Factors affecting the emergence, development and uptake of aviation biofuels
thesisposted on 03.02.2014, 11:02 by Per K. Gegg
Aviation biofuel is technically viable and nearing the commercial stage. In the last 5 years aviation biofuel has moved from relative obscurity to become fully certified for commercial use in up to 50% blends with standard jet fuel. There have since been 15 successful commercial flight tests using aviation biofuels including Lufthansa s six month trial operating on a passenger revenue generating route in 2011. Airlines and biofuel companies such as British Airways and Solena are furthermore beginning to form partnerships to finance specialised aviation biofuel production facilities. However, aviation biofuels have yet to become widely commercialised. In fact, there are a series of issues preventing the emergence, development and uptake of aviation biofuels. The main issues are perceived as high costs of manufacture, limited availability of feedstocks, controversy surrounding the effect on food prices and the emissions output from land use change. Furthermore, there is a significant lack of academic peer reviewed literature which investigates these issues or offers solutions to support the development of the technology. This thesis aims to investigate the factors that affect the emergence, development and uptake of aviation biofuels by drawing upon in-depth stakeholder interviews and survey data. Strategic niche management (SNM) theory is used and extended to analyse the contemporary issues and develop recommendations to support the continued emergence, development and uptake of aviation biofuels. It is concluded that the emergence, development and uptake is being driven mainly by rising jet fuel prices, growing concern regarding aviation emissions legislation and fuel (in)security. Airlines, biofuel producers and specialised supply chain companies are driving emergence, development and uptake due to commercial opportunities. Despite these drivers, the emergence, development and uptake is being constrained by a combination of ineffective policy provision, high costs of production, limited feedstocks and uncertainty surrounding sustainability. Ineffective and unsuitable policy is exacerbating the issues of high production costs, limited feedstocks and sustainability. In particular, competition between aviation and road biofuels is limiting aviation biofuel expansion. Recommendations are to develop nurtured niche markets for aviation biofuels using principles from SNM. Within these markets, aviation biofuels are afforded commercial viability in order to learn about supply chain development, longer term infrastructural requirements and technological development. Information should be shared between the niche markets in order to maximise learning by doing and speed up efficiency gains. Once niche markets are established, the incentives and protection should be gradually reduced to allow a competitive aviation biofuel industry to develop.
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