Sir Richard Branson says the Virgin Group will invest all their profits into clean energy which may involve using the eucalyptus tree as jet fuel.
The Virgin group of airlines is exploring the use of eucalyptus oil in Queensland as an alternative aviation fuel, with all local profits being funnelled into the research, founder Sir Richard Branson said this morning.
Sir Richard said their research was looking at refining the alternative aviation fuel so it did not freeze at high altitudes.
«We have announced today that the eucalyptus tree we think has the possibility of being a fuel for the future, to fuel Virgin Australia’s planes and other people’s planes,» Sir Richard told delegates at the Asia Pacific Cities Summit in Brisbane.
Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson.Photo: Luis Enrique
«Obviously Australia has a lot of eucalyptus trees and, if we are correct, it would be a wonderful fuel for the future which won’t eat into the food supply.»
Sir Richard, who now heads 300 businesses worldwide, said all Virgin Australia profits were being directed to the research.
He said he was reluctant to enter into Australia’s domestic politics, but was aware of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax announcement, due on Sunday.
«Ideally any tax should be done on a global basis really,» Sir Richard said.
«Ideally, not on a country-by-country basis.»
Sir Richard said there was an international meeting in Durban in December at which he believed such a decision could be reached.
«Hopefully something will be put through so that if it is done on a global basis it won’t disadvantage individual countries, or individual companies,» he said.
Earlier in the conference, where he used an elaborate question-and-answer session to deliver his keynote address, Sir Richard said clean energy investment should not be taxed for the «next 20 or 30 years» to allow it to consolidate against fossil fuels.
Sir Richard said Australia was well placed economically for the next decade, but said the rising price of fuel was the biggest threat to Australia in the Asia Pacific region.
«I think everything you can do to reduce your expenditure on energy in cities and everything you can do to encourage clean energy to be produced, the better,» he said.
Sir Richard said the continued strong growth in China and India at 8 or 9 per cent GDP put pressure on global oil prices as oil reserves diminished.
«You could see oil going up to $200 a barrel and I think that will set us all into a recession again,» he said.
«So everything that can be done to encourage new forms of clean energy the better.»
Brisbane lord mayor Graham Quirk used the comments to announce Brisbane was about to sign a contract to provide a 20-year guarantee to a successful partner to provide clean energy to the city.
«If we can lock in a contract now, with the right renewable energy, that will set ourselves up for the future,» he said.