Sir Richard Branson: Renewable Aviation Fuel Will Be Standard Within 10 Years

06/12/2011 08:12 GMT | Updated 04/02/2012 10:12 GMT

Sir Richard Branson has voiced hope that planes could be powered mostly by renewable fuels by the end of the decade, as a scheme analysing options for "clean" aviation fuels was launched.

The Carbon War Room, founded by the leading businessman to help drive entrepreneurial solutions to climate change, is turning its attention to the aviation industry in a bid to cut a billion tonnes of greenhouse gases from the sector.

The initiative analyses the leading companies who are developing green aviation fuels to assess their sustainability, economic viability and ability to scale up to commercial levels of production.

Sir Richard said innovative new aviation fuels, including fuels sourced from the carbon put out by steel and aluminium works and from algae, were being developed.

The new initiative aims to drive investment towards the most innovative and sustainable options for cleaner fuels for the industry, which contributes 2-3% of global carbon emissions, he said.

Biofuels, which create fuel from plant sources, have been controversial amid concerns they divert land from growing food and can contribute to the clearing of forests to supply land - which adds to emissions overall.

But Sir Richard said the Carbon War Room aimed to reduce carbon dramatically in sectors such as the airline industry without causing damage to the economy, environment or food supplies.

"If we can find fuels that can fuel our planes that are not polluting the environment, that is extremely good news for the planet," he said.

"I think by 2020 potentially, if these suppliers can supply enough fuel, we really could be flying most planes on clean fuels.

"The airline industry could be one of the first industries to go from being a dirty industry to being a clean industry and it could bring the costs of flights down, because they're already finding that producing these fuels is cheaper than the current price of aviation fuel."