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Biofuels should replace aviation jet fuel says think tank

UK think tank Policy Exchange recommends wide scale deployment of sustainable biofuel for use in the aviation industry to meet UK’s 2050 emissions cut.

The report, Green Skies Thinking, recommends setting achievable and enforceable targets for replacing standard kerosene jet fuel with biofuel from 2020, through the implementation of an EU-wide Sustainable Bio-jet Fuel Blending Mandate.

This Mandate on the proportion of jet fuel derived from, or blended with, sustainable biofuel would rise from 20% in 2020 to 80% in 2050.

Author of the report and Head of Policy Exchange’s Energy & Environment Unit, Ben Caldecott said: “We do need to look at reducing demand for flights, but switching from standard jet fuel to sustainable bio-jet fuel is currently the only viable option to significantly reduce emissions from the flights that remain. Biofuels in aviation can also be delivered in sufficient quantities to meet global demand – unlike biofuels for road transport.”

The report recommends:

  • The introduction of an EU Sustainable Bio-jet Fuel Blending Mandate from 2020 to create demand for sustainable jet biofuels;
  • The cost of deploying sustainable jet biofuel should be minimised. These proposals could mean jet biofuel production costs fall to around US$80 per barrel by 2030, with production costs falling further to around US$70 per barrel of biofuel by 2050. The average jet fuel prices from 2000 to 2008 was US$62.29 per barrel, and in the July 2008 peak, jet fuel prices peaked at US$167.70 per barrel;
  • The UK should increase support for companies conducting R&D into the production of sustainable jet biofuel. The UK Government’s current R&D tax credit regime should be extended for companies which conduct research into sustainable jet biofuel in the UK. Policy Exchange proposes that these companies be allowed to claim an additional 40% of eligible R&D spend against their taxable profits;
  • Finally, Policy Exchange recommends that the UK should invest in the methodologies and regulatory bodies needed to ensure that jet biofuels are produced sustainably and deliver “dramatic life-cycle GHG emission reductions”.

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