The aviation industry, and its enthusiastic backers like the UK government, are keen to claim the problem of the sector’s vast carbon emissions can be solved, fairly soon, by SAF (“sustainable aviation fuels”). They agree these should not come directly from agricultural crops, competing with human food and animal fodder for land. They will instead come (as well as fuels produced using electricity) from agricultural, forestry and domestic wastes. These would be the feedstocks. But there are significant problems, so far apparently overlooked by governments etc, about competing uses for those feedstocks. There are already markets for used cooking oil, and it can all be used for animal food, or in other industries. Taking crop wastes off the land not only means lower organic matter returned to the soil, reducing its structure and fertility, but also its removal for other uses – such as for animal bedding. There are competing uses for forestry waste, such as the paper and pulp industry. Feedstocks could be used to make diesel for road vehicles, or burned to produce electricity. So if aviation wants these feedstocks, there will be competition and higher prices for other sectors. These problems should not be ignored in the mindlessly optimistic rush for the illusion of “jet zero”. . Tweet
Authors: Jane O’Malley, Nikita Pavlenko, Stephanie Searle (ICCT_
INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON CLEAN TRANSPORTATION
If the European Union aviation industry is to meet its long-term goal of decarbonization without curbing traffic growth or relying on out-of-sector carbon offsets, switching to sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) is one of the few methods of achieving in-sector greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.
Though previous, transport-wide EU fuel policies have done little to stimulate the development of the SAF industry, the recently proposed ReFuel EU initiative could set a clear policy signal for the introduction and expansion of an advanced-only SAF industry producing ultra-low carbon fuels.
However, it is critical that policymakers set realistic SAF deployment goals that match the amount of fuel that could be made from available feedstock.
This study evaluates the EU resource base to support SAF production from 2025 to 2035, focusing only on the potential volumes available from sustainably available feedstocks.
Without taking into account the political or economic barriers to SAF production, we estimate that there is a sufficient resource base to support approximately 3.4 million tonnes (Mt) of advanced SAF production annually, or 5.5% of projected EU jet fuel demand in 2030.
The estimated production potential takes into account feedstock availability, sustainable harvesting limits, existing other uses of those materials, and SAF conversion yields.
This assessment does not factor in the economic incentives necessary to drive that level of market demand or to mobilize investment in new biorefineries.- The commercialization of SAF depends on many factors beyond the resource base for SAF production. Currently, even with some incentives and targeted support in place, SAF production covers less than 0.05% of global jet fuel demand.
While producing SAF from waste oils is the most technically mature SAF conversion pathway, waste oils are highly resource-constrained and are already largely consumed by the road sector.
High near-term targets for SAF blending may only incentivize the diversion of waste oils from existing uses in the road sector, approaching approximately 2% of 2030 jet fuel demand from waste oil alone.
Moving beyond 2% of SAF deployment will require targeted support for more conversion pathways with more challenging economics and uncertain production timelines.
To achieve long-term success for the advanced SAF industry, the ReFuel EU initiative must first lay the groundwork for these pathways through targeted incentives for individual projects before laying out a sector-wide blending target.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Dan Rutherford of the ICCT, Karlijn Arts of SkyNRG, and Laura Buffet of Transport & Environment for helpful reviews.
As with food-based biofuels, interactions with existing markets for some SAF feedstocks may lead to indirect emissions that change our understanding of their GHG savings. Feedstocks are rarely pure wastes that are disposed of in the absence of biofuel demand. In most cases, they contain market and ecological value. For example, residues from crops such as wheat are already productively used for livestock fodder and bedding, as well as in other uses such as mushroom production and horticulture (Searle & Malins, 2016). If all wheat straw were instead diverted to biofuels production, the other uses would lack raw materials and require an increase in production of substitutable materials. Understanding a feedstock’s displacement effects is critical for ensuring GHG savings as well as determining quantities that can be diverted to biofuels production without reducing its availability for use in other applications.
We estimate feedstock availability in 2030 based on previous ICCT analyses assessing physical production of feedstocks and taking into account limits on maximum collection rates including harvesting capability, in situ ecological value, and usage as raw materials in other markets. We also note that diverting available feedstock toward fuel for the aviation sector would reduce its availability for competing uses in other transportation applications such as on-road diesel fuel. While waste fats are easier to process into “drop-in” fuels — or direct substitutes — lignocellulosic feedstocks are more abundant and could theoretically provide greater quantities of SAF. Previous research on lignocellulosic waste and residue availability in the European Union by Searle and Malins (2016) groups sustainable feedstocks into three categories: agricultural residues, forestry residues, and municipal and industrial waste. We supplement those findings by evaluating the potential from three additional potential SAF feedstocks including cover crops, industrial flue gases, and electrofuels produced using renewable electricity, CO2, and water.
Is growth of sustainable aviation fuel in the market set to soar?
A focus on biofuels Governments are acknowledging the increasingly obvious gap around aviation in the response to transportation decarbonization. They have stepped up plans to promote the use of biofuels across the sector. Many consider increasingly stringent mandates and are poised to demand sustainable fuels play a greater part in the landscape.
But a lot is asked of any aviation fuel. Average engines on the newest fleets of airlines will deliver up to 90,000 lbs of thrust per engine. They must operate reliably in the harsh, cold environment at 40,000 feet.
The sector has had some successes, with sustainable fuels used in a limited number of passenger and freight routes recently. But, to drive economies of scale, the hunt is now on to unlock production on an industrial scale.
And that’s the key to allowing advanced biofuels to play in this space.
The path ahead Clear mandates set out a flight path for the fuel’s adoption and use. Increasingly, the sector is leading the decarbonization debate. This is while innovators turn to new technologies or reliable older chemical processes to boost production and scale up promising demonstration concepts.
That is pulling in an ever-wider slate of feedstock, from algae to household waste, from corn through to forestry. Aviation’s thirst is set to bring fresh disruption to existing commodities. It will challenge the use of used cooking oils in biodiesel production, adding another dimension to the pulp and paper industry or even disrupting the role of corn within ethanol and animal feed use.
The ambition is large, and it needs to be. Even against the backdrop of pandemic, the United States alone burned nearly 10.3 billion gallons (350 million tonnes) of jet fuel in 2020. It is already showing signs of powering back toward pre-pandemic levels of up to 18 billion gallons in 2021.
At a basic 5% flat blend mandate, that will generate demand for 17.5 million tonnes of jet fuel on Covid-based data versus current production levels that amount to around 100,000 tonnes equating to around 0.05% of total European Union jet fuel consumption.
The EU is looking to deliver a mandate of 63% sustainable fuel by 2050.
Jet Zero consultation – what it says on “sustainable aviation fuels” (spoiler…crazy over-optimism)
July 16, 2021
The DfT’s consultation on reducing aviation carbon emissions, “Jet Zero” places a lot of faith in finding novel, low carbon fuels, so people can continue to fly as much as they want. These are called “Sustainable Aviation Fuels” (SAF). The consultation says SAF “could play a key role in decarbonising aviation, whilst also representing an industrial leadership opportunity for the UK.” The economic opportunity aspect, and producing jobs, is key for the DfT. They say “Many experts view SAF as the only alternative for long-haul flights up to 2050, which are the flights with the biggest climate impact.” The DfT is hoping SAF could “result in over 70% CO2 emissions saving on a lifecycle basis and could deliver net zero emissions with the addition of greenhouse gas removal technologies.” SAF would either be biogenic, non-biogenic (from wastes) or made using zero-carbon electricity. There are huge problems, glossed over by the consultation. A key problem is that “there is currently no comprehensive global regulatory standard for SAF sustainability. The UK is therefore active at ICAO in negotiating for a full set of sustainability criteria for SAF.” The DfT “will shortly consult on a UK SAF mandate setting out our level of ambition for future SAF uptake.”
Airlines are falling over each other, to say how much “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” (SAF) they plan to use in future, and how this will greatly increase their carbon emissions. Ryanair says it will use 12.5% SAF by 2030; IAG says it will use 10% by 2030; easyJet says they will use SAF in the short term, but “we must avoid all resources being drawn into SAFs, which don’t fully solve the problem.” According to the European Commission, SAF currently accounts for just 0.05% of jet fuel use in the EU, and without further regulation, the share is expected to reach just 2.8% by 2050. There is disagreement between low cost, short haul airlines and those flying longer routes, about whether SAF fuel quotas should apply to all flights, not only short haul. Long-haul air services departing European airports accounted for 48% of CO2 emissions from all operations in 2019, while making up just 6% of flights, according to Eurocontrol data. It is unclear what all this SAF is going to be made from. One of the very few fuels thought to genuinely be low carbon, up to now, has been used cooking oil. But it has been revealed that there is considerable fraud, with virgin palm oil (causing deforestation) being passed off as used. . Tweet
Ryanair to power 12.5 per cent of flights with sustainable aviation fuels by 2030
30 Apr 2021
by Mark Caswell (Business Traveller)
Ryanair has launched a new sustainable aviation research centre in partnership with Trinity College Dublin, along with a goal to power 12.5 per cent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) by 2030.
The initiative will see Ryanair donate €1.5 million which will be used “to seed a multi-disciplinary research team to engage in best-in-class research around Sustainable Aviation Fuels, Zero Carbon Aircraft Propulsion Systems and Noise Mapping”.
Ryanair said that the research, which will start this summer, “will inform the policies of both EU and international governments on making aviation environmentally and economically sustainable, as well as harness future investments by the aviation industry towards sustainability”.
The group said that the project, along with investment in its new Boeing B737 Max 200 “Gamechanger” aircraft (of which the carrier has 210 order), will help it significantly reduce its CO2 and noise footprint over the next decade.
The initiative will accelerate research in three core areas of sustainable aviation fuels, zero carbon aircraft propulsion systems, and noise mapping for low-noise aircraft fleets.
Ryanair recently joined the Fuelling Flight Initiative, which is intended to provide recommendations on the sustainability aspects of the EU’s policy design to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).
Earlier this month British Airways’ parent company IAG announced a commitment to operate 10 per cent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030.
IAG to operate 10 per cent of flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030
23 Apr 2021
by Mark Caswell (Business Traveller)
International Airlines Group has announced a commitment to operate 10 per cent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030.
The owner of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling says it will purchase one million tonnes of sustainable jet fuel per year, enabling it to cut its annual emissions by two million tonnes by 2030.
The group says that this equates to removing one million cars from Europe’s roads each year.
In addition IAG says it will extend its 2050 net zero commitment to its supply chain, stating that it will work with suppliers “to enable them to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 for the products and services they provide to IAG”.
The group plans to invest US$400 million in the development of sustainable aviation fuel in the next 20 years, partnering with SAF developers Lanzajet and Velocys.
Commenting on the news Luis Gallego, IAG’s chief executive, said:
“For more than a decade, IAG has led the airline industry’s actions to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s clearly challenging to transition to a low carbon business model but, despite the current pandemic, we remain resolute in our climate commitments.
“Government support is critical to meet this target by attracting investment to construct sustainable aviation fuel plants that will deliver enough supply for the airline industry, creating highly valued green jobs and economic growth at global scale”.
Velocys also provided Business Traveller with the following comment:
“Velocys welcomes our project partner IAG’s commitment to power 10 per cent of its flights with SAF by 2030. Our planned Altalto waste-to-jet-fuel plant will be the UK’s first SAF facility and could be fuelling transatlantic flights in just five years’ time with no need to modify aircraft or engines at all.
“The fuel, based on technology supplied by Velocys, can offer negative-carbon-emissions fuels with the integration of carbon capture technologies.
“We are proud to be collaborating with an organisation who recognise the essential role SAF will play in significantly decarbonising the aviation sector by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”
This week the results of a new study carried out on behalf CE Delft on behalf of Transport and Environment Europe’s showed that surging demand for used cooking oil for biofuels could fuel deforestation.
Doubts cast over some sources of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)
22 Apr 2021 by Tom Otley (Business Traveller)
Doubts have been cast over the sources of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) just as airlines look to increase the amount used for their flights.
SAF is seen as an interim answer to the problem of carbon emissions from flying. It is a ‘drop-in’ fuel, meaning it can be used without adapting conventional jet engines, and although it is up to three times more expensive than kerosene, customers are being persuaded to pay more to encourage increased production and bring prices down.
Air France and KLM launch Sustainable Aviation Fuel option for corporate customers
Governments are also being lobbied to support the SAF industry.
There are doubts, however, including a new study which shows that despite the European Union promoting used cooking oil as a waste product which will reduce the lifetime emissions of the fuel used to power transport, over half of it comes from abroad. As demand could double by 2030, it leaves the EU increasingly reliant on imports, despite EU auditors raising concerns over inadequate systems to stop virgin oils like palm, which drive deforestation, being passed off as used.
NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), which commissioned the study, is calling on the EU to limit the amount of used cooking oil in transport and improve monitoring to avoid fuelling deforestation.
The NGO says that China supplies over a third (34 per cent) of Europe’s used cooking oil imports while almost a fifth (19 per cent) comes from major palm oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia combined. Within a decade the volume Europe needs could double to 6 million tonnes as EU countries strive to meet targets for renewable fuels in transport, the study finds. This in turn could trigger palm oil being used to replace cooking oil in exporting countries while also incentivising fraud (mixing virgin oil).
Cristina Mestre, biofuels manager at T&E, said: “Europe’s thirst for used cooking oil to power its transport sector is outstripping the amount leftover from the continent’s deep fryers. This leaves us reliant on a waste product being shipped from the other side of the world. Countries that would use used cooking oil for animal feed and other products may end up exporting theirs while using cheap oil, like palm, at home. The EU needs to limit the use of used cooking oil to avoid doing more harm than good.”
It would be possible for Europe to increase local sources of genuine used cooking oil, says T&E, but at present there are the limits both of the capacity of local authorities to collect it and how much used cooking oil Europeans and EU industries can produce.
As used cooking oil is counted double towards national renewables targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, ironically it is often traded at a higher price than virgin oil. This increases the risk that virgin oils could be fraudulently mixed with imported used cooking oil.
The EU Court of Auditors has said that voluntary schemes cannot guarantee that all the UCO imported into Europe is actually ‘used’.
New fraud investigation casts doubt over used cooking oil origins
Cristina Mestre concluded: “The current EU system for biofuels does not provide certainty that used cooking oil is actually used. The EU should strengthen its verification and monitoring requirements along the supply chain and do regular checks to make sure it is really a waste product and therefore sustainable.”
The NGO says that palm oil production is one of the key drivers of deforestation in Southeast Asia and increasingly in South America. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive will be reviewed in June, including the rules that govern renewable fuels in transport.
easyJet to fly hydrogen planes in the 2030s, SAF is the interim step
SAFs continue to be the key technology for long-haul aviation to reduce its impact on the environment
2 April 2021 (H2Bulletin)
Decarbonisation seems to have reset the technological developments in aviation, making the future more complex and challenging. The smaller aircraft industry has now increased its bets on hydrogen fuel cell technology and electrification, though long hauled aircraft will likely tilt towards sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), albeit at slow speed.
A significant advantage of using SAF is that aircraft engines do not need to be redesigned to use them, while SAF can also be blended with conventional fuels. According to the European Commission, SAF currently accounts for just 0.05% of jet fuel use in the EU, and without further regulation, the share is expected to reach just 2.8% by 2050.
Europe’s airlines are united to support the 2050 net-zero target; now, the question of whether to extend the green fuel blending obligation to long-haul flights is revealing some cracks in their unity. Airlines are already divided over the inclusion of long haul, whereas Eurocontrol estimates that just 6% of flights, those over 4000 km in length, create half of the aviation’s CO2 emissions.
In early March 2021, a group of organisations which included Ryanair and easyJet sent a letter to Vice-President of the European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean calling to cover long-haul emissions by the EU’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels mandate. The European Commission will soon release the ReFuelEU Aviation regulation to support green flights, but low-cost airlines worry that large polluters (long flights) will be exempt from the requirement.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said, “SAFs are only an interim step for shorthaul carriers. Our ultimate solution is zero-emission propulsion which is why it is crucial that there are aviation-specific incentives for zero-emissions technologies like electric and hydrogen and why we must avoid all resources being drawn into SAFs, which don’t fully solve the problem.”
At the end of 2019, easyJet signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus for research into infrastructure requirements for electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen aircraft. In September 2020, Airbus unveiled three different hydrogen-powered concept planes; turbofan, turboprop and blended wing body. “We are optimistic that we will be regularly flying our customers on electric, hydrogen or hybrid planes by the mid to late-2030s,” easyJet told H2 bulletin.
Call for UK government support for sustainable aviation fuels
2 Jun 2020
by Tom Otley (Business Traveller)
The Sustainable Aviation coalition has today written to the UK Government’s Transport Secretary calling for UK aviation to be at the heart of the Government’s economic recovery strategy.
The coalition which is formed of UK airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and air navigation service providers, says that capitalizing on the UK’s world leading position on sustainable aviation fuel technology will allow the country to rapidly bounce back from Covid-19.
Europe’s first municipal waste-to-jet fuel facility – Altalto Immingham – was granted planning permission in North East Lincolnshire recently.
The coalition wants the UK Government to work with industry to work on similar projects, as well as:
Develop aircraft and engine technology R&D capabilities, ensuring the UK is among the first in the world to develop hybrid and electric aircraft; Accelerate UK airspace modernisation, to make use of new aircraft performance capability and reduce emissions and noise; and Progress robust carbon offset measures and carbon removal technologies.
The commitment would, according to the coalition, require an investment of £500 million as part of the UK Government’s recovery plan. Adam Morton, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said:
“In February this year, UK aviation committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and laid out a plan to achieve this through investing in cleaner aircraft and engine technology, smarter flight operations, sustainable aviation fuels and high-quality carbon offsets and removals.
“Three months on, these actions all remain essential to delivering sector wide decarbonisation, particularly given the role UK aviation can play as an engine for rebuilding the economy. But to capitalise on these opportunities we need urgent action from Government, particularly to support the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel technology in the UK.”
The Swedish government plans to charge airlines more at takeoff and landing if their aircraft are less fuel efficient. It must be approved by parliament. The plan might take effect in July and means that newer and less inefficient aircraft will benefit from the scheme, while older planes, more fuel-hungry planes will be hit with higher fees. Sweden may be the first to do this. It will affect Arlanda airport in Stockholm and Landvetter in Gothenburg, and the plan is still under discussion and being fine-tuned. However, it will consider aircraft using biofuels as low carbon. There are only very tiny amounts of biofuel available, that do not cause considerable environmental harm. Some can be produced from woody waste, from the wood industry. Some from domestic waste. It is expensive to produce. The cheapest source of these fuels would be palm oil, which would have very negative impacts on biodiversity, competing with land for human food, and also in reality produce as much CO2 over the full life-cycle as fossil kerosene. . Tweet
There is a lot of hype about biofuels in Sweden:
Sweden to increase airport fees for high-polluting planes
Climate impact, such as use of biofuels, to be taken into account when calculating charges, says government
Agence France-Presse Tue 23 Mar 2021 (Guardian)
Sweden plans to charge airlines more at takeoff and landing if their aircraft are more polluting, the government has said.
The measure is set to go into effect in July and means that newer and more efficient aircraft will benefit from the scheme while older planes will be hit with higher fees.
“This means that takeoff and landing fees can be more significant when a plane’s climate impact is higher and they can be reduced when the climate impact is lower,” said the ministry of infrastructure on Monday, describing the plan as a first in Europe and possibly the world.
The project, which must be approved by parliament and concerns Arlanda airport in Stockholm and Landvetter in Gothenburg, also takes into account aircraft that use bio fuels.
The government said the project was still under discussion and being fine-tuned.
Sweden is where the flight-shame, or flygskam, movement began in 2018 that heaped pressure on people to stop flying in order to lower carbon emissions. According to Swedish Railways, a single flight between Stockholm and Gothenburg, its two biggest cities, generates as much carbon dioxide as 40,000 train journeys – a fact that has plainly struck a chord with Swedes, previously a nation of frequent flyers.
According to a 2017 study, air travel by every Swede is responsible for about about 1.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide, a 50% increase from 1990.
‘Sweden becomes a frontrunner in sustainable aviation’
Sweden aims to be fossil-free by 2045
Sweden has an ambitious target of being fossil-free by 2045 and the Swedish Government plans to introduce a greenhouse gas reduction mandate for aviation fuel sold in the country next year. The reduction level will be 0.8% in 2021, and gradually increase to 27% in 2030. This makes Sweden an undisputed leader in sustainable aviation. “We need frontrunners to lead the way in sustainable aviation. The ambitious target now set by the Swedish government is an example others should follow in order to support the aviation industry in meeting its emission reduction targets. It also creates the necessary certainty for sustainable aviation fuel producers to invest in increasing the production”, says Jonathan Wood, vice president, renewable aviation Europe at Neste. Earlier this year, Norway introduced a 0.5% biofuel blending mandate. There will be enough capacity on the market to supply the anticipated volumes of sustainable aviation fuel to Sweden and Norway. Neste is already producing commercial scale volumes of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel, refined from renewable waste and residue raw materials. In its neat form and over the lifecycle, the fuel can reduce up to 80% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil jet fuel. Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel annual capacity is currently 100,000 tons. With Neste’s Singapore refinery expansion on the way, and with possible additional investment into the Rotterdam refinery, Neste will have the capacity to produce some 1.5 million tons of sustainable aviation fuel annually by 2023. The global aviation industry has set ambitious targets to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from air transport, including carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and beyond, and a 50% reduction of net aviation carbon emissions by 2050. Aviation needs multiple solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, sustainable aviation fuels offer the only viable alternative to fossil fuels for powering aircrafts.
According to a 2017 study, air travel by every Swede is responsible for about about 1.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide, a 50% increase from 1990.
UK Government has launched new funding to spur the development of “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF) from waste. There have been claims that US scientists have found a way to ‘massively reduce carbon emissions from flying’. The benefits of the novel way to make jet fuel are exaggerated. The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) says that the claims require some very dodgy carbon accounting. They are adding the methane that might be generated by decomposing rubbish, and assumptions about carbon emissions – but ignoring the CO2 emissions produced when the fuel is burnt. In fact these emissions would be slightly higher, from waste-derived fuel, than conventional fuel, as it has a slightly higher carbon content. A better way to prevent methane from rotting landfill waste would be to cut food waste, divert biodegradable rubbish away from landfill sites and use methane capture technologies there. Cait Hewitt of AEF said “any government incentives for use of alternative fuels for aviation will need very clear and transparent guidelines to ensure that they actually cut aviation emissions, to avoid this kind of accounting smokescreen in future.” Government is In the meantime, cutting back on flying is easily the best way of reducing aviation emissions.” . Tweet
CLAIM THAT NEW FUEL FROM WASTE WILL MASSIVELY CUT FLYING EMISSIONS IS DANGEROUSLY MISLEADING
16th March, 2021
By AEF (Aviation Environment Federation)
A press story yesterday claimed that US scientists had found a way to ‘massively reduce carbon emissions from flying’.
In fact, though, the ‘up to 165%’ emissions reduction claimed by the report authors arises largely from supposed savings as a result of preventing methane emissions that would otherwise arise from landfill, together with ‘carbon credit incentives’ for using energy sources other than fossil fuels. When the fuel is burnt in an aircraft the emissions it generates would actually be higher, the authors admit, than from burning conventional fossil fuels, as a result of its slightly higher carbon content.
Methane generated by rotting landfill waste is a powerful greenhouse gas. Cutting food waste, diverting biodegradable rubbish away from landfill sites and putting in place methane capture technologies can all help to tackle these emissions. For the UK to achieve net zero, these steps need to be delivered in addition to – not instead of – the decarbonisation of aviation.
The BBC story was published the day before the UK Government launched new funding to spur the development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel from waste. There will also be a consultation this year on potential mandates for the purchase of ‘sustainable aviation fuels’ with a view to stimulating the market for these fuels, which are currently significantly more expensive than kerosene (which remains untaxed).
AEF deputy director Cait Hewitt said:
There seems to be some very dodgy carbon accounting behind the claim that this fuel will cut emissions from flying. Genuine answers to the aviation emissions problem are in fact still few and far between.
Any government incentives for use of alternative fuels for aviation will need very clear and transparent guidelines to ensure that they actually cut aviation emissions, to avoid this kind of accounting smokescreen in future. Including international aviation emissions in carbon budgets would be one way to help ensure proper accountability for this sector, which has so far fallen through the net when it comes to climate policy.
In the meantime, cutting back on flying is easily the best way of reducing aviation emissions.
Between 1990 and 2019 emissions from international flights departing UK airports increased by 138%. In the year the UK will host the global COP meeting, green groups have highlighted the need for government action on aviation emissions.
Climate change: Jet fuel from waste ‘dramatically lowers’ emissions
By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent (BBC)
Read with caution – there is a lot of dodgy carbon accounting in this.
A new approach to making jet fuel from food waste has the potential to massively reduce carbon emissions from flying, scientists say.
Currently, most of the food scraps that are used for energy around the world are converted into methane gas.
But researchers in the US have found a way of turning this waste into a type of paraffin that works in jet engines.
The authors of the new study say the fuel cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 165% compared to fossil energy. [sic]
This figure comes from the reduction in carbon emitted from airplanes plus the emissions that are avoided when food waste is diverted from landfill. [There are other, better, ways of dealing with the methane problem, other than turning it into jet fuel, to be burned at 36,000 ft – adding non-CO2 climate impacts. AW comment]
The aviation industry worldwide is facing some difficult decisions about how to combine increased demand for flying with the need to rapidly cut emissions from the sector.
In the US, airlines currently use around 21 billion gallons of jet fuel every year, with demand expected to double by the middle of the century. At the same time, they have committed to cutting CO2 by 50%.
Making paraffin from wet-waste
Current methods of making green jet fuel are based on a similar approach to making biodiesel for cars and heavy goods vehicles.
It normally requires the use of virgin vegetable oils as well as waste fats, oil and grease to make the synthetic fuel.
At present, it is more economical to convert these oils and wastes into diesel as opposed to jet fuel – which requires an extra step in the process, driving up costs.
Now, researchers say that they have developed an alternative method able to turn food waste, animal manure and waste water into a competitive jet hydrocarbon.
Much of this material, termed wet-waste, is at present is turned into methane gas. However, the authors found a way of interrupting this process so it produced volatile fatty acids (VFA) instead of CH4.
The researchers were then able to use a form of catalytic conversion to upgrade the VFA to two different forms of sustainable paraffin. [There is, of course, no reason why these fuel could not be used for vehicles – heavy lorries etc – that need liquid fuel. They do not have to power aircraft. AW comment]
>When the two forms were combined they were able to blend 70% of the mixture with regular jet fuel, while still meeting the extremely strict quality criteria that Federal authorities impose on aircraft fuels.
“>”There’s exciting jet fuels that rely on burning trash and dry waste but this actually works for those wastes that have high water content, which we normally dispose of in landfill,” said Derek Vardon, a senior research engineer at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the lead author on the study.
Another major advantage is that this new fuel produces [are they sure?] around 34% less soot than current standards. This is important because soot plays a key role in the formation of contrails from airplanes which adds a powerful warming effect to CO2 coming from the engines.
“>”That’s where we see the most potential for this technology is that you’re preventing methane emissions, and dramatically lowering the carbon footprint of jet fuel. And you just can’t do that with fossil fuels without getting into things like offsets,” said Derek Vardon.
Many environmental groups are sceptical about attempts to develop sustainable aviation fuels, believing that it amounts to green-washing. They argue that people should just fly less.
“Sustainable aviation fuel is not a silver bullet,” Derek Vardon says.
“So we do want to definitely emphasise that reduction is the most important and most significant change you can make. But there’s also pragmatism and need for aviation solutions now, so that’s where we want to strike a balance as we need a basket of measures, to really start getting our carbon footprint down in a variety of sectors, including aviation.”
British Airways (not much to do at present …) says it “will operate transatlantic flights partially powered by sustainable fuels as early as 2022”. BA says it will invest in a new US plant to be built in Georgia by LanzaJet producing commercial-scale volumes of “sustainable” aviation fuel (SAF), made from ethanol derived from agricultural and other waste. It claims this would “create 70% less carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel.” It will actually produce tiny amounts of fuel. IAG says it will invest almost £300m in SAF as part of its pledge to decarbonise by 2050 (while increasing numbers of passengers and flights!), and would investigate building a refinery with LanzaTech in the UK. BA is also involved in a domestic- waste-to-fuel plant in partnership with Velocys, in Immingham, Humberside, that Shell pulled out of in January. Sean Doyle, of BA, said (they always want public funds to help produce alternative fuels for planes) “We need government support” for this. BA and LanzaTech are part of the Jet Zero Council, launched to some fanfare by Boris Johnson in July 2020; it has not met since then. . Tweet
BA plans transatlantic flights partially fuelled by recycled waste in 2022
British Airways to invest in new US plant producing sustainable aviation fuel. It says the fuel will create 70% less carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel.
By Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent (The Guardian) @GwynTopham Tue 9 Feb 2021
British Airways says it will operate transatlantic flights partially powered by sustainable fuels as early as next year.
BA will invest in a new US plant to be built in Georgia by LanzaJet producing commercial-scale volumes of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), made from ethanol derived from agricultural and other waste.
The airline said the fuel would create 70% less carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel.
However, it is likely to only provide a tiny fraction of BA’s overall fuel needs at first. SAF can be used to substitute for up to 50% of conventional jet fuel but so far demonstration flights – such as one conducted in 2018 by Virgin Atlantic with LanzaTech (from which LanzaJet was spun off) – have blended only about 5% of the greener fuel.
BA’s owner, IAG, which has pledged to invest almost £300m in SAF as part of its pledge to decarbonise by 2050, said it would investigate building a refinery with LanzaTech in the UK, as well as a waste-to-fuel plant in partnership with Velocys.
The announcement came as the Dutch airline KLM claimed a world first in using sustainable synthetic kerosene on a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Madrid. Shell made 500 litres – just over 5% of the flight’s overall fuel burn – synthesised from CO2 and water using renewable energy sources.
Pieter Elbers, the chief executive of KLM, said: “The transition from fossil fuel to sustainable alternatives is one of the largest challenges in aviation. This first flight on synthetic kerosene shows that it is possible in practice and that we can move forward.”
BA said it expects the LanzaJet fuel to “be available to power a number of its flights by the end of 2022”. Its chief executive, Sean Doyle, said: “Following the successful startup of the Georgia plant, we hope to then deploy the technology and SAF production capacity in the UK.”
But he added: “We need government support to drive decarbonisation and accelerate the realisation of this vision.”
BA and LanzaTech are part of the Jet Zero Council, launched to some fanfare by Boris Johnson last year with an ambitious – if technically unfeasible – challenge to built a zero-emission long-haul jet.
The government has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, last week rebuffed accusations of inaction, telling the Commons that the council had met twice already. Shapps has now admitted it only met once, on the day it was launched last July.
Mike Kane, the shadow aviation minister, said: “The transport secretary claimed the government’s Jet Zero Council was a ‘huge step forward in making change’, so it’s disappointing to say the least that he doesn’t know the most basic details of its work.
“If ministers are serious about achieving sustainability in aviation and tackling the climate crisis, they need to focus on making real progress, not just paying lip service.”
Shell pulls out of UK joint venture with BA and Velocys to produce “low carbon” jetfuel
January 21, 2021
Shell has pulled out of the joint Altalto venture with British Airways and Velocys to build a plant in Immingham, Humberside to make “sustainable jet fuels from non-recyclable household waste. There has been a lot of hype about novel fuels for aviation, and how they will help reduce the CO2 emissions from flights slightly – even while the sector stays the same size or grows. Shell will instead join a more lucrative fuels project in Canada, which plans to produce fuel more efficiently (using a better source of waste – as they include wood “waste”). The Altalto projects hopes to be producing jet fuel within 5 years. The existence of the Humberside plant enabled Boris to claim Britain would be in the forefront of low carbon fuels etc (Britain always has to be on top …) Producing standard, high quality jet fuel from highly variable domestic waste is difficult. Other projects have not been a success. In 2017 the fuel project in Essex by Solena, to produce fuel for British Airways, was scrapped as Solena went bankrupt (presumably before producing any fuel). While the Canadian scheme plans to use over 200,000 tonnes of non-recyclable and wood waste annually to produce nearly 125m litres of fuel, the UK Altalto project would use 500,000 tonnes of waste to make 60m litres.
Aviation points, mainly on future “Sustainable Aviation Fuels” from Boris’ 10-point plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution”
Date added: November 19, 2020
The Government has produced a new 10-point plan, “for a Green Industrial Revolution – Building back better, supporting green jobs, and accelerating our path to net zero.” Much is aimed at creating new jobs in new sectors. There is little about aviation, and nothing of much substance, except hopes for “sustainable aviation fuels” (SAF) for future use. It says government will put £15m into FlyZero – a 12-month study, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), into the strategic, technical and commercial issues in designing and developing zero-emission aircraft that could enter service in 2030. Also a £15m competition to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels production. They will establish a Sustainable Aviation Fuels clearing house to enable the UK to certify new fuels, driving innovation in this space. There will be a consultation in 2021 on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate to blend “greener” fuels into kerosene, which will create a market-led demand for these alternative fuels. The mandate would start in 2025. Government will invest in R&D for the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen aircraft. And there will be a consultation on an Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy in 2021.
Jet Zero Council had its first meeting on 22nd July – to bring aviation emissions in line with UK 2050 net-zero target
Date added: October 12, 2020
The Jet Zero Council held its first meeting, online, on 22nd July. Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is the only representative on the council, representing environmental issues. Government press release on the first meeting said: “Chaired by the Transport and Business Secretaries, today’s first ever Jet Zero council meeting will discuss how to decarbonise the aviation sector while supporting its growth and strengthening the UK’s position as a world leader in the sector.” And Grant Shapps said: “The Jet Zero Council is a huge step forward in making change – as we push forward with innovative technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and eventually fully electric planes, we will achieve guilt-free flying and boost sustainability for years to come.” … Producers of novel fuels are excited. … They all want lots of government money. Tim Johnson said: “It was a positive start, with an appropriate degree of ambition and urgency, a technology-neutral stance that will treat all options equally, and recognition that getting new technology and SAF into the fleet requires a regulatory framework that includes carbon pricing. That’s a good platform to work from.”
Shell has pulled out of the joint Altalto venture with British Airways and Velocys to build a plant in Immingham, Humberside to make “sustainable” jet fuels from non-recyclable household waste. There has been a lot of hype about novel fuels for aviation, and how they will help reduce the CO2 emissions from flights slightly – even while the sector stays the same size or grows. Shell will instead join a more lucrative fuels project in Canada, which plans to produce fuel more efficiently (using a better source of waste – as they include wood “waste”). The Altalto projects hopes to be producing jet fuel within 5 years. The existence of the Humberside plant enabled Boris to claim Britain would be in the forefront of low carbon fuels etc (Britain always has to be on top …) Producing standard, high quality jet fuel from highly variable domestic waste is difficult. Other projects have not been a success. In 2017 the fuel project in Essex by Solena, to produce fuel for British Airways, was scrapped as Solena went bankrupt (presumably before producing any fuel). While the Canadian scheme plans to use over 200,000 tonnes of non-recyclable and wood waste annually to produce nearly 125m litres of fuel, the UK Altalto project would use 500,000 tonnes of waste to make 60m litres. . Tweet
Shell pulls out of joint venture to build UK sustainable jet fuels plant
Withdrawal a blow to Boris Johnson’s desire for UK to achieve first zero-emission long-haul flight
Shell has pulled out of a joint venture with British Airways and Velocys to build a flagship sustainable jet fuels plant in the UK – in a blow to Boris Johnson’s claims that Britain could deliver the world’s first zero-emission long-haul flight.
The oil firm was named last year as one of the top companies set to “turbocharge government plans” for sustainable aviation fuels, the centrepiece of the so-called “jet zero” plan to decarbonise flights.
Shell said it would leave the Altalto project, to be built in Immingham, Humberside, days after the company agreed to join a project in Canada which plans to produce more than double the green fuel from less than half the waste.
Shell’s departure was by mutual consent, and the project would continue “according to its existing development plan”, the three parties behind the project said. Immingham could begin supplying its first aviation fuel from non-recyclable household waste within five years.
But Shell’s decision to exit the UK’s burgeoning green fuels industry is likely to compound scepticism over Johnson’s promise that Britain would be in the “vanguard of green innovation” by pioneering zero-emission transatlantic flight.
The departure comes after a number of false starts for BA’s plans for UK production of sustainable fuels. The airline shelved a proposed waste-to-fuel factory in Thurrock, Essex, which was due to open in 2017, blaming a lack of government support.
Shell’s head of new fuels, Matthew Tipper, said the oil company was “pursuing multiple opportunities across our global portfolio”.
“On this occasion, we have decided to focus our resources on other lower-carbon fuels opportunities which leverage our own technology. We will continue to work with the aviation industry and the UK government, as part of the jet zero council, to help decarbonise UK aviation,” he said.
Shell announced plans earlier this month to take a 40% interest in the Varennes Carbon Recycling project, the first waste-to-low-carbon-fuels plant in Quebec, which will use Montreal-based clean-tech company Enerkem’s proprietary technology.
The pair plan to treat more than 200,000 tonnes of non-recyclable and wood waste [fine if it is genuinely waste, but not fine if it involves cutting down whole trees – “roundwood” – as this is more lucrative and produces more energy than branches, twigs etc] annually to produce nearly 125m litres of low carbon fuels to help cut emissions from Canada’s transport industries. The UK’s Immingham Altalto project will use 500,000 tonnes of waste to make less than half the fuel, or 60m litres a year.
Velocys and BA said they had been in talks for several months with other potential sources of finance for the project, which was well placed to achieve significant government funding.
BA’s parent company, IAG, was the first airline group to pledge that its operations would become net zero by 2050, albeit largely through offsetting. BA’s chief executive, Sean Doyle, said: “Sustainable aviation fuel is vital to the decarbonisation of aviation and to helping us achieve our net zero target. We are excited to continue to work with Velocys, with the support of government and other private-sector partners.”
Velocys said it was looking forward to moving to the next stage of development this year. The chief executive, Henrik Wareborn, said: “Altalto Immingham is ready to take advantage of the strong push from both government and industry for the decarbonisation of aviation, especially using waste feedstocks.”
While manufacturers have said that hybrid-electric, or even hydrogen, short-haul commercial passenger jets could be feasible by 2035, long-haul net zero flights, if possible, are assumed to depend on sustainable jet fuels.
Natural England objects to proposed jet fuel from waste plant, backed by BA, Shell and Velocys
Date added: April 3, 2020
BA has been trying to get some jet fuel made from domestic waste that would otherwise go to landfill, so it can claim it is using “low carbon” fuels. There were plans for a plant in east London, by Solena, back in 2014 but that never got off the ground; Solena went bust in October 2015. Now BA and Shell and Velocys are hoping for a plant on an 80-acre site on Humberside, to convert waste that would go to landfill, into jet fuel. However, Natural England are worried it could harm local wildlife and have filed an objection. Velocys says the plant would turn household waste into 60 million litres of “low-carbon” jet fuel every year. The project is backed by £4.5m of investment from Shell and British Airways, alongside a £434,000 grant from the Department of Transport. In a letter dated 20 February 2020 Natural England said it objects to the development because trucks ferrying waste to the site could increase nitrogen oxide levels – which can cause serious health impacts for humans and wildlife. It is also concerned construction and waste from the site could disturb nearby habitats for rare birds. It is now for North East Lincolnshire Council to decide whether to approve the scheme.
Yet another “first” household & commercial waste to aviation fuel plant planning application – Velocys, Shell, BA
August 27, 2019
Altalto, a collaboration between Velocys, British Airways and Shell, has submitted a planning application for a plant that turns waste into so-called “sustainable” aviation fuel. The proposed plant near Grimsby would take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household and commercial solid waste destined for landfill or incineration. That would be converted into fuel, to be used by the aviation industry (some could be used for road vehicle fuels…). The scheme is claiming it would “reduce reduce net greenhouse gases by 70% compared to the fossil fuel equivalent.” The company says the fuel also improves air quality, with up to 90% reduction in particulate matter from aircraft engine exhausts and almost 100% reduction in sulphur oxides – but gives no explanation how. It also claims the process produces less air pollution that if the waste was incinerated or landfilled (but gives on details). Usual blurb from British Airways (desperate to try to make out that aviation will emit less CO2 in future, while continuing to grow) about “Sustainable fuels can be a game-changer for aviation…” blah blah… BA had proposed a similar plant in Essex which was cancelled due to lack of funding in 2016.
KLM and SkyNRG to open factory to produce “low carbon” jet fuel, mainly from “wastes”
May 29, 2019
Airlines are desperate to find some form of fuel that they can claim is “low carbon” and that does not have obviously negative environmental and social impacts. Finding these miracle fuels is the only way the industry could continue its rapid growth in fuel burn, for decades to come – in the face of the global climate emergency. Dutch airline KLM is keen to get “sustainable” aviation fuel (SAF), working with SkyNRG. They are hoping to use “regional waste and residue streams such as used cooking oil, coming predominantly from regional industries” as feedstock. A plant is being built, to be opened in 2022, making this fuel. KLM says: “From 2022, the plant will annually produce 100,000 tonnes of SAF …. It will mean a CO2 reduction of 270,000 tonnes a year for the aviation industry.” That number all depends on how it is measured – they are regarding this fuel as causing the emission of at least 85% less CO2 than conventional kerosene. (Is that realistic?) KLM says: “There will be absolutely no use of food crops, such as soya oil and palm oil (or by-products such as PFAD and POME), for production.” Biofuelwatch has calculated that using all tallow worldwide for biofuels could only supply 1.7% of global aviation fuel burned in 2016. Converting all Used Cooking Oil that can be realistically collected in the EU and USA would meet just 0.16% of US aviation fuel and 0,26% of EU aviation fuel use respectively.
Solena, the company meant to be producing jet fuel from London waste for BA, goes bankrupt
October 29, 2015
In February 2010 it was announced that British Airways had teamed up with American bioenergy company Solena Group to establish “Europe’s first” sustainable jet fuel plant, which was set to turn London’d domestic waste into aviation fuel. The plan was for BA to provide construction capital for a massive plant somewhere in East London. BA committed to purchasing all the jet fuel produced by the plant, around 16 million gallons a year, for the next 11 years at market competitive prices. BA had hoped that this 2% contribution to its fuel consumption – the equivalent to all its fuel use at London City airport – would give it green credibility, and it would claim it cut its carbon emissions. The timescale for the plant to be built kept slipping. Nothing has been heard of it for a long time. Now it has been announced that Solena has gone into bankruptcy in the USA. It was never clear why, if genuinely low carbon fuels could be produced from London’s waste, why these should not be used for essential vehicles in London – and why they would instead become a PR exercise for an airline. British Airways and the company Velocys are listed as creditors of Solena.
Climate Change Committee has published its guidance for the UK government on its Sixth Carbon Budget, for the period 2033 – 37, and how to reach net-zero by 2050. There is a great deal of detail, many documents, many recommendations – with plenty on aviation. The intention is for UK aviation to be net-zero by 2050, though the CCC note there are not yet proper aviation policies by the UK government to achieve this. International aviation must be included in the Sixth Carbon budget. If the overall aviation CO2 emissions can be reduced enough, it might be possible to have 25% more air passengers in 2050 than in 2018. The amount of low-carbon fuels has been increased from the CCC’s earlier maximum realistic estimates of 5-10%, up to perhaps 25% by 2050, with “just over two-thirds of this coming from biofuels and the remainder from carbon-neutral synthetic jet fuel …” Residual CO2 emissions will need to be removed from the air, and international carbon offsets are not permitted. There is an assumption of 1.4% efficiency improvement per year, or at the most 2.1%. There “should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory.” The role of non-CO2 is recognised, but not included in carbon budgets; its heating effect must not increase after 2050. And lots more … . Tweet
You can watch the CCC presentation – on Youtube – here
The main full report
The Sixth Carbon Budget – the road to UK’s Net Zero
Our recommended pathway requires a 78% reduction in UK territorial emissions between 1990 and 2035. In effect, bringing forward the UK’s previous 80% target by nearly 15 years.
The Sixth Carbon Budget can be met through four key steps:
1. Take up of low-carbon solutions. People and businesses will choose to adopt low-carbon solutions, as high carbon options are progressively phased out. By the early 2030s all new cars and vans and all boiler replacements in homes and other buildings are low-carbon – largely electric. By 2040 all new trucks are low-carbon. UK industry shifts to using renewable electricity or hydrogen instead of fossil fuels, or captures its carbon emissions, storing them safely under the sea.
2. Expansion of low-carbon energy supplies. UK electricity production is zero carbon by 2035. Offshore wind becomes the backbone of the whole UK energy system, growing from the Prime Minister’s promised 40GW in 2030 to 100GW or more by 2050. New uses for this clean electricity are found in transport, heating and industry, pushing up electricity demand by a half over the next 15 years, and doubling or even trebling demand by 2050. Low-carbon hydrogen scales-up to be almost as large, in 2050, as electricity production is today. Hydrogen is used as a shipping and transport fuel and in industry, and potentially in some buildings, as a replacement for natural gas for heating.
3. Reducing demand for carbon-intensive activities. The UK wastes fewer resources and reduces its reliance on high-carbon goods. Buildings lose less energy through a national programme to improve insulation across the UK. Diets change, reducing our consumption of high-carbon meat and dairy products by 20% by 2030, with further reductions in later years. There are fewer car miles travelled and demand for flights grows more slowly. These changes bring striking positive benefits for health and well-being.
4. Land and greenhouse gas removals. There is a transformation in agriculture and the use of farmland while maintaining the same levels of food per head produced today. By 2035, 460,000 hectares of new mixed woodland are planted to remove CO2 and deliver wider environmental benefits. 260,000 hectares of farmland shifts to producing energy crops. Woodland rises from 13% of UK land today to 15% by 2035 and 18% by 2050. Peatlands are widely restored and managed sustainably.
The CCC has 4 alternative pathways for the future. These are:
Balanced New Zero Pathway – their main one
also (depending on more or less innovation, and more or less behaviour change):
– Widespread engagement
– Widespread innovation
Possible future numbers of air passengers (they see 25% more than in 2018 as possible)
Number was about 292 million in 2018.
The CCC see number of Airport terminal passengers by 2050 (assuming net zero carbon emissions, by the various pathways – technology or less demand) as:
365m in Balanced Net Zero Pathway
365m in Headwinds
245m in Widespread Engagement
438m in Widespread Innovation
245m in Tailwinds
Some of the content on aviation and recommendations:
From the full report:
Aviation section P 176 – 181
Non-CO2 impacts P 372 – 375
Including aviation in the Sixth Carbon Budget P 418 – 423
Lots of recommendations dotted around from about P 420 onwards. Summary of recommendations from P442.
Some of the recommendations are:
We advise that IAS emissions should be included in the Sixth Carbon Budget.
The Committee recommends a Sixth Carbon Budget of 965 MtCO2e, including emissions from the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping (IAS).
We therefore conclude that IAS emissions should be included in carbon budgets as early as possible (see section 3), and certainly formally within the scope of the Sixth Carbon Budget and 2050 target. Alongside this, the UK should push for suitably strong international targets and mechanisms to deliver reductions in IAS emissions.
The Committee therefore do not currently recommend inclusion of non-CO2 effects of aviation or shipping within the budgets.
We recommend that engineered CO2 removal is allowed to contribute to meeting UK carbon targets under the Climate Change Act.
Our recommendation is that the Government should not expect or plan to use international credits to meet the Sixth Carbon Budget – the recommended budget should be considered a minimum UK contribution through domestic action.
Any use of international credits (whether purchased by the Government or UK companies) should be additional to the domestic effort of the Sixth Carbon Budget, to support the global effort to reduce emissions.
For now, the Committee’s recommendation on credits within CORSIA is the same as for other credits – they should not be used to meet UK carbon budgets
We recommend that the UK NDC is set to require at least a 68% reduction in emissions from 1990 to 2030 on a basis that excludes emissions from international aviation and international shipping, in line with UN convention. A clear commitment should also be made to tackle IAS emissions:
We therefore recommend that, as a rule, outperformance of carbon budgets is not carried forward to subsequent periods.
Following this advice, the Government must set the Sixth Carbon Budget in law by the end of June 2021. This must be followed, as soon as is practicable, by a set of policies and proposals to meet the budget. We recommend that both these steps are taken without delay, in the first half of 2021.
Recommendations on inclusion of international aviation in the Sixth Carbon Budget (2033 – 37)
They say IAS should be included in the Sixth Carbon Budget and P149 link :
“Inclusion of IAS is manageable. While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) treats emissions from international aviation and international shipping separately from emissions solely within country borders, allocating these emissions to countries presents no fundamentally greater challenges than for other sectors already included in UK emissions targets:
– Emissions are already estimated and reported to the UN and can be included in UK emissions targets on the same basis. The uncertainty attached to estimates of IAS emissions is no higher than for other sectors covered by carbon budgets (Box 10.1).
– While careful policy design is necessary to avoid simply pushing emissions abroad, such considerations also apply to sectors already covered by carbon budgets (e.g. manufacturing and agriculture).
– Inclusion in the UK carbon budgets does not preclude exclusion in communications to the UN, as we recommend for the UK’s 2030 NDC.
On demand management they say:
The Balanced Net Zero Pathway does allow for some limited growth in aviation demand over the period to 2050, but considerably less than a ‘business as usual’ baseline. We allow for a 25% in growth by 2050 compared to 2018 levels, whereas the baseline reflects unconstrained growth of around 65% over the same period. We assume that, unlike in the baseline, this occurs without any net increase in UK airport capacity, so that any expansion is balanced by reductions in capacity elsewhere in the UK.”
The “Widespread Innovation” pathway has a greater contribution from technological performance, both in terms of improved efficiency (2.1% per annum) and the contribution of sustainable aviation fuels. By 2050, around a quarter of fuel use is biofuel, with a further quarter carbon-neutral synthetic jet fuel. These technical improvements lead to a lower carbon-intensity and lower cost of aviation, although demand in this scenario is considerably higher, reaching 50% above 2018 levels by 2050 (in line with the Climate Assembly UK’s ‘technological change’ scenario). Emissions in 2050 are 15 MtCO2e, 63% below 2018 levels.
One of the report’s authors, Piers Forster, on demand management: CCC recommend demand measures such as carbon pricing, fuel levy or VAT. We also say non-CO2 warming should be capped at least at 2050 levels for better. And no net airport expansion without outperformance. And a frequent flier tax – probably the best option and supported by Climate Assembly.
On “sustainable aviation fuels” they say:
[The CCC has previously said 5% or at the most 10% SAF by 2050].
P 176 “Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) contribute 25% of liquid fuel consumed in 2050, with just over two-thirds of this coming from biofuels* and the remainder from carbon-neutral synthetic jet fuel (produced via direct air capture of CO2 combined with low-carbon hydrogen, with 75% of this synthetic jet fuel assumed to be made in the UK and the rest imported).”
“Biojet. Solid biomass feedstocks are gasified then converted into aviation biofuel, with CCS. Starting from the mid-2020s, this route ramps-up to meet 11% of aviation fuel demand by 2050. In addition, waste fats/oils are converted into biojet, with a transition from biodiesel in the 2030s, with their use alongside limited biojet imports ultimately meeting 6% of aviation demand by 2050.”
One reason for the higher use of biofuels suggested in this report is that electrification of road vehicles has advanced even faster than anticipated. So there is less need to reserve liquid fuels for them, and a higher proportion of biofuels could be used for the aviation sector (not much more biofuel produced overall).
The CCC separates aviation CO2 and non-CO2 impacts. The latter cause important short term warming. This has previously been ignored by governments. It now has to be taken into account. The aim is no extra non-CO2 heating from aviation by 2050.
“For consistency with the Net Zero target, under which UK GHG emissions are reduced to Net Zero to stop contributing to further increases in global temperature by 2050, UK aviation non-CO2 effects should also target stopping contributing to further increases in global temperature by this same date. Without the development of mitigation options for these non-CO2 effects, this would require year-on-year demand growth to be reduced to essentially zero by or before 2050.”
But because of uncertainties they say
“The Committee therefore do not currently recommend inclusion of non-CO2 effects of aviation or shipping within the budgets.”
On failings in government policy on aviation the CCC say;
“Although the UK aviation industry has committed to a Net Zero goal for 2050 this is not yet a policy goal for Government. Higher-level strategic gaps include the lack of formal inclusion of international emissions in UK carbon budgets & the Net Zero target, and the need for a sector emissions trajectory to inform demand management and airport capacity policies. Further research is also needed on non-CO2 effects and potential mitigation options.”
Formally include International Aviation emissions within UK climate targets when setting the Sixth Carbon Budget.
Work with ICAO to set a long-term goal for aviation consistent with the Paris Agreement, strengthen the CORSIA scheme and align CORSIA to this long-term goal.
Commit to a Net Zero goal for UK aviation as part of the forthcoming Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy, with UK international aviation reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and domestic aviation potentially earlier. Plan for residual emissions, after efficiency, low -carbon fuels and demand-side measures, to be offset by verifiable greenhouse gas removals, on a sector net emissions trajectory to Net Zero.
There should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is on track to sufficiently outperform its net emissions trajectory and can accommodate the additional demand.
Monitor non-CO2 effects of aviation, set a minimum goal of no further warming after 2050, research mitigation options, and consider how best to tackle non-CO2 effects alongside UK climate targets without increasing CO2 emissions.
Longer-term, support for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) should transition to a more bespoke policy, such as a blending mandate. However, near-term construction of commercial SAF facilities in the UK still needs to be supported.
Continue innovation and demonstration support for SAF technologies, aircraft efficiency measures, hybrid, full electric and hydrogen aircraft development and airspace modernisation.
The CCC’s comments on annual expected efficiency improvement:
Efficiency improvements. [in their Balanced Net Zero Pathway]. “The fuel efficiency per passenger of aviation is assumed to improve at 1.4% per annum, compared to 0.7% per annum in the baseline. This includes 9% of total aircraft distance in 2050 being flown by hybrid electric aircraft.” link
Higher efficiencies are assumed in other scenarios, up to 2.1% per year. P 179 of link
CCC comments on airport expansion
CCC say UK should: “Commit to a Net Zero goal for UK aviation as part of the forthcoming Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy, [expected early in 2021?] with UK international aviation reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and domestic aviation potentially earlier.” P 33 of link
The Government should assess its airport capacity strategy in the context of Net Zero and any lasting impacts on demand from COVID-19. Investments will need to be demonstrated to make economic sense in a Net Zero world and the transition towards it.
• Unless faster than expected progress is made on aircraft technology and SAF deployment, such that the sector is outperforming its trajectory to Net Zero, current planned additional airport capacity would require capacity restrictions placed on other airports.
• Going forwards, there should be no net expansion of UK airport capacity unless the sector is assessed as being on track to sufficiently outperform a net emissions trajectory that is compatible with achieving Net Zero alongside the rest of the economy, and is able to accommodate the additional demand and still stay on track.
Furthermore, the reliance only on natural removals to offset remaining positive emissions (e.g. in agriculture) means that staying at Net Zero after 2050 would require ever increasing natural carbon stocks (e.g. in forests and peatlands), requiring a slowly but ever-increasing area of the UK to be devoted to sequestration. Overall, this supports our message that CCS is essential to achieving Net Zero, at lowest cost, in the UK. The importance of CCS globally further underscores the urgency of progressing CCS plans in the UK.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals, such as Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), Direct Air Capture of CO2 with storage (DACCS) and increased use of Wood in Construction will be required to permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere, in order to offset remaining residual emissions in the UK and achieve Net Zero by 2050. As set out in Chapter 1, our scenarios aim to reduce emissions where decarbonisation solutions exist, and minimise the need for removals.
And there is so much more !
Thread of tweets from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF): @the_AEF
9th December 2020
1/12 @theCCCuk report out today on the recommended level of the 6th carbon budget (2033-37) also makes detailed recommendations on the pathway to net zero by 2050 or earlier, including for aviation “one of the most thorny topics”, according to @ChiefExecCCC #UKCarbonBudget
2/12 From 2033, emissions from international aviation and shipping (IAS) should be formally included in UK climate law, says the CCC. Until now emissions from these sectors have been ‘allowed for’ but not capped. Emissions from flying were, pre-pandemic, rising without penalty.
3/12 Given limits to the options for decarbonising aviation, flying is named as one of the ‘high carbon activities’, alongside meat consumption and driving, where we need to see behaviour change as well as a shift of energy supply and use of ‘greenhouse gas removals’.
4/12 CCC’s recommended ‘balanced pathway’ allows for 25% growth (above 2018 levels) in demand for flying by 2050. Though a reduction in demand growth accounts for the biggest wedge of the anticipated aviation emissions cut to 2050.
5/12 Compared to earlier modelling, CCC has ramped up its assumptions on sustainable aviation fuels which it now assumes to be 25% of total fuels by 2050 (2/3 biofuels, 1/3 synthetic jet fuel produced via direct air capture of CO2).
6/12 23 Mt of CO2 remain from aviation by 2050, which would need to be balanced by carbon removals, says the CCC, though how these would be paid for (whether by airlines or Govt) is not spelled out. Other scenarios in which, for example, demand is lower, are also considered.
6/12 23 Mt of CO2 remain from aviation by 2050, which would need to be balanced by carbon removals, says the CCC, though how these would be paid for (whether by airlines or Govt) is not spelled out. Other scenarios in which, for example, demand is lower, are also considered. pic.twitter.com/JLSeWZvHBl
7/12 There should be no net increase in airport expansion to limit demand growth, says CCC. This is the strongest line it’s adopted on this issue.
Expansion can only be justified if matched by ‘restrictions’ at other airports or industry outperforms on ambitious pathway assumed.
8/12 “If efficiency or SAF do not develop as expected, further demand management will be required”, CCC says. “Demand management framework will therefore need to be developed and in place by mid-2020s to annually assess, and if required, act as a backstop to control [emissions].”
9/12 Non-CO2 impacts require further assessment, says CCC, before appropriate measures are put in place to tackle them, but “as a minimum goal, there should be no additional non-CO2 warming from aviation after 2050.”
10/12 Finally, what about offsetting? The Government and industry have often argued aviation emissions should be tackled by way of the UN Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
11/12 UK should work with @icao to strengthen CORSIA scheme, says CCC, but as it currently represents “an insufficient contribution to goals of Paris Agreement”, CORSIA credits “should not be used to meet UK carbon budgets.” This is a strong – and v important – recommendation.
12/12 Our press release, focussing on the airport expansion recommendation of @theCCCuk ‘s report on the recommended level of the 6th carbon budget, can be read here Right pointing backhand index https://aef.org.uk/2020/12/09/stop-airport-expansions-to-help-reach-net-zero-emissions-say-governments-official-climate-advisors/ #UKCarbonBudget
The Government has produced a new 10-point plan, “for a Green Industrial Revolution – Building back better, supporting green jobs, and accelerating our path to net zero.” Much is aimed at creating new jobs in new sectors. There is little about aviation, and nothing of much substance, except hopes for “sustainable aviation fuels” (SAF) for future use. It says government will put £15m into FlyZero – a 12-month study, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), into the strategic, technical and commercial issues in designing and developing zero-emission aircraft that could enter service in 2030. Also a £15m competition to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels production. They will establish a Sustainable Aviation Fuels clearing house to enable the UK to certify new fuels, driving innovation in this space. There will be a consultation in 2021 on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate to blend “greener” fuels into kerosene, which will create a market-led demand for these alternative fuels. The mandate would start in 2025. Government will invest in R&D for the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen aircraft. And there will be a consultation on an Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy in 2021. . Tweet
“Green Industrial Revolution – Building back better, supporting green jobs, and accelerating our path to net zero”
18.11.2020 – Government announcement
The Prime Minister’s 10 point plan is now available here:
Point 1. Advancing Offshore Wind Point 2. Driving the Growth of Low Carbon Hydrogen Point 3. Delivering New and Advanced Nuclear Power Point 4. Accelerating the Shift to Zero Emission Vehicles Point 5. Green Public Transport, Cycling and Walking Point 6. Jet Zero and Green Ships Point 7. Greener Buildings Point 8. Investing in Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage Point 9. Protecting Our Natural Environment Point 10. Green Finance and Innovation
Key aviation commitments:
1) £15m into FlyZero – a 12-month study, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), into the strategic, technical and commercial issues in designing and developing zero-emission aircraft that could enter service in 2030.
2) £15m competition to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels production.
3)Establish a Sustainable Aviation Fuels clearing house to enable the UK to certify new fuels, driving innovation in this space.
4) A consultation in 2021 on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate to blend greener fuels into kerosene, which will create a market-led demand for these alternative fuels. Mandate to start in 2025.
5) Invest in R&D into the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen aircraft.
6) Consultation on Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy in 2021.
We will position the UK at the forefront of aviation and maritime technology to push forward low carbon travel and build on UK strengths. By taking immediate steps to drive the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels, investments in R&D to develop zero-emission aircraft and developing the infrastructure of the future at our airports and seaports – we will make the UK the home of green ships and planes. Internationally, we will continue to lead efforts to find solutions to global aviation and maritime emissions, including using our COP Presidency to develop a sector-led goal.
A century ago, a Mancunian and a Glaswegian completed the first non-stop transatlantic flight and created civil aviation. Fast-forward to September 2020 when the first commercial aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell took off in Cranfield. British innovation will unlock the world of sustainable fuels, turning these fossil fuel intensive journeys into lower carbon routes of transportation that allow the opportunity of global travel whilst also safeguarding our planet. To achieve this, we have established the Jet Zero Council as a sector-wide partnership to accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies to help develop our strategy to reach net zero aviation, which we will set out next year. We are investing £15 million into FlyZero – a 12-month study, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), into the strategic, technical and commercial issues in designing and developing zero-emission aircraft that could enter service in 2030.
Moving to sustainable fuels is one of the key steps to success that we can unlock. We will run a £15 million competition to support the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) in the UK, building on the success of the Future, Fuels for Freight and Flight Competition. We will establish a SAF clearing house, the first of its kind in Europe, to enable the UK to certify new fuels, driving innovation in this space. Alongside this, we intend to consult on a Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate to blend greener fuels into kerosene, which will create a market-led demand for these alternative fuels. To support the emergence of a market in zero emission aircraft we will invest in R&D into the infrastructure upgrades required at UK airports to move to battery and hydrogen aircrafts.
The UK has a strong history in shipbuilding, with the maritime sector employing 185,000 people. To complement our work on aviation, we will invest £20 million into the Clean Maritime Demonstration Programme to develop clean maritime technology. We are already running hydrogen ferry trials in Orkney and due to launch a hydrogen refuelling port in Teesside, as we seek to revitalise our ports and coastal communities.
Taking action on net zero aviation and green ships could deliver…
Up to 5,200 jobs supported by a domestic SAF industry
Future proofing the aerospace industry which is worth £12bn to the economy
Savings of up to 1MtCO2e by 2032 from clean maritime and
nearly 15MtCO2e by 2050 from SAF
• These measures will enable the production of sustainable aviation fuels in the UK, supporting industry and driving fuel uptake.
• Our action will cement our position as a global leader in aerospace, (worth £12 billion to the UK economy), and position the UK at the forefront of the zero-emission aircraft revolution.
2021. We will consult on the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy.
2025. We will consult on a SAF mandate and run a £15 million competition for fuel plants in 2021, with a mandate possibly starting in 2025
Comment by an AirportWatch member:
This lacks any policies to reduce aviation carbon emissions or hold the industry to account – it is just some funding initiatives and aspiration that SAF will be successful.
It is hoped that there will be more in terms of policy, (a DfT transport decarbonisation plan in December) and more on aviation restart and recovery policy, due to the Covid pandemic,. There may also be an aviation net zero consultation in 2021, though whether that will contain anything of substance is anyone’s guess.
The CCC will be making new aviation recommendations alongside their 6th carbon budget recommendation in December.
The Jet Zero Council held its first meeting, online, on 22nd July. Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) is the only representative on the council, representing environmental issues. Government press release on the first meeting said: “Chaired by the Transport and Business Secretaries, today’s first ever Jet Zero council meeting will discuss how to decarbonise the aviation sector while supporting its growth and strengthening the UK’s position as a world leader in the sector.” And Grant Shapps said: “The Jet Zero Council is a huge step forward in making change – as we push forward with innovative technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and eventually fully electric planes, we will achieve guilt-free flying and boost sustainability for years to come.” … Producers of novel fuels are excited. … They all want lots of government money. Tim Johnson said: “It was a positive start, with an appropriate degree of ambition and urgency, a technology-neutral stance that will treat all options equally, and recognition that getting new technology and SAF into the fleet requires a regulatory framework that includes carbon pricing. That’s a good platform to work from.” . Tweet
Jet Zero Council
The Jet Zero Council (JZC) is a partnership between industry and government to bring together ministers and chief executive officer-level stakeholders to drive the ambitious delivery of new technologies and innovative ways to cut aviation emissions.
The JZC will focus on developing UK capabilities to deliver net zero-emission commercial flight by:
developing and industrialising zero-emission aviation and aerospace technologies
establishing UK production facilities for sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and commercialising the industry by driving down production costs
developing a coordinated approach to the policy and regulatory framework needed to deliver net zero aviation by 2050
The objectives of the JZC are to:
provide ministerial and senior industry leadership on efforts to deliver UK capabilities for net zero aviation
identify and optimise the strategic, economic and international benefits of developing these industries in the UK, and overcome the barriers industry face in achieving these goals
accelerate the design, manufacture, testing, certification, infrastructure and commercial operation of zero emission aircraft and aviation systems in the UK through sustained investment in applied research and development (R&D) and fostering greater collaboration across sectors
accelerate the delivery of SAF by supporting the investment in first-of-a-kind SAF plants, supporting research and development of new pathways and driving down production costs through upscaling and innovation
support grassroots innovation in these areas and make the UK the best place in the world to develop new aviation technology
challenge existing approaches by involving disruptors and innovators in the dialogue
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Transport Secretary Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Business Secretary
Robert Courts MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Rachel Maclean MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Nadhim Zahawi MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Paul Stein, Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce Julie Kitcher, Executive Vice President, Airbus Tony Wood, Chief Executive Officer, Meggitt and ADS President Russ Dunn, Chief Technology Officer, GKN Val Miftakhov, Chief Executive Officer, ZeroAvia Peter Mather, Senior Vice President, Europe and Head of Country, UK, bp plc Anna Mascolo, Chief Executive Officer, Shell Global Aviation Neville Hargreaves, Vice President, Waste to Fuels, Velocys Nina Skorupska CBE REA, The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology Dr Jennifer Holmgren, Chief Executive Officer, Lanzatech Alex Cruz, Chief Executive Officer, British Airways [now left. Perhaps Sean Doyle?] Shai Weiss, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Atlantic Johan Lundgren, Chief Executive Officer, easyjet Jonathan Hinkles, Chief Executive Officer, LoganAir Dawn Wilson, Managing Director, TUI Airways John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive Officer, Heathrow Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive Officer, MAG Dom Hallas, Executive Director, Coadec Jacqueline de Rojas, President, Tech UK Simon Crabtree, Investment Manager, Mercia Asset Management Tim Johnson, Director, AEF Gary Elliot, Aerospace Technology Institute Dr Alicia Greated, Chief Executive Officer, Knowledge Transfer Network Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace, Cranfield University Professor Peter Littlewood, Executive Chairman, Faraday Institution Kyle Martin, Vice President, European Affairs, GAMA Trevor Woods, independent consultant
Government announce a new “Jet Zero” council … but no details or notice to environmental organisations
June 17, 2020
In a surprise announcement at Friday’s government Covid-19 daily briefing, Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, revealed plans for a ‘jet zero’ council, that will include representatives from the aviation industry, Government and environmental groups. Its alleged goal is “to make zero emissions transatlantic flight possible within a generation.” No further details were made available. No environmental group was given any notice about this new initiative. As the principal environmental body working on aviation issues, the AEF (Aviation Environment Federation) should have been included, if the government initiative was serious – not just a bit of nice publicity for the aviation sector. AEF has written to Shapps, to say that if the ‘jet zero’ council is to be a worthwhile initiative, the Government must ensure that it does not simply provide good PR for airlines and airports about a future aspiration – while allowing current emissions to grow unhindered. The initiative must be part of a wider programme of government action to deliver the UK’s climate commitments. The council must operate in a transparent manner including engaging with environmental organisations and all relevant stakeholders. To read the letter in full, click here.
Airbus has been publicising its hopes to have hydrogen-fuelled passenger planes in service within 20 years. Apart from the technical problems of how to store liquid or compressed hydrogen on a plane, and how to transport it etc, there is the massive problem of the energy it would take to generate the vast amount of hydrogen that would be needed. Currently there is “blue” hydrogen, which is generated from fossil fuels, and the production of which emits carbon (unless and until there is CCS to store that CO2 underground) or “green” hydrogen, which would be produced using low carbon electricity, from wind farms etc. Currently there is almost no “green” hydrogen. There are claims that burning hydrogen at high altitude would not cause the emission of soot particles, so contrails might form less than conventional jet kerosene. It would certainly produce water vapour. The necessary atmospheric research studies probably have not been done, at scale. Hydrogen, like electric planes and wonderful zero carbon fuels, are the hopes of the sector – that their climate problem can be (improbably) solved. Meanwhile Airbus’ CEO announced it is in danger of collapse, due to Covid, and it needs to cut 15,000 jobs, or more than 11% of the group’s workforce. . Tweet
Airbus looks to the future with hydrogen planes
21 September 2020 (BBC)
Aerospace giant Airbus has unveiled plans for what it hailed as the first commercial zero-emission aircraft.
The company said its hydrogen-fuelled passenger planes could be in service by 2035.
Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said the three ZEROe concept designs marked “a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector”.
The use of hydrogen had “the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact”, he added.
The concept of emissions-free aviation relies heavily on finding ways to produce large quantities of hydrogen from renewable or low-carbon sources.
Most large-scale production at the moment relies on fossil fuels, particularly methane, and is not considered to be low-carbon.
Analysts point out that it is not the first time that hydrogen has been touted as the saviour of modern air travel..
Its use in aviation goes back to the days of airships in the early 20th Century, but the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 brought that era to an end.
More recently, from 2000 to 2002, Airbus was involved in the EU-funded Cryoplane project, which studied the feasibility of a liquid hydrogen-fuelled aircraft.
After that, the idea fell out of favour again – until now.
‘Decisive action’ Unveiling its latest blueprints, Airbus said its turbofan design could carry up to 200 passengers more than 2,000 miles, while a turboprop concept would have a 50% lower capacity and range.
A third, “blended-wing body” aircraft was the most eye-catching of the three designs.
All three planes would be powered by gas-turbine engines modified to burn liquid hydrogen, and through hydrogen fuel cells to create electrical power.
However, Airbus admitted that for the idea to work, airports would have to invest large sums of money in refuelling infrastructure.
“The transition to hydrogen, as the primary power source for these concept planes, will require decisive action from the entire aviation ecosystem,” said Mr Faury.
“Together with the support from government and industrial partners, we can rise up to this challenge to scale up renewable energy and hydrogen for the sustainable future of the aviation industry.”
The new Airbus designs are the fruit of a joint research project that Airbus launched with EasyJet last year to consider hybrid and electric aircraft.
The airline’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “EasyJet remains absolutely committed to more sustainable flying and we know that technology is where the answer lies for the industry.”
Like nearly every other company in the industry, Airbus faces the prospect of major staffing cuts within its organization. While the group hopes to minimize involuntary cuts, a letter from CEO Guillaume Faury to Airbus’ 130,000 employees suggests that as many as 15,000 roles will be removed. An Airbus spokesperson confirmed that a letter was sent “to ensure transparency and share information with our global workforce,” but declined to comment on the contents of the message. French union officials accused Airbus of stirring up troubles in advance of additional negotiations scheduled in the coming weeks.
Airbus in danger of going under, says chief executive
By Robert Lea, Industrial Editor Wednesday September 23 2020, The Times
Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer that employs and indirectly supports tens of thousands of jobs in British aerospace factories, is in danger of collapse, its chief executive said.
Speaking yesterday to the French media, Guillaume Faury said: “The crisis is existential. Our life as a business is potentially at risk if we don’t take the right measures.”
He added: “The situation is so serious, and we are faced with so much uncertainty, that I think no one can guarantee there won’t be compulsory redundancies if we’re to adapt to the situation, especially if it evolves further.”
Mr Faury said the shutdown of aviation markets meant that Airbus needed to cut a total of 15,000 jobs, or more than 11 per cent of the group’s workforce. In the UK Airbus said it needed to cut 1,700 jobs, 12 per cent of its 13,500-strong workforce, much of that in the group’s wing factory at Broughton in north Wales.
Many of those workers have spent the summer on the government’s furlough scheme. The knock-on effect has been felt at Rolls-Royce, an Airbus engine supplier, which is cutting thousands of jobs.
Compulsory redundancies would play very badly in France and Germany, where about 10,000 jobs will go, plus 900 in Spain and a further 1,300 around the world where Airbus has operations in the US and China.
The crisis has led to it halving production of the world’s bestselling short-haul aircraft, the A320, and the popular long-haul A350.
Mr Faury, 52, said that the issue was not that airlines were cancelling orders, but “airlines aren’t taking deliveries”.
Fossil fuel companies ‘misleading’ prime minister on green hydrogen
By Oliver Wright, Policy Editor (The Times) September 24 2020
Boris Johnson is being misled by Britain’s multibillion-pound fossil fuel lobby into backing climate change policies that risk unnecessarily pushing up energy bills and undermining carbon targets, leading scientists warn today.
Over the last year dozens of energy supply firms, including Shell and BP, have joined forces to push the government to commit to hydrogen as the key element of its target for the UK to be carbon neutral by 2050.
More than 60 MPs and peers have endorsed the industry’s case while the government has appointed the head of Shell in the UK as co-chairman of its hydrogen advisory council. Mr Johnson is reported to believe that hydrogen can be at the forefront of the government’s “green revolution”, heating homes and powering transport.
The campaign has led to warnings from independent energy experts that Downing Street is falling for “hype” and risks jeopardising the 2050 target while leaving consumers with a multibillion-pound bill to subsidise the changes.
In a letter to The Times today David Cebon, professor of engineering at Cambridge University, said that hydrogen was far from a silver bullet.
“Much scientific evidence shows that widespread adoption of hydrogen (instead of electricity) for heating and heavy vehicles would be detrimental to the UK’s economy, its energy security and its decarbonisation commitments,” he wrote. “Given that the fossil fuel industry’s preferred . . . solution would involve significantly increased natural gas consumption, it is not surprising that it is busy lobbying governments around the world for hydrogen.”
The industry is urging the government to utilise the natural gas distribution network to supply “green” hydrogen fuel to homes and businesses. At the same time, they are lobbying for hydrogen to be a key component of the transport network, particularly for buses and long distance freight lorries where electric battery technology is not practical at present.
Experts say, however, that creating truly green hydrogen fuel from water is an incredibly energy intensive and expensive process. They calculate that, using present technology, it would take an onshore wind farm covering 18,000 sq km to produce enough electricity to create green hydrogen to power all the UK’s long distance lorries.
In the interim, industry lobbyists argue that the UK could use “blue hydrogen” created from natural gas. This produces carbon dioxide, which supporters of hydrogen suggest could be captured and stored. Critics point out that carbon capture and storage has never been successfully deployed.
Hydrogen gas would also, at present rates, be about twice as expensive as natural gas, leading to higher bills for consumers or taxpayer subsidies.
Richard Lowes, a research fellow at Exeter University’s energy policy group, said he was “deeply concerned” that the government might commit to an unproven technology. He said he feared the push for hydrogen was “just a delaying tactic by the gas industry”.
A Shell spokesman said: “The UK will need to apply a wide range of technologies to deliver on its net-zero target of 2050, hydrogen included.”