Aviation alternative biofuel, passport to a sustainable future
The implementation of a sectoral policy for the development of sustainable alternative fuels (sometimes referrede to as ‘biofuels’), especially aviation biokerosene, should be a priority goal of the Brazilian government, in view of the current commitments regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the national and international levels, and such as the social, environmental and economic benefits resulting from the large-scale production of this type of fuel.
ABEAR (Brazilian Airlines Association) considers, as a premise of this strategy, to make the price of aviation biofuel economically feasible, so as not to have an impact on the price of tickets for the end user, besides allowing the input to be produced in a volume that can meet the companies’ operating needs over the next few years.
Brazil is fully qualified to be a global player in the aviation biofuel market. The country has extremely favorable conditions for the production of this type of fuel, with competitive differentials and potential for gain in scale, considering the size of the airline sector, the efficiency and sustainability of Brazilian agribusiness and the lack of competition with food production.
According to the Agência Nacional de Petróleo, Gás Natural e Biocombustíveis (ANP, Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels) statistics, the national installed capacity for the production of biofuels is close to 100 billion liters per year, with seven billion liters of biodiesel, more than 90 billion liters of ethanol and nothing of aviation biokerosene. However, there is evidence of technological routes for the production of aviation biokerosene in the country, with economic and financial viability, taking advantage of the experience already developed in this type of activity.
Currently, Brazil markets seven billion liters of aviation kerosene of fossil origin per year (Plano de Ação para Redução das Emissões de Gases de Efeito Estufa da Aviação Civil Brasileira – Secretaria de Aviação Civil/2015), of which 25% are imported. Based on the finding that the financial result of airlines presents a very small margin and that fuel costs mean on average 26% of the cost matrix of an air carrier, it is clear that there is no way to absorb new fuel price increases.
Support and funding for R&D
In order to support the research and development activities required for a sustainable production of aviation biofuel, it is necessary to seek financing sources such as the National Civil Aviation Fund and others linked to this objective.
As part of the efforts to make aviation biofuel viable, commercial aviation follows the development of Renovabio, a federal government program that seeks to expand biofuel production in the country. In this sense, the aviation sector proposes adjustments in said program to guarantee the airline industry’s current bases of cost and create instruments to foster the consolidation of aviation biofuel in all the national territory.
Since 2010, the 192 countries belonging to ICAO, the UN agency responsible for the safe and orderly development of the sector, have set golas for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the international civil aviation. These objectives, set for 2020 and 2050, should be achieved through the use of different mechanisms, including an emissions compensation scheme through the acquisition of carbon credits, called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation).
Emission compensation will have three stages of implementation: two voluntary ones (2021 to 2023 and 2024 to 2026) and a compulsory one between 2027 and 2035. In practice, such international policy will cause the fuel to be charged by the compulsory acquisition of carbon credits, which further enhances the importance and the opportunity to enable a structure for the production and distribution of sustainable aeronautical fuels in Brazil.
It is important to note that ICAO considers aviation emissions to be diffuse and global in nature, allowing reductions resulting from the use of aviation biofuel from renewable sources in domestic flights to be accounted for as part of the CORSIA targets.
In its studies, ICAO considers that CORSIA will remain active only until 2035, since any systematic carbon credits acquisition is a temporary solution. In addition, investigations indicate that only the intensive use of aviation fuel from renewable sources will ensure the continuity of industry emissions neutralization.
It is also necessary to take our internal challenges into account. They were defined in the intended Nationally Determined Contributions (iNDC), signed at the 21st Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention) held in December of 2015, in Paris.
These commitments are even more aggressive than those determined by ICAO and valid for the entire national productive sector, including the transport modality, since Brazilian iNDC determine emission reduction goals of 37% by 2025 and 43% by 2030, based on 2005 levels.
Thus, all these presented data indicate the need to attribute state policy status to biofuels in general, and to aviation biofuels in particular, due to the strong demands established and the wide benefits that its development will bring both in the domestic and international scenario.