International conference investigates Russian feedstock options for alternative aviation fuels

„Camelina from the Penza Region is a promising feedstock for the production of sustainable alternative aviation fuel“, concludes Joachim Buse, member of the board of aireg, after the Camelina Symposium 2013. More than 60 representatives of the Russian agricultural industry met with representatives of aireg member organizations in the city in Southern Russia last week to investigate possibilities for future cooperation. The discussion focused on agronomic issues as well as sustainability certification and feedstock logistics.

By invitation of CasusOil Projekt UG and the support of Penza region’s Governor Vasily Bochkarev, the conference highlighted the favorable conditions for the cultivation of camelina in the region. The Penza Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture has been working to optimize oil seeds for years. Camelina is well-suited for the region’s comparatively dry climate, with which crops like wheat cannot adequately cope. Prof. Alexander Smirnov, the institute’s director, is pointing to another advantage: “Camelina as part of the crop rotation is positively impacting the long-term fertility of the soil.”

In order to increase the camelina cultivation, substantial investments are still needed, as Bernd Meissner, Founder and Managing Director of Kronstein Alternative Investment Advisors is emphasizing. Long-term financing arrangements, the basis for economic sustainability, can be offered with the support of international pension funds. Local partners would thus gain the necessary planning security. Major investment needs have been identified in farming equipment itself, as well as further along the value chain, like in the construction of modern oil mills.

Determined to improve the export options of the regional agricultural industry and to increase the camelina cultivation in line with growing demand, the Russian attendees of the conference have agreed to form a camelina association. There was a consensus, that the significant availability of arable land is offering optimal conditions for an increase in camelina cultivation. Headed by Prof. Smirnow, the association is aiming to become a competent partner for aireg and its members.

In his presentation, Lukas Rohleder, Head of Communications at aireg, stressed the great strategic importance of alternative fuels for the German aviation sector and pointed to aireg’s role as a center of competence comprising the entire value chain. The aireg booth was a focal point for the attendees to get the latest information on the developments in Germany and the EU as regards alternative aviation fuels.