EU Sees ‘Strategic Advantage’ of Biofuels in Aviation
by Hannah Black and Sarantis Michalopoulos (EurActiv) In sectors like aviation where decarbonisation options are limited, there is a strategic advantage in encouraging the use of biofuels, a European Commission official has said.
The aviation sector is dependent on liquid fuels and has few options other than biofuels when it comes to using renewable energies.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has set a target of ramping up biofuels use to 10% of all consumption by 2017, saying they have the potential to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint by up to 80%.
The big issue now for the industry is whether they can be deployed on a sufficiently large scale to make a difference to the airline sector’s carbon emissions – without wrecking the environment.
“By far the biggest problem is the price gap—biofuels are two or three times as expensive as fossil fuels —and this needs to be compensated somehow,” said Henrik Erämetsä, head of aviation regulation at Finnish oil company Neste, who was speaking at a EURACTIV event last week.
“We know that in the on-road sector it has been compensated by mandating the use of biofuels, so basically it’s part of the fuel price,” he explained, suggesting a similar measure could be taken for aviation.
“But aviation is a global, international sector, where a mandate within the European Union, for instance, would distort the global business. So we need to find some other kind of solution,” Erämetsä pointed out.
Darrin Morgan, director of sustainable biofuel strategy at Boeing, said biofuels were thought to be the green solution about a decade ago but then became the “worst thing in the world” that would destroy the planet.
“And of course neither of those things was true. And the answer is, well, it depends completely on how you do it and the scale and the technology and the sustainability,” Morgan said.
Despite the political backlash against biofuels, Boeing has persevered in trying to find sustainable alternatives, Morgan said. It is currently negotiating an agreement with China over the air pollution produced by the burning of crop residue.
“The government in China has figured out that they need to do something with a lot of these crop residues besides burning. What they want to do is, among other things, sustainable fuels,” he stated.
“While I know in Brussels biofuels are not sexy anymore, biofuels and the backlash against them… For those of you in Brussels, get out there and see what’s happening in the world,” Morgan said. READ MORE