Southwest To Start Flying Some Planes With Biofuels Made From Forest Waste As Early As 2016

Over the years there have been a number of fuel alternatives proven to power vehicles: from cooking oil to solar panels. Still we weren’t exactly prepared for planes that fly on forest remnants. But apparently it’s possible and Southwest plans to implement the use of those biofuels in at least some flights as soon as 2016.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Southwest has agreed to purchase 3 million gallons of “low-carbon renewable jet fuel” each year from Colorado-based Red Rocks Biofuels. The fuel will be used to fill up jets at airports in the San Francisco area.

Red Rocks’ produced fuel is “made using forest residue that will help reduce the risk of destructive wildfires in the Western United States,” officials with Southwest say.

While 3 million gallons per year might seem like a lot to those of us who only have to fill a small car tank, it barely makes a dent in the massive amount of fuel Southwest uses each year.

In 2013, Southwest bought 1.818 billion gallons of fuel, meaning that 3 million gallons only represents about 0.2% of that total. In fact, 3 million gallons isn’t even enough to meet Southwest’s fuel needs for one day.

However, the Dallas Morning News reports that the relatively small amount of biofuel will cover a noticeable portion of fuel used for Southwest fight at airports in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

Southwest might be one of the first airlines to announce the implementation of biofuels for flying purposes, but it certainly isn’t the only one exploring the idea. Back in 2012, Consumerist reported that a number of airlines were looking in to greener ways of flying planes, but were running into roadblocks by way of high costs and low availability.

Southwest Airlines to use biofuels made from ‘forest residues’ beginning in 2016 [Dallas Morning News]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.