It seems like there's a lot of buzz around non-food biofuels in aviation these days. Only yesterday we reported on a company promoting algae biofuels technology to KLM airlines and major cruiseships, although it has to be said that some of our commenters were a little sceptical. Now we hear that Air New Zealand, whose previous efforts on biofuels for aviation have already caught our attention, has set a goal of using one million barrels of "environmentally sustainable" fuel annually by 2013. The airline's next step is to run a test flight using fuel from jatropha oil in the latter half of this year (see also our previous post on jatropha for biofuels). According to the company's press release, the fuel to be used is being vetted under strict sustainability criteria:
"Air New Zealand's criteria for sourcing the jatropha oil was the land was neither forest land nor virgin grassland within the previous two decades. The quality of the soil and climate is such that the land is not suitable for the vast majority of food crops. Furthermore, the plantations are rain-fed and not mechanically irrigated."
Apparently the company is also working with researchers to develop algae as a feedstock for future tests, and has previously made waves by working with Airways New Zealand to land jumbos in idle as a means to save fuel.
Airlines in Trouble Over Oil Prices
As we mentioned in our post on the return of turboprop aircraft, airlines have been hit incredibly hard by rising fuel costs and, in places where competition exists, by travellers switching to high speed rail. Some further reading is included below:
More on TreeHugger about Aviation and Biofuels
Virgin Experimenting with Biofuel for Jets
Biodiesel for Aircraft Q&A;
Air New Zealand Biofuelling Through the High Skies
More on Jatropha for Biofuels
Jatropha for Biodiesel in Brazil
Investment Group Plants 5000 Acres of Jatropha in Mexico
More on Airlines and High Oil Prices
Landing Jumbos in Idle to Save Fuel
British Airway's Profits Squeezed by Eurostar and High Oil Prices
Are Eco-Loonies Damaging Ryanair's Sales After All?
Airlines Cut Flights and Planes to Save Fuel
Airlines Save Gas By Slowing Down, Just Like Drivers
More about Turboprop Aircraft
Efficient Modern Turboprop Aircraft Are Making a Comeback
Perhaps Flying Turboprop Isn't Dying
Turboprops Get Ecolabel
More on Alternatives to Flying
Seat 61: Get There Without Flying
Eurostar to Cut Emissions 25% and Offset the Rest
Spain's New High-Speed Rail Challenging the Airlines
High-Speed Rail Comes to the Americas
CA High-Speed Rail Initiative: "If We Don't Pass This, We Will Never Have High-Speed Trains in the US"
::Air New Zealand::via press release::