Thursday, 12 January 2012
The future of biofuels
Full article in JPG format: page 44/45 & page 46/47 & bio
Talk to an airline executive anywhere in the world today, and you're virtually guaranteed to hear the same fundamental complaint. With Brent Crude prices hovering around $110 per barrel – up 350% in the space of two years – it's now all but impossible to make money from the business of flying people around.
Of course airlines have several tricks up their sleeves. Hedging fuel contracts is one strategy, albeit a risky one if you misjudge the market. Cutting operational costs and hiking airfares are two others. Perhaps the most pragmatic approach is to fork out a few billion dollars for some next-generation, fuel-efficient jets. In the current financial climate, though, few have that option.
The inconvenient reality is that aviation is well and truly addicted to oil. In order to get a 650-tonne Airbus A380 off the ground, the high energy density required makes anything short of the black stuff a feeble substitute. And that means, in contrast to electric cars, battery-powered planes will never make their commercial debut in our lifetimes...