The commercial aviation industry has a clear path toward cleaner, more economical and more secure energy alternatives through the increased use of advanced biofuels developed in the Midwest, according to a report issued today by the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI).
MASBI produced the report following a yearlong analysis of the benefits that could be delivered from a robust sustainable aviation biofuels industry in the Midwest. MASBI is a coalition led by United Airlines, Boeing, Honeywell’s UOP, the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Clean Energy Trust, along with an Advisory Council of more than 40 public and private organizations, chaired by Argonne National Laboratory. MASBI strategy and program management support was provided by Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting with recognized expertise in energy and aviation. In addition to endorsing the report’s recommendations, several individual MASBI members made new commitments to help secure a robust future for biofuels.
Noting the progress made in developing biofuels, including its use on more than 1,500 commercial aviation flights globally, the coalition agreed that more must be done to achieve the sustainable production of commercial-scale and cost-competitive advanced biofuels from sources such as non-food crops and waste products.
MASBI issued its report at a summit of aviation and energy experts, biofuel developers, environmental organizations, government officials and research institutions. The recommendations include:
- Streamline the approval process for new biofuel production methods;
- Level the policy playing field for advanced biofuels with the conventional petroleum industry;
- Tailor agriculture products such as oil-seed crops for jet-fuel production;
- Improve biofuel production through agricultural innovation; and
- Pursue deal structures that balance risk and reward for early adopters of technology.
“We’ve been developing a new industry – one that has the ability to reduce carbon emissions, create green jobs, drive innovation in clean technology and bolster the successful future of the airline industry which is vital to communities all around the world,” said Jimmy Samartzis, managing director of global environmental affairs and sustainability for United Airlines. “We need to focus on this today, so that we can have these options tomorrow as we build a more sustainable future.”
Expanding the availability of sustainable aviation biofuels will have clear business benefits for the airline industry and the broader Midwest economy. From 1990 to 2012, fuel costs increased by 574 percent and are now the single largest expense for commercial aviation, accounting for up to 40 percent of an airline’s operating budget.
Commercial aviation spends $6.3 billion on jet fuel a year for flights originating in the Midwest. MASBI estimates that replacing five percent of petroleum jet fuel in the Midwest with aviation biofuel would create more than 3,600 jobs and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 700,000 tons.
“The Midwest can be a leader in this effort because it boasts the experience, technological innovation, and resources to do so,” says Samartzis. “The impact of MASBI goes well beyond the Midwest and influences the development of the advanced biofuels industry nationally and globally.”
Visit www.masbi.org to download the full report and executive summary. Additional public statements from several MASBI members can be found on the final page of this document.
In addition to supporting the recommendations in today’s report, several MASBI stakeholders announced commitments in support of aviation biofuel development:
The Chicago Department of Aviation and United Airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding to initiate a cooperative effort towards identifying opportunities to develop advanced alternative fuels for aviation use with a particular focus on converting waste streams in the Chicago area into lower-carbon aviation fuel.
Honeywell’s UOP, United Airlines and Boeing will provide funding for Purdue University to research ways to convert corn stover – leaves and stalks left in fields after the corn harvest – into jet fuel. The companies’ funding supports existing research and development funding from the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Iowa Corn Growers Association.
United Airlines will issue a Request for Proposal for the development and purchase of cost-competitive, sustainable, renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel to supply one of United’s hub locations. Using guidelines and technical requirements presented by MASBI Advisory Council member Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), the intent is to emphasize market demand, spur innovative approaches to partnership across the value chain, and obtain delivery of renewable fuel to be used in daily operations.
The Clean Energy Trust (CET) will mobilize its existing innovation and advocacy platform to prioritize advanced biofuels in its funding strategies and local and federal policy work. Over the next six to eight months, CET will advocate for supportive policies which will build upon the MASBI recommendations.
With the support of Boeing, United Airlines, and Honeywell’s UOP, the Clean Energy Trust’s Clean Energy Challenge will fund and develop a prize directed towards advanced biofuels projects in the Midwest. The Clean Energy Challenge has been a catalyst in jump-starting innovation within the Midwest by allowing clean energy entrepreneurs at varying stages of development to compete for funding and to receive other resources for growth, improving their chances of success.
Source: Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative, press release, 2013-06-27.