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Mexico Truly Committed with the Environment and Aeronautical Industry through Bio Fuel Leadership

27 April 2011 No Comment

In recent years, Mexico has taken the lead in sustainable and environmental friendly initiatives. Derived from these initiatives, Mexico has achieved outstanding results such as Mexico’s city air quality improvement, outstanding green house emissions reductions, as well as indisputable leadership in COP16.

Now, Mexico has its eyes set on becoming a major World player in the production and consumption of bio jet fuels and it is taking all the necessary steps to become a World class leader in the sector. Oil prices have increased fivefold in just a few years raising concerns in the industry about long term oil availability as well as putting tremendous financial pressure on jet fuel costs and financial viability of Airlines. Since 2008 more than 30 airlines have gone bankrupt or stopped operations around the globe mainly because of higher fuel costs which account as much as 40% of an airline total costs.

Moreover, the air transportation industry is considered to be responsible for 2 percent of man-made carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere. Some estimates indicate that by using bio jet fuels flight-related greenhouse gas emissions could reduce by 60 to 80 percent.

Bio jet fuels production is derived from algae, camelina and jatropha plants that are not used as food for human or animal consumption and thus do not compete directly with traditional crops putting pressure on commodity prices as it has been the case with other first generation bio fuels derived from edible crops. Actually, the Jathropa is a well-known crop for the Seri -an indigenous group of the Mexican state of Sonora- and has been used for basket making from its roasted stems.

According with Mexican authorities and industry experts the country has a highly competitive and privileged position for becoming the biggest supplier of jet bio fuel to the United States by 2015 given the climate conditions, the suitability of the non edible crops to arid and eroded soils, as well as the proximity to United States jet fuel market. Mexican government has put in place an ambitious and pioneer “flight plan” initiative to reach its goals in 2015. As a result of this initiative just a few weeks ago Interjet a Mexican low cost airline completed its first bio jet fuel test flight in an Airbus A320 from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas.

Currently, in states such as Baja California, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Chiapas and Yucatan non-edible plants for bio jet fuels are being grown through contract farming schemes to foster regional development and increased biomass yields for refining. There are several projects, joint ventures and pilot test running in topics such as algae extraction process, contract farming, as well as integrated value chain development.

This is an extraordinary opportunity that Mexico is seizing to both keep on contributing to the environment while making a difference for small farmers and also keeping a stronghold in the aeronautical industry. What would be possible if we keep working closely in North America in many other areas? Progress.

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