26 May 2021, 13:27
Charlotte Nijhuis

Aviation sector needs very high share of sustainable fuels to reverse trend of rising CO2 emissions - report

Clean Energy Wire

The aviation sector requires a very high fleet-wide blending rate sustainable fuels in order to reverse the trend of rising CO2 emissions as the sector continues to grow, says the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). A DLR report examined the expected emissions developments in two scenarios, looking at aircraft technology, air traffic management, and sustainable fuels. Only in the case of accelerated development of alternative fuels concepts and blending rates of sustainable fuels of 15 percent by 2030 and as much as 80 percent by 2050 can the sector reverse the current trend of rising emissions by 2035, the authors write. "Our conservative scenario assumes a continued moderate technological development in aircrafts and flight management. As a result, climate-relevant emissions continue to rise due to the predicted growth in air traffic, despite efficiency improvements,” says DLR project leader Alexandra Leipold. “A progressive scenario with new technologies, processes and extensive use of sustainable fuels shows at least a path to reversing the trend in global aviation emissions despite growth,” she adds.

Markus Fischer, of the DLR, emphasises that the 2050 climate goal “cannot be reached according to the current state of research”. According to the authors, reversing the trend in emissions in the aviation sector is a “particular challenge” in view of the expected continued growth of the industry in the long term and the lasting negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In December of last year, the German aviation industry presented a joint master plan to bring air transport more in line with climate protection. The plan, presented by leading industry groups such as the German Aviation Association (BDL) and the Association of German Airlines (BDF), commits companies in the sector to the goal of climate neutrality and sets out detailed measures that can reduce emissions. The industry sees the greatest leverage in replacing older aircraft with more energy-efficient ones, though these efforts have largely come to a standstill as a result of the pandemic. Earlier this month, German federal and state governments and industrial leaders agreed on a roadmap aimed at establishing climate-friendly power-to-liquid (PtL) aviation fuel production.

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