(CNN)The first commercial planes in Africa to use biofuels carried 300 passengers between Johannesburg and Cape Town on July 15. The Boeing jets, operated by South African Airways (SAA), were partly powered by nicotine-free, high-energy “Solaris” tobacco plants cultivated by farmers in Limpopo Province. “This is very significant as it proves we can use this biofuel,” says Ian Cruickshank, SAA Group Environmental Affairs Specialist. Four or five years ago biofuel was seen as futuristic, and today it’s here.” “We won’t need to buy dollars or oil, so we will not be hostage to oil price variations,” he says, adding that scaled up production of the Solaris plants would also create thousands of jobs.
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