes of jet fuel a year.
Li said China now has the technology needed to produce jet biofuels and only needs to produce the substances more cheaply to sell them commercially.
China currently consumes about 20 million metric tonnes of jet fuel a year.
Jet biofuel, made from renewable resources, is considered to be cleaner for the environment, giving off less carbon during production than traditional jet fuels.
Statistics from UOP LLC, a subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc, suggest that the use of biofuels can help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by as much as 85% below the level released by burning fossil fuels.
Because of the aviation industry’s greater emission of greenhouse gases, by 2020 the Civil Aviation Administration of China wants to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions of greenhouse gas by 22% below what they were in 2005. [ This is per passenger kilometer (not in total). With rapidly growing passenger numbers, there will be a net increase in carbon emissions. With a doubling of Chinese aviation fuel burned expected between now and 2020].
China Petrochemical Corp, or Sinopec Group, which contributes 73% of the country’s output of jet fuel, announced on Tuesday that it had successfully produced jet biofuel at its chemical plant in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
The company, which began researching and developing aviation biofuels in 2009, has applied to the aviation administration to undergo an aircraft air-worthiness examination. The administration has not said when a decision on the application will be released.
Unless the aviation administration concludes that aviation biofuels are safe, they may not be used in commercial flights.
Sinopec’s rival, China National Petroleum Corp, the country’s biggest oil producer, delivered 15 tonnes of aviation oil last June to help Air China Ltd to test out flights powered by biofuel. The fuel had been extracted from the inedible plant jatropha, which is grown in Southwest China.
Air China made a demonstration flight in October 2011 using a fuel that was half made of petroleum-based fuel and half of an aviation biofuel produced from jatropha. The fuel, which was used in one engine of a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, was made by the China National Petroleum Corp and Honeywell’s UOP.
China National Petroleum Corp plans to build a refinery to produce 60,000 tonnes of the biofuel a year by 2014. [ That is a drop in the ocean compared to their target of 12 millionmetric tonnes per year].
Facing pressures to conserve energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the aviation administration is encouraging more companies to help develop aviation biofuels, Li said.
Comment from an AirportWatch member:
China is expected to use 12 million metric tonnes of aviation biofuels by 2020, accounting for 30 per cent of the country’s total use of jet fuel,
Yet in 2014 they expect to bring the first refinery on stream producing just 60,000 tonnes pa. The figures sound implausible.
Friends of the Earth International say the German airline Lufthansa has recently been using biokerosene made from jatropha, an inedible plant. The airline claims that flying on biokerosene is good for the environment despite numerous studies claiming the opposite. The jatropha used for Lufthansa’s test flights is grown in Indonesia by small scale farmers. The jatropha plants are often being grown at the cost of food production – jatropha competes with food crops such as maize for land – and the farmers are making a loss on the sale of the plants, so are struggling to survive. FoEI is asking people to write to Lufthansa and ask them to stop using biokerosene to fly their planes. KLM is continuing with part biofuelled flights, 4 per week, using some biofuel from used cooking oil, between Schiphol and Paris.
New Biofuel flights for KLM
AMSTELVEEN, February 21, 2012 — This week KLM started with the continuation of the total 200 biofuel flights from Schiphol Airport to Charles de Gaulle, Paris.
The purpose of this series of flights is to demonstrate that it is possible to mix sustainable biofuel on a serie of scheduled flights. Herewith, KLM wants to stimulate the developments in the field of sustainable air traffic. This is done in collaboration with the WWF. [Very regrettable that the WWF branch in the Netherlands has done this. Not all country branches of WWF agree] .
KLM believes that only a sustainable alternative to current fossil kerosene actually leads to reduction of CO2 emissions in the medium term. For this purpose, since late 2007 KLM is doing research for sustainably produced biofuels * and hopes that more parties will follow its example in order to decrease the price of biofuel.
The four daily flights are operated on fuel mixed with some biofuel. The biofuel is made from discarded frying oil and developed and delivered by SkyNRG, from which KLM is co-initiator. Already 7 years in a row AIR FRANCE KLM is sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
* A biofuel is considered sustainable when its cultivation is not at the expense of food production, or biodiversity and does not lead to deforestation, overuse of water and pesticides. In addition, there are also various social criteria.
KLM operates first scheduled flight on 50% biokerosene from used cooking oil in both engines
Date added: June 30, 2011 KLM has became the first airline to operate a commercial flight carrying 171 passengers on 50% biokerosene. A Boeing 737-800 flew from Schiphol to Paris. KLM says they would be operating more than 200 flights to Paris on biokerosene in September. The fuel was supplied by Dynamic Fuels via SkyNRG, the consortium co-founded by KLM in 2009. “KLM is open to using different raw materials …. as long as they meet a range of sustainability criteria”. Click here to view full story…
KLM to launch commercial flights in September Amsterdam – Paris on biofuel (? used cooking oil ?)
Date added: June 23, 2011 KLM says it will fly more than 200 flights between Amsterdam and Paris on biokerosene made from used cooking oil. It does not say what percent of the fuel the used oil will be. KLM then says it will use other fuels too, as long as they meet their sustainability criteria and include substantial CO2 reductions. In practice there is nowhere near enough used cooking oil available, most of which is already used as biodiesel for land vehicles, and other uses. Click here to view full story…
Friends of the Earth International
Call on Lufthansa to stop using biokerosene
Please write to Lufthansa and ask them to stop using biokerosene to fly their planes.
The German airline Lufthansa has recently been using biokerosene made from jatropha, an inedible plant. The airline claims that flying on biokerosene is good for the environment despite numerous studies claiming the opposite.
The jatropha used for Lufthansa’s test flights is grown in Indonesia by small scale farmers.
A recent visit by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) revealed that the plants are often being grown at the cost of food production – jatropha competes with food crops such as maize for land – and the farmers are making a loss on the sale of the plants. As a consequence they are struggling to survive.
Please write to Lufthansa and ask them to stop using biokerosene to fly their planes.
- Take action now! (You will be directed to the Milieudefensie website)
- Read the Milieudefensie report on Jatropha production in Indonesia
Availability and sustainability key challenges, says Lufthansa, as biofuel trials end with first commercial transatlantic flight
Date added: January 26, 2012
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 ? **] Click here to view full story…
New FoE report on jatropha cultivation for aviation biokerosene in Java
Date added: February 16, 2012
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. Click here to view full story…
Air China test-flies 50% jatropha biofuel-powered Boeing 747
Date added: October 30, 2011 An Air China Boeing 747-400 took off from the Beijing airport, flew for 2 hours, and landed back at Beijing. It used 50% jatropha. This is one of a series of research projects launched last year by the US and China, the world’s two biggest oil consumers. The fuel was developed by Boeing, Honeywell UOP, Chinese oil company PetroChina and Air China. They say a commercial biofuel should be available in three to five years. Click here to view full story…
Lufthansa will get its biofuel from Neste Oil, with palm oil likely to be sneaked into the mix
Date added: July 22, 2011 This is a very worrying article about biofuel Lufthansa will be getting from Neste Oil, which is well known for using large quantities of palm oil. It appears that though Lufthansa is saying all the suitable greenwash things about its flights at present, using only camelina, jatropha and animal fats, as Neste Oil deals largely with palm oil, it is likely that so called “sustainably sourced” palm oil will get into the mix, and Lufthansa is not bothered about that. Click here to view full story…
Lufthansa A321 partially powered (50%) by biofuel to enter service Friday
Date added: July 12, 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. Click here to view full story…
Friends of the Earth Europe report on aviation biofuels – Flying in the Face of the Facts
Date added: June 21, 2011 European airlines fuelling aeroplanes with biofuels is greenwashing, and flies in the face of recommendations from major international institutions, FoE Europe have said on the opening of the Paris air show. The European aviation industry, with support from the European Commission, is expected to announce plans to use 2 million tonnes of bio-kerosene per year by 2020. This is diverting political attention from the real need to cut air travel in order to reduce climate change. Click here to view full story…
This GreenAir article says Bloomberg analysts think that while aviation will not use oils from palm, rape or soya on any scale, the industry may be able to source biofuels from non-food crops that are commercially viable, within years. They reckon that while conventional jet kerosene costs about $0.86 per litre now, jet fuel could be produced at $0.86/litre by 2018 if production of jatropha and camelina was scaled up, with pyrolysis of woody feedstock producing jet fuel at $0.90/litre at around the same time. Liquid fuels made using the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert woody biomass is unlikely to produce jet fuel cheaper than $2.60/litre in 2018. Large-scale, biofuel-producing algae farms will not appear this decade. However, available volume is going to be limited and airlines will be in competition for it. Costs of biofuel are currently very much higher than paying for ETS carbon permits.
Some non-food vegetable oil-based aviation biofuels could be cost-competitive by the end of the decade, finds Bloomberg study
Wed 15 Feb 2012
If production efficiency continues to improve, the cost of some biofuels – such as those based on hydro-treated non-food vegetable oils from jatropha and camelina, or from pyrolysis of cellulosic feedstocks – could become competitive with the cost of fossil-based jet fuel by 2018.
This is the main finding of research carried out by Bloomberg New Energy Finance for its clients.
On the other hand, fuels produced from woody feedstock through gasification and the Fischer Tropsch (F-T) process are unlikely to be economical until well into the next decade. The researchers suggest that subsidies or mandates [government targets for biofuel use] will be required if governments wish to see a sizeable take-up of aviation biofuels before 2020 and airlines will have to compete with road transport for the limited availability of certified, low-cost supplies.
Established biofuels based on edible vegetable oils such as soybean, rapeseed and palm may never become fully cost competitive, suggests the research, although sustainability issues make it highly improbable airlines will use fuels from these sources in any case.
Although unlikely to be certified much before 2014, it adds, wood-conversion through the pyrolysis process may be more promising for producing cost-competitive jet biofuel before the end of this decade.
“The problem is that for the foreseeable future, even when the economics make sense, there will simply be limited availability of certified and relatively low-cost biofuel,” says Harry Boyle, Lead Bioenergy Analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“If governments want airlines to burn a significant proportion of non-fossil fuel before 2020, they will have either to subsidise advanced-but-not-yet-economic biofuels or, more likely, introduce mandates requiring carriers to use a certain percentage of sustainable biofuels in their mix, and put up with complaints that this is driving up ticket prices.”
Adds Boyle: “The US government has mandated that 18 billion gallons (68bn litres) of road transport fuel will have to come from next-generation, or cellulosic, biofuel by 2022. Western governments could do the same for next-generation aviation biofuels, starting any time from 2018, as a way of stimulating a potentially significant industry and reducing air transport emissions.”
For those airlines complaining about the cost of buying allowances to comply with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the report shows this will be relatively minor compared to the additional price airlines would have to pay to burn biofuels rather than conventional jet fuel in the next few years.
Compared to current jet fuel prices of around $0.85 per litre, aviation fuel from edible feedstock could potentially be supplied at $1.20/litre if producers moved to large-scale production, estimate the researchers.
A better result should be possible using jatropha, they say. If production were to scale up, jet fuel could be produced at $0.86/litre by 2018, with pyrolysis of woody feedstock producing jet fuel at $0.90/litre at around the same time.
Even with rapid efficiency improvements in the next few years, using F-T to process woody biomass is unlikely to produce jet fuel cheaper than $2.60/litre in 2018. The researchers predict large-scale, biofuel-producing algae farms will not appear this decade and so algae-based jet fuel is the pathway furthest from cost parity with conventional jet kerosene.
Despite the cost differential, the researchers have encouraging words for early adopters of aviation biofuels.
“The move by the European Union to bring all airlines into the EU ETS carbon trading scheme has focused the minds of airlines around the world on reducing their carbon emissions,” says Michael Liebreich, Chief Executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “While European carbon credits at the moment are so cheap they have negligible effects on ticket prices, biofuels will be competitive within a decade. However, available volume is going to be limited and airlines will be in competition for it, so those airlines which move now are likely to have an advantage later.”
Claire Curry of Bloomberg New Energy Finance will be presenting the findings at an aviation conference next month during the World Biofuels Markets in Rotterdam.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
- Spring 2012: EU scheduled to bring out proposals for ILUC and biofuels
- US Environment Protection Agency Notice of data concerning renewable fuels produced from palm oil
- European Commission Biofuels and other renewable energy in the transport sector
Think tanks & Academia
- International Food Policy Research Institute Report: Assessing the land use change consequences of European biofuel policies
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 http://www.iisd.org/gsi/biofuel-subsidies/biofuels-what-cost
The above reference, Global Subsidies Initiative, says:
Biofuel Subsidies in the European Union
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more aviation biofuel news stories, see
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 (www.masdar.ac.ae) 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 (www.safug.org).
full article at http://www.masdar.ac.ae/inc/7/details.php?type=news&id=45
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. [http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/economics/fuel_monitor/Pages/index.aspx 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.
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.
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.
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.
…. 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:
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.
Lufthansa A321 partially powered (50%) by biofuel to enter service Friday
Germany joins up with Lufthansa to sponsor biofuel 6 times worse than fossil fuels
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
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://www.airportwatch.org.uk/news/detail.php?art_id=1638
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.
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.
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