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SCMP Letters 29 Jan 2012

Cathay faces logistical problem

The article by Reinhard Renneberg (“Biofuels an idea that can really fly for airlines”, January 22) makes interesting reading.

He makes the proposal that algae should be used to produce biofuel oils.

The advantage appears to be that it is not only a cheaper source but is more plentiful than other crops, such as corn and sugar cane, and will not impact upon the food chain.

As the article points out, the airlines’ thirst for fuel should not deprive the hungry people of this world of basic food items.

Algae would appear to provide the ideal biofuel source, and an earlier report states that Cathay Pacific (SEHK: 0293) is preparing not only to use a biofuel additive, but also to become a producer of biofuel and other derivatives (“Cathay pins hopes on biofuels”, October 24).

The question is what type of organic crop would the company use, and where would it be possible to site its production line.

Assuming it went for algae, it can be grown in any type of water, even sea water or waste water. And of course land would be required to build a refinery and oil storage tanks.

The airline is then faced with the problem of whether suitable land and a large expanse of water can readily be found in Hong Kong.

If Cathay Pacific is really intent on going into the biofuel business, it is likely it would have to look at a location on the mainland. If its choice is algae, then a large expanse of water would also be a prime requirement.

Algae or otherwise, it seems obvious that the airline industry will have to look to the introduction of biofuels in an effort to reduce its carbon Footprint. And it is something that should be tackled as soon as possible, before higher costs, such as the European Union’s levy of a carbon tax add to the airlines’ costs, place an even higher burden on the travelling public.

Gordon Andreassend, Aerospace Forum

Download PDF : EIA 201.2011 – Comments from Solena Fuels (Dec 15 2011)-1

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