The Air Force wants to switch to 50% use of biofuel by 2016, confirming the transition to alternative energy in aviation.
Senator Maria Cantwell showed her support for the initiative while chairing a hearing in the U.S. Senate Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee.
“With the rising cost of jet fuel and the thriving American biofuel industry, we have an opportunity to help the aviation industry by keeping costs down for the future,” Cantwell said.
Camelina, a suitable crop for biofuel production around the U.S could see an increase in price farmers get for their crop.
Cantwell said the burning of petroleum-based jet fuel comprises 2 percent of the U.S’s global greenhouse gas emissions, and fluctuating oil prices make it difficult for airlines to enter into long-term fuel contracts.
The U.S. currently imports almost 65 percent of its petroleum and this is set to increase to 70%. Senator John Thune, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Aviation said it is in America’s interest to secure alternative energy no matter the form, because most of the oil is held by unstable regimes such as Venezuela and Iran. He also said that the Air Force wants half of its domestically purchased aviation fuel to be from renewable energy sources by 2016.
Biofuels could extend the engine life of aircraft as they are cleaner than fossil fuels and reduce the wear and tear on the engine. Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics said, “If we could extend the engine life 10 or 15 or 20 percent, that will certainly improve our readiness and ability to go to war”.
Washington state is one of the leaders of the biofuel industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it is uniting with AltAir Fuels to increase production of aviation biofuel with non-food crops grown in-state.
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) provides financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forestland who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocksand covers more than 50,000 acres in Washington, Montana and California.