A Lufthansa flight last week marked the first time an airline has used biofuels on a standard commercial flight. The airline says the mixture of regular jet fuel and biofuel (made from jatropha and camelina plants and animal fats) will help power daily flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt run during a six-month trial. Lufthansa expects using the mixture will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 1,500 metric tons during that period.
This high-flying demonstration of the technical advances of transport fuels grown on a farm instead of drilled from the ground comes as the economic and environmental benefits of biofuels are being hotly debated in Europe.
In Brussels, the European Commission just approved sustainability standards for biofuels that are supposed to make sure they’re produced in ways that don’t hurt the environment or exploit the world’s poor.
But environmental groups say the new standards fail to address biofuels’ shortcomings, and a series of leaked EU reports are casting doubt on the long-term viability of the entire enterprise.