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The rise of biofuels

February 24, 2012, 09:07 am

Meetings focused on how best to boost growth at the Chicago Rockford International Airport have examined the aviation biofuel industry. Airport officials are considering bringing biofuel production to the local community as a source of jobs and environmental innovation.

Aviation Pros reported a fuel pipeline at the airport could provide a renewable source of kerosene to other markets in the region, such as O'Hare International Airport, helping the area become an emerging leader in green energy growth.

Rockford has received a $150,000 federal Economic Development Administration grant to pay for a study to identify potential new industries to create opportunities in the community. Using this funding, the airport could hire a consultant to investigate opportunities in the biofuel industry and see if the innovation would work in the Rockford area, the source reported.

Biofuels are the focus of many economic brainstorming sessions at the state and national level. The Obama administration has committed $150 million to private companies to develop alternative aviation and marine fuel sources, and the Navy and Agriculture and Energy departments feel developing viable biofuels is key to protecting national security, the source reported.

In addition, the European Union recently implemented a carbon emissions tax on all airlines flying into or departing from a member state to promote more environmentally-sound aviation practices. Carbon Positive reported airlines have been told biofuel usage will be counted as zero-emission fuels under the new tax, further encouraging the development of alternative energy sources.

The European Commission said airlines must list the amount of biomass used as fuel on a yearly basis, which will then be an annex to the annual emissions report used to determine carbon emissions credits for carriers. The goal of the project is to push airlines to use more biofuels with a financial incentive, the source reported.

"This means that biofuels have a subsidy equivalent to the prevailing carbon price," Isaac Valeron Ladron, spokesman for the EC, told Carbon Positive. "(The carbon tax) is a cost-effective incentive as the subsidy for biofuels is equivalent to the cost of reducing emissions in other sectors."

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