The mad dash for an aviation biofuel won’t significantly reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions once all the climate impacts of biofuel production are taken into account, according to a recent report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).
Apart from the high cost of biofuels, the two deciding factors are the carbon intensity of the land use changes that would be needed to scale up production, and the limited supply of agricultural waste to meet demand, CleanTechnica reports.
“Estimates for maximum availability of sustainable AJF [alternative jet fuel] feedstocks reveal that it would be impossible to substitute total jet fuel consumption with AJF up to 2050 or attain carbon-neutral growth through AJF only,” ICCT reported.
“Although estimated demand for jet fuel amounts to 24–37 exojoules in 2050, the absolute maximum amount of lignocellulosic biofuel that could be available for the aviation sector is around 4 EJ in 2050, resulting in emission reductions up to around 360 million tonnes CO2. The actual amount of low carbon AJF that will be available is likely much lower.”
Moreover, ICCT’s literature review indicated that biofuels won’t be cost-competitive with standard aviation kerosene, and “the airlines’ price sensitivity relative to the road sector presents a possible disparity in terms of the aviation industry’s ability to support production costs as high as competing sectors.”