Wed 15 Jul 2015 – Boeing and a consortium of Japanese aviation and other industry organisations, together with academic and government bodies, have published a roadmap report that aims for commercial production of sustainable aviation biofuels in Japan in time for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. The report identifies potential raw material and technology routes that could provide sufficient quantities of alternative fuel supplies within the next five years. The roadmap is the result of a year-long study and collaboration by 46 members of the Initiatives for Next Generation Aviation Fuels (INAF) – which includes All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines, Nippon Cargo Airlines and the University of Tokyo, as well as Boeing – that was set up in May 2014. The report accepts the current price differential with conventional jet fuel is a major barrier to commercialisation and says policy incentives are a prerequisite to success in aviation biofuel use.
The roadmap assesses the entire biofuel supply chain, including procurement of raw materials, production of sustainable aviation fuel, blending biofuel with conventional jet fuel and how biofuel can be incorporated into an airport’s fuelling structure.
The development of the supply chain is based around six raw materials identified in the roadmap: municipal solid waste, microalgae, natural plant oils, waste food oil, non-edible biomass and woody biomass. Because they are already part of the fuel supply chain in Japan, municipal waste, natural oils and waste food oil are considered paths where the production of next-generation aviation fuels can be expected to commence early.
The report does not go into detail about costs of production or financing and instead calls for the formulation of a business plan over the coming year, to be followed by the design and construction of a plant between 2016 and 2018, trial operation in 2019 and commencement of supplies in 2020.
As it is unavoidable that the price of alternative aviation fuel will significantly exceed that of conventional jet fuel, the report recommends the differential be met by businesses that comprise the supply chain, such as fuel producers and airlines, users of air services and the public “which enjoys the benefits of greenhouse gas countermeasures and energy security”.
Costs, it says, could be lowered through improvements at each stage of the supply chain, system optimisation, technological innovation, user fees, area charges and public support. Fiscal support should also be provided to help capital investment and consideration given for a reduction in aircraft fuel taxes when using next-generation biofuels. Overseas partnerships will also be essential in developing and producing such fuels in Japan, it adds.
“Commencing the production and supply of next-generation aviation fuels in Japan is a golden opportunity for the nation … and it is desirable that the promotion of this business be accelerated now,” concludes the report.
Commenting on the release of the roadmap report, Shinji Suzuki, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Tokyo, said: “Developing and using sustainable aviation biofuel is an excellent way for Japan to show its commitment to the environment and technologies that can reduce aviation’s environmental impact.”
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