The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced today the approval of a regional cooperarion to help public and private institutions develop a sustainable biojet fuels industry employing different kinds of local organic feedstock.
This initiative will fund consultancy services, knowledge development, dissemination material and workshops on the sustainable use and production of biojet fuels, with the goal of demonstrating their feasibility for the local aviation sector, and for potential exports.
The IDB is partnering with the aviation industry stakeholders that are leading the development of alternative aviation fuels, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, and the World Economic Forum, individual airlines, aircraft manufacturers and biofuel technology providers. These institutions and companies are working together on regulations and targets for carbon emissions reductions with the goal of displacing as much as 50 percent of jet fuel worldwide by alternative sources by 2050.
One way for airlines tomeet carbon emissions targets is by purchasing carbon credits; another is to develop alternative fuels that would help meet the carbon emissions reduction requirements, while helping the industry to be more competitive by reducing fuel price volatility. Options for alternative fuels in this sector are currently limited because of the technical requirements of jet fuels. The IDB project will make it possible to explore and develop technologies that will produce feasible substitutes to traditional fuels in the aviation sector.
This would enable Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to play a lead role in the supply of a competitive value-added product (as it already does with ethanol and biodiesel), while contributing to local economic development and generating quality jobs. We expect the production cost to be lower in LAC than on other regions, specially the major jetfuel consumer ones.
The first expected activity supported by this initiative is the application of sustainability criteria and standards and the evaluation of Greenhouse Gases Life Cycle performance to renewable biojet fuels derived from one or more feedstocks (sugarcane, jatropha, african palm, among others to be defined), with benchmarking of two major sustainability standards: the Better Sugarcane Initiative (BSI) and the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), and a comparison with the IDB biofuels sustainability scorecard.
“This new biofuel market niche has excellent prospects due to its strong association with climate change issues, and the great stakeholder motivation and support to biojet fuel,” said Arnaldo Vieira de Carvalho, leader of the IDB team for the initiative.
Laura Natalia Rojas, co-leader of the IDB project team, said the biofuels aviation market is expected to encounter fewer technical and market obstacles due to the “drop-in” fuel approach being adopted by the aviation industry, which does not require adaptation of engines or of storage/distribution infrastructure. This should make it easier to introduce biojet fuels, she added.
Airlines based in LAC have held several biojet fuel demonstration test flights in the last two years with fuels derived from feedstocks, such as jatropha, and several more tests are planned for 2012. The IDB will employ grant resources from its Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Fund (SECCI-SCI) to finance activities under this initiative. Countries that have already initiated the development of sustainable biojet fuels in the region, including Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, will be among the first to benefit from the grants.