Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Solaris (Solaris Energy Tobacco)
Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2015-12-31
The aviation sector set very ambitious targets for the use of biojet fuel: EC plans to reach 2 Mt by 2020 (1% of EU civil consumptions); IATA set a strict requirement to use only biojet fuel meeting SRB sustainability standards. The production of HVO biojet fuel is still largely relying on food crops, in particular imported soybean and palm oils, which are food crop and are not sustainable due to deforestation concerns. HVO producers are all eager to find sustainable and viable feedstock alternative in Europe. Solaris is a new variety of tobacco plant specifically targeted as feedstock for second generation biofuel: nicotine free, non GMO, producing oil-containing seeds, no food competing, globally available and cultivable in Europe. Sunchem, starting from the experience of the first pilot cultivation in South Africa in joint venture with Boeing, South African Airlines and SkyNRG (KLM group), wants to implement an integrated value chain in Europe for Solaris tobacco cultivation: to create an industrially viable agronomic process, certified and optimized value chain and validated in a pilot cultivation in Europe.
Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far
Analysis of the agronomic process for cultivation of Solaris in Europe: optimization measures, machines to be developed for the cultivation (harvesting, seedpod removal and forced drying); analysis of requirements and feasibility. Finalization of a Memorandum of Understanding for the the launch of Solaris in Italy at the highest level with the key Italian stakeholders: Alitalia/Ethiad, ENI and Boeing Italy. Market strategy in Italy and identification of the value chain for the commercialization of the products achieved from Solaris and pricing: oil for HVO; biomass for biogas; seedcake for animal feed. Cost, pricing and sensitivity analysis of gross margin with respect to benchmark (palm oil) price and agronomic costs. Financial and investment plan for the Italian business case. Market assessment and definition of the target cultivation areas in Europe in the medium term.
Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)
Solaris allows the highest oil productivity per hectare of all oil producing crops, only second to palm: double than rapeseed and jatropha. It is cultivable in Europe and US, which have strong tobacco cultivation experience, while other second generation crops (e.g. Jatropha) are not. It is a fully sustainable production: certified since 2012 by 2BSvs and since 2015 by the RSB. Biojet fuel production from solaris oil can reach 83% CO2 reduction compared to fossil jet fuel.