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The impact of advanced biofuels on aviation emissions and operations in the U.S


  • Winchester, Niven
  • Malina, Robert
  • Staples, Mark D.
  • Barrett, Steven R.H.


We analyze the economic and emissions impacts on U.S. commercial aviation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s renewable jet fuel goal when met using advanced fermentation (AF) fuel from perennial grasses. These fuels have recently been certified for use in aircraft and could potentially provide greater environmental benefits than aviation biofuels approved previously. Due to uncertainties in the commercialization of AF technologies, we consider a range of assumptions concerning capital costs, energy conversion efficiencies and product slates. In 2030, estimates of the implicit subsidy required to induce consumption of AF jet fuel range from $0.45 to $20.85 per gallon. These correspond to a reference jet fuel price of $3.23 per gallon and AF jet fuel costs ranging from $4.01 to $24.41 per gallon. In all cases, as renewable jet fuel represents around 1.4% of total fuel consumed by commercial aviation, the goal has a small impact on aviation operations and emissions relative to a case without the renewable jet fuel target, and emissions continue to grow relative to those in 2005. Costs per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent abated by using biofuels range from $42 to $652.

Suggested Citation

  • Winchester, Niven & Malina, Robert & Staples, Mark D. & Barrett, Steven R.H., 2015. "The impact of advanced biofuels on aviation emissions and operations in the U.S," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 482-491.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:49:y:2015:i:c:p:482-491
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2015.03.024

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Winchester, Niven & McConnachie, Dominic & Wollersheim, Christoph & Waitz, Ian A., 2013. "Economic and emissions impacts of renewable fuel goals for aviation in the US," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 116-128.
    2. Searchinger, Timothy & Heimlich, Ralph & Houghton, R. A. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Tokgoz, Simla & Hayes, Dermot J. & Yu, Hun-Hsiang, 2008. "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    3. Serra, Teresa & Zilberman, David, 2013. "Biofuel-related price transmission literature: A review," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 141-151.
    4. Niven Winchester & Christoph Wollersheim & Regina Clewlow & Nicolas C. Jost & Sergey Paltsev & John M. Reilly & Ian A. Waitz, 2013. "The Impact of Climate Policy on US Aviation," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 47(1), pages 1-15, January.
    5. Carriquiry, Miguel A. & Du, Xiaodong & Timilsina, Govinda R., 2011. "Second generation biofuels: Economics and policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 4222-4234, July.
    6. Kretschmer, Bettina & Narita, Daiju & Peterson, Sonja, 2009. "The economic effects of the EU biofuel target," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 32984, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    7. Malina, Robert & McConnachie, Dominic & Winchester, Niven & Wollersheim, Christoph & Paltsev, Sergey & Waitz, Ian A., 2012. "The impact of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme on US aviation," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 36-41.
    8. Gegg, Per & Budd, Lucy & Ison, Stephen, 2014. "The market development of aviation biofuel: Drivers and constraints," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 34-40.
    9. Sgouridis, Sgouris & Bonnefoy, Philippe A. & Hansman, R. John, 2011. "Air transportation in a carbon constrained world: Long-term dynamics of policies and strategies for mitigating the carbon footprint of commercial aviation," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1077-1091.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jaitra:v:69:y:2018:i:c:p:235-247 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cansino, José M. & Román, Rocío, 2017. "Energy efficiency improvements in air traffic: The case of Airbus A320 in Spain," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 109-122.
    3. repec:eee:energy:v:140:y:2017:i:p2:p:1378-1386 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:energy:v:140:y:2017:i:p2:p:1358-1367 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Sharma, Bijay P. & Yu, Tun-Hsiang Edward & English, Burton C. & Boyer, Christopher M., 2018. "Analyzing the Economics of Renewable Jet Fuels Using a Game-theoretic Approach," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273787, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. repec:eee:eneeco:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:89-108 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Gouzaye, Amadou & Epplin, Francis M., 2016. "Land requirements, feedstock haul distance, and expected profit response to land use restrictions for switchgrass production," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 59-66.

    More about this item


    Aviation; Biofuels; Climate Change; Emissions Abatement;

    JEL classification:

    • L93 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Air Transportation
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming


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