With jet fuel demand set to rise by 1600% by 2050 and key customers from KLM, Virgin Atlantic and the US Navy actively pursuing alternatives, the stage is set for innovative biotech and fuel companies to grab the alternative aviation fuel market. Just a few weeks ago, the DOD committed first phase funding of five awards at up to $6 million each for drop in biofuels, sparking a major land grab for biofuels entrepreneurs.
This gives biofuels producers and fuel companies the opportunity to use government backing to drive development forward and makes commercialization more realizable. But issues still abound in this nascent industry. Secure finance is still notoriously hard to come by, whilst the enormity of the scale up challenges and the development of efficient infrastructure to deliver new fuels remain as serious roadblocks to progress.
But the desire for change is there and increasingly leading voices are adding their weight to the charge: The Dutch state secretary of infrastructure and the environment, Joop Atsma, said, “I will do everything in my power to ensure that from 2013 Dutch officials on government business will travel as much as possible on biofuel flights, including the government’s own aircraft.” And he is not alone – Secretary Vilsack of the USDA is unequivocal: “By bringing together farmers, scientists, and the private sector to produce fuel for the American military, we can create an economy built to last.”