Boeing, Airbus, Embraer sign MOU to cooperate on biofuels

Boeing, Airbus, Embraer sign MOU to cooperate on biofuels

By Aaron Karp

March 22, 2012  (ATW)

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.”

http://atwonline.com/eco-aviation/news/boeing-airbus-embraer-sign-mou-cooperate-biofuels-0322?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AtwDailyNews+%28ATW+Daily+News%29

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Is the Solena / British Airways plan for jetfuel from London domestic waste greenwash?

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?

 

British Airways, climate change and a load of rubbish

by Damian Carrington

16 March 2012   (Guardian)

The aviation industry has often appeared to be in denial on the subject of climate change, lobbying relentlessly in the UK for a third runway at Heathrow and attacking the European Union’s gentle curbing of their emissions.

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.)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/mar/16/aviation-biofuel-british-airways-carbon


 

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?

 

—-

Have you read this editorial

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201200218/full 

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:

 BioFuels:
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. ”
Reccommendations:
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:

 

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British Airways partner with Solena to convert trash into jet fuel

By 

February 16, 2010

British Airways and Washington, D.C.-based bioenergy firm the Solena Group announced 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.”

http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/british-airways-partner-with-solena-to-convert-trash-into-jet-fuel/4282

 

 

 

 

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Naked trio fined for Birmingham Airport protest against biofuel

Back in October 2011, three protesters stripped off at Birmingham Airport, to draw attention to the “bare faced” publicity stunt by Thomson Airways, in putting on a few flights with one engine using 50% biofuel from used cooking oil, brought 5,000 miles from a refinery in Louisiana. They have now been fined £150 each, and ordered to pay costs of £80 and a victim surcharge of £15. Thompson said they know the available volumes of used cooking oil are limited and that it can never replace total fossil kerosene consumption, and neither can vegetable oils.



 

14.3.2012  (Birmingham Post)

Birmingham airport

THREE environmental campaigners have been fined for stripping off at Birmingham Airport.

The protesters wore nothing but red body paint when Thomson Airways promoted the UK’s first commercial flight fuelled by recycled vegetable oil last October.

Appearing at Solihull Magistrates Court this week, the members of anti-aviation group Plane Stupid pleaded guilty to contravening an airport bylaw.

Rosa Van Kesteren, 25, Paul Wilkinson, 28, and Liz Snook, 34, all of Chelsea Road, Bristol, were each fined £150 and ordered to pay costs of £80 and a victim surcharge of £15.

After the case they labelled Thomson’s claim that biofuels were green as “bare faced cheek”.

Liz Snook said: “Recycling veg oil is a great thing to do, but we don’t eat enough chips to cover even one per cent of land based vehicle needs, let alone flying.

“Biofuels in aviation are often grown on land stolen from some of the world’s poorest people.”

Thomson is among a growing number of airlines to trial biofuels, made from living things such as plants and their by-products.

Most come from agricultural crops, leading to criticism that growing and transporting them can create a bigger environmental footprint than using fossil fuels.

But scientists are now working on “second generation” biofuels, using food waste, sewage and algae.

One of the two engines on the October Thomson flight was powered with a 50/50 mix of conventional jet fuel and recycled vegetable oil, brought 5,000 miles from a refinery in Louisiana.

Thomson later ditched plans for a six-week trial of daily biofuel flights, saying one of their project partners was unable to continue, but it hopes to revisit the idea in the future.

Deirdre Kotze, Thomson Airways airline environmental manager, said: “We know the available volumes are limited and that it can never replace total fossil kerosene consumption, and neither can vegetable oils.

“We see current options as a first step in the right direction and we are exploring and supporting future alternatives.”
http://www.birminghammail.net/news/birmingham-news/2012/03/14/naked-trio-fined-for-birmingham-airport-protest-97319-30526840/


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

7.10.2011    In response to the Thomson biofuel flight, using 50% used cooking oil in one engine, three Plane Stupid activists staged a naked protest – showing that biofuels are not green, and the Thomson PR exercise is bare faced cheek. Thomson intends, after a 6 week gap, to have many more biofuel flights in 2012. They hope to use used cooking oil, but the airline may have to use other fuels, as it is not likely to get enough of the oil – which is already much in demand.  http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=4613

 

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

Date added: September 30, 2011

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

 

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

Date added: October 6, 2011

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

 

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Chilean flight from Santiago to Concepcion using partly used cooking oil fuel

A Chilean airline has operated a biofuel flight between Santiago and Concepcion, using an Airbus A320, using used cooking oil. There is the usual hype about biofuel flights, and statements about biofuels being a green future, hugely cutting carbon emissions etc etc.  They say they “want to be pioneers in the use of renewable fuels in South America.” It is unclear if other flights are planned, or if they intend in future to use other “second generation” biofuels like  jatropha, camelina and halophytes, or organic waste such as vegetable oils, or derived from algae.



 

LAN Chile, Air BP Copec operate first South American biofuels flight

March 8, 2012 (Biofuels Digest)

In Chile, Netherlands-based SkyNRG has supplied LAN Chile [ an airline, http://www.lan.com ] and Air BP Copec for its first commercial flight with second generation jet fuel. The flight, which operated between the Chilean cities of Santiago and Concepcion, was conducted on an Airbus from the A320 family with CFM56-5B motors.  The fuel came from used cooking oil.

The flight ended with an event held in the city of Concepcion, which was attended by Government and local authorities, and also by LAN and Air BP Copec executives.

Executive Vice President of LAN, Enrique Cueto said: “This flight represents a key step towards the future of the industry. At LAN we aim to develop sustainable biofuels for commercial aircraft with a high production potential in South America. Currently, these renewable energy sources play a significant role in global aviation and will affect, increasingly, decision-making in the industry and our company. We want to be pioneers in the use of renewable fuels in South America. ”

In turn, Lorenzo Gazmuri, general manager of Air BP Copec, emphasized the importance that this landmark has for the regional aviation and energy industries: ”This is the result of intense work for over a year, a materialization of the ongoing commitment of Copec to developing and promoting new and innovative energy solutions. We hope that in Chile and the region, the desire to promote this alternative will continue to increase and place it competitively in the market of aviation fuels in order to meet the requirements of an increasingly more demanding society in terms of sustainability.”

What are they and what is the technical reliability of biofuels?

The biofuels used in these flights can be obtained from plants such as algae, jatropha, camelina and halophytes, or organic waste such as vegetable oils, which can be processed, burned directly or converted by chemical processes to make high quality fuel.

These are known as second generation biofuels. They come primarily from sustainable raw materials, which in production do not compete with food sources or basic resources (limited resources), which is key in the care of our planet.

For aviation, biofuel meets the strict technical standards required to fly, and has the same characteristics as the regular fuel used on flights. In addition, this source has already been tested successfully by other airlines in the world, showing the same reliability as aviation kerosene on both test and commercial flights.

Using second generation biofuel in flight significantly decreases emissions of greenhouse gases, as no additional C02 is emitted into the atmosphere.  [Just a bit of greenwash, and inaccurate].

The environmental manager of LAN, Enrique Guzman, said the environmental contribution would bring the use of renewable energy in aviation, would be significant: “Traditional aviation fuel comes from oil and when used on the plane releases C02. In the case of using biofuel, the CO2 released is almost the same amount that was captured by the crop during its growth, meaning that no additional CO2 is released into the atmosphere”, explained Guzman.

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Pressure mounts over side-effects of biofuel

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.

 


By Dave Keating  (European Voice.com)
4.03.2012
Two reports suggest biofuel could do more harm than good.

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.

First report:

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.

Projections

Green groups are warning that the uncertainty over ILUC is causing policy confusion.

Second report:

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.”

http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/pressure-mounts-over-side-effects-of-biofuel/73720.aspx

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Chinese plans to double aviation fuel use by 2020 and have 30% of it biofuel

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

 
29.2.2012 (China.org)
 
 

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.

http://www.eco-business.com/news/china-to-cultivate-biofuel-use/  

 

 

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.

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200 more biofuel flights by KLM using cooking oil – while Lufthansa using Indonesian jatropha

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.

http://newswire.enviro.aero/newswire/2012/feb/21/new-biofuel-flights-for-klm


earlier

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.

indonesian farmer jatropha 2

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.

http://www.foei.org/en/get-involved/take-action/call-on-lufthansa-to-stop-using-biokerosene

 


 

see also

 

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…

 

 

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Some non-food vegetable oil-based aviation biofuels could be cost-competitive by 2020

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

(GreenAir online)

Wed 15 Feb 2012

Some non-food vegetable oil-based aviation biofuels could be cost-competitive by the end of the decade, finds Bloomberg study | Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Aviation biofuels from non-food vegetable oils like jatropha could                                                                   become cost competitive with conventional jet fuel by 2018

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.

 

Links:

Bloomberg New Energy Finance

World Biofuels Markets – Aviation Conference

 

http://www.greenaironline.com/news.php?viewStory=1423

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Airbus urges EU to scrap biodiesel incentives for road transport

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

 

16 February 2012  (Euractiv)

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

Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They have done so before.

Leaked minutes

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

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

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

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

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

Biokerosene more expensive than biodiesel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biofuels targets

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

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

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

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

Next Steps

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

Links

Governments

European Union

Think tanks & Academia

http://www.euractiv.com/energy/airbus-urges-eu-scrap-biodiesel-incentives-road-transport-news-510888

 


 

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

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

 

1.2

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

30 OCTOBER 2007

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

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

Biofuel Subsidies in the European Union: 2010 Update

14 JULY 2010

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

Biofuel Subsidies in Germany

9 FEBRUARY 2012

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.

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New FoE report on jatropha cultivation for aviation biokerosene in Java

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

 



 

16.2.2012

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

“Biokerosene: Take-off in the wrong direction”

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

Report at:

http://milieudefensie.nl/publicaties/rapporten/biokerosene-take-off-in-the-wrong-direction

Foreword

by Berry Nahdian Forqan, Executive Director of Walhi:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conclusion and Recommendations:

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

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

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

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

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

•  The effects of jatropha are particularly affecting women

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

Corporate Responsibility

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

Friends of the Earth is urging airlines to:

•  be completely transparent about the origin of their products.

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

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

 

Governments responsibility

Europe

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.

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