Perhaps this is a naive opinion — I’m open to that criticism. But if you believe, as I do, that the future of clean, efficient ground transportation is electrification, and that such a solution doesn’t exist for aviation, then you may support the idea that the bulk of research, development and commercialization around biofuels should be focused on replacing our use of jet fuel, not gasoline. It’s not that I don’t think there’s value in using biofuels for vehicles, particularly as the fuel component of a plug-in hybrid. It’s just that biofuels, in my view, represent the only realistic clean-fuel option for long-distance jet travel.
I cover this issue in my Clean Break column published today. About 50 per cent of a barrel of oil goes toward gasoline production, while only 10 per cent goes toward jet fuel production. It makes more sense to me to target that 10 per cent, which can’t be displaced with electrification, with biofuels. Solazyme, for example, has made significant progress with creating jet fuel from algae oil. New cellulosic approaches are also proving effective.
It just seems that pursuing every technology for every application simply spreads us too thin, dividing scare resources when we should instead be targeting them with precision. I know this flies against the whole free market approach to innovation, but at some point shouldn’t we get a little more focused?