What do seaweed, used cooking oil and discarded clothing have in common? All three are part of plans for the decarbonization of Japan’s transport, acting as key ingredients for new biofuels being tested by Japanese airlines with an eye on full commercialization inside this decade.
While cars and other means of transportation are more convinced by eco-solutions in hydrogen and electrification, domestic aviation is reviving the idea that biofuels can become the “new oil”, phasing out petroleum with biological alternatives which can work with existing aircraft technology.
The government has identified demand for clean fuels in aviation as one of the 14 pillars of its Green Growth Strategy. It’s hoping that biofuels used in aviation, where the urgency is greatest due to new emissions standards, will drive broader innovation in the fuels sector and extend to other transport types.
In this two-part feature, we look at the current market for biofuels in Japan and outline new avenues for its near-term expansion in the aviation sector.
PART I – Transport, the Last Bastion of Fossil Fuels
While the emergence of renewables has diminished hydrocarbons’ role in power generation, it has barely made a dent in Japan’s transport sector.