Green News: Airlines Weighing Costs of Regulations and Biofuels
Coupled with skyrocketing fuel charges, the levies on carbon-spouting planes to be imposed under the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) have airlines worrying about the cost of not going green. All airlines operating in the EU will be expected to cut emissions to three percent below the average annual figure for the period between 2004 and 2006 from 2012, and by an additional two percentage points in 2013.
Further emissions will require trading in additional permits, and this bit of green news has prompted airlines like Lufthansa, Ryanair and Easyjet to begin talks with Solena, an American producer of aviation biofuels. Earlier this year it was reported that Australian airline Quantas is working to build a commercial-scale aviation biofuel plant on the outskirts of Sydney with the same company. Solena is currently hard at work building a similar plant in London. The plant is slated to produce around 16m gallons of biofuel a year from 2014.
So why has Solena been at the forefront of green news lately? The company has avoided some of the problems that have plagues production of crop-based varieties by making biofuels from waste. Aviation biofuels will need to meet a laundry list of technical and commercial specifications: they must fit a lot of energy into a small volume, remain liquid at -50°, come in chemically identical form all over the globe and mix well with (and improve or at least match) the efficiency of those fuels.
Aviation biofuel technology isn’t cheap, but the industry is beginning to view biofuels as a way to get around tighter environmental regulation, bad PR and rising fuel costs.