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Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 19-May-2022

Analysis

This regular CAPA report provides a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news. This latest issue features:

IATA: Global solution required to address 'huge gap' between sustainability goals and reality

Xiamen Airlines realises 45% fuel saving from participation in SkyTeam sustainable flight challenge

Newcastle International Airport contributes to reforestation project as part of zero emissions drive

Bremen Airport Hans Koschnick commences sustainable aviation fuel supply

UK DfT announces plans for transatlantic SAF demonstrator flight, support for UK SAF industry

This CAPA report features a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news, selected from the 300+ news alerts published daily by CAPA. For more information, please contact us.

IATA: Global solution required to address 'huge gap' between sustainability goals and reality

IATA reported (18-May-2022) the following highlights from its first Aviation Energy Forum held from 17-May-2022 to 19-May-2022:

  • Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) will be "vital" in achieving the goal of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. SAF is "a proven and scalable" option to reduce emissions. IATA stated: "The challenge now is to ramp up production and reduce prices enough to be competitive", adding: "Enabling policies and investments to ensure reliability of supply will be critical";
  • New propulsion systems, including electric and hydrogen, offer potentially significant reductions in CO2 emissions, but the technology "is still some way off";
  • The aviation industry must pursue innovation;
  • IATA commented: "There is a huge gap between where the industry wants to go and the reality it is facing. That is why a global level playing field on policies is so vital... a global industry requires a global solution". [more - original PR]

Original report: Energy Forum discusses major transition issues

Energy Forum discusses major transition issues

IATA’s Energy Forum brought together key stakeholders from across the world to discuss the energy transition challenges facing the industry and propose achievable solutions.

There is no doubt that aviation’s future lies in the ability to fly sustainably. Even though aviation is an instrument of trade, prosperity, and peace on a global scale, it has committed to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. It is the first industry to have a roadmap to achieve this aim.

Already, it is known that sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) will be vital. Though new propulsion systems, including electric and hydrogen, offer potentially significant reduction in CO2, the technology is still some way off.

Various panels and speakers at the Forum therefore confirmed that aviation must pursue innovation where it exists—and SAF are a proven and scalable way to get to reduce emissions

Every single drop of SAF produced last year was used by airlines around the world. The challenge now is to ramp up production and reduce prices enough to be competitive.

Enabling policies and investments to ensure reliability of supply will be critical. The truth is that there is a huge gap between where the industry wants to go and the reality it is facing. That is why a global level playing field on policies is so vital. In essence, a global industry requires a global solution. Cooperation at all levels  and from all corners of the globe will ensure adequate investments, stability of supply, and production improvements.

The task ahead is huge, and no airline, supplier or government can do it alone.

A report by Sebastian Mikosz, IATA’s SVP, Environment and Sustainability, can be found here.

Xiamen Airlines realises 45% fuel saving from participation in SkyTeam sustainable flight challenge

Xiamen Airlines, via its official Twitter account, stated (16-May-2022) it achieved 45% less fuel cost during its two participating flights as part of the SkyTeam 'sustainable flight challenge'.

Xiamen Airlines was the only airline from mainland China among 17 airline participants.

Newcastle International Airport contributes to reforestation project as part of zero emissions drive

Newcastle International Airport planted (18-May-2022) over 8300 trees on airport land as part of its membership of the North East Community Forest Project.

Chief sustainability and communications officer Graeme Mason said: "The planting of these trees on airport land will work to harness carbon from the atmosphere for many years to come, as well as providing more green canopy and woodland areas for the North East".

The initiative forms part of the airport's roadmap to reaching net zero emissions by 2035, with other projects including the development of a solar farm and upgrading its vehicle fleet to 100% electric models. [more - original PR]

Original report: Newcastle International Airport plants over 8,300 trees to create new woodland areas

The North East’s largest Airport has planted over 8,300 trees as part of its membership of the North East Community Forest Project as well as to support the business’ stretching environmental targets. 

The North East Community Forest is a 30 year, multi-million pound project that will see tens of thousands of trees planted across Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham.

Helping to tackle climate change and support regeneration, the project plans to plant up to 500 hectares of trees by 2025, with a long-term goal to increase canopy cover across the North East by 30% before 2050 – almost double the current national average.

The new 5.77 hectare woodland area on Airport land, recently created with the help of the UK’s leading woodland creating and forest management company Tillhill, is one of the largest of the 25 North East Community Forest areas to be created in the 2021/22 planting season.

The trees, which are protected against rabbits by spirals during the establishment period, include eleven different broadleaf variations including silver birch, sycamore, hornbeam, poplar and white willow. This species mix was selected to minimise bird hazards, with the mix also helping to create ecological benefits through the provision of new habitat, carbon sequestration and landscape enhancement. The project is encircled by deer-proof fencing and includes the replacement of any failed trees at the end of years one and two.

Graeme Mason, Chief Sustainability and Communications Officer at Newcastle Airport said “Being a good neighbour is extremely important to us and progressing with our Net Zero 2035 ambitions is one of our main objectives in the coming years.“

“The planting of these trees on Airport land will work to harness carbon from the atmosphere for many years to come, as well as providing more green canopy and woodland areas for the North East.”

Tilhill’s Business Development Manager for England and Chartered Forester, Simon Marrington said: “This new woodland is the start of a much larger scheme to provide increased woodland cover in the North of England which seamlessly fits with the local character. The new woodland will form part of the newly created North East Community Forest bringing a range of benefits to local communities.

“The creation of the forest will provide local jobs, bring people closer to nature, reduce flooding, provide wildlife habitat, and sequester tonnes of carbon. We are excited to be part of such an important opportunity to help meet the UK’s planting target and help Newcastle Airport achieve its net zero ambitions.”

Cllr Nick Kemp, leader elect of Newcastle City Council, the lead authority for the Newcastle Community Forest Project said: “Tackling climate change is one of our key priorities and it is only by working with our partners such as Newcastle International Airport that we will be able to meet our net zero targets and create more sustainable communities.

“Through the North East Community Forest we have made great strides to improve our natural environment and in years to come these new woodlands will create new habitats for wildlife, improve air quality, reduce the risk of flooding and make a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

“We look forward to continue working with all our partners and building upon the great work we have achieved already to create greener and healthier places for us all to live, work in and visit.”

Cllr Tracy Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council and Lead of the LA7 local authority shareholders, said: “It is fantastic that Newcastle International Airport is leading the way among UK and European Airport’s with its Net Zero 2035 strategy.

“The Airport’s Net Zero strategy aligns closely with the ambitions of our local councils and combined authorities to be a low carbon region. The North East Community Forest project and the Airport’s tree planting scheme is a fantastic initiative that will contribute to this ambition.”

Alongside the Community Forest Project, the new woodland area also supports the Airport’s ambitious Net Zero 2035 strategy. As part of the environmental roadmap, Newcastle International is undertaking a number of largescale initiatives to ensure the business hits the stretching target.

This includes the development of a Solar Farm on Airport land that will aim to supply 100% of the business’ electricity requirements by renewable means. The solar farm development area also includes additional green enhancements made up of new trees, hedgerows and wildflower meadows.

Alongside the Solar Farm, the Net Zero 2035 roadmap will also include upgrading the Airport’s fleet of vehicles to 100% electric models, the first step of this initiative saw the Airport purchase the UK’s first fully electric airside bus in 2020.

Passengers using the Airport’s car parks now also have the option to donate 5p or 10p to offset the carbon emitted on their journey’s to and from the Airport. The donated funds will support additional tree planting on Airport land, which will harvest even more carbon from the environment.

The tree planting project is expected to be fully complete by the year 2025.

Bremen Airport Hans Koschnick commences sustainable aviation fuel supply

Bremen Airport Hans Koschnick, via its official Facebook account, announced (11-May-2022) the commencement of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supply, with an Airbus Beluga aircraft the first to be refuelled using the solution.

The airport's green kerosene supply is produced in collaboration with World Fuel Services, and is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% over its life cycle.

UK DfT announces plans for transatlantic SAF demonstrator flight, support for UK SAF industry

UK's Department for Transport (DfT) announced (14-May-2022) plans to deliver the first net zero emissions flight between the UK and US by the end of 2023.

The demonstrator flight will operate on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and will encourage development of a UK SAF industry, with projections stating the industry could support up to 5200 direct UK jobs and a further 13,600 through global exports, generating a p/a turnover of GBP2.3 billion by 2040.

DfT also stated the UK Government is exploring the implementation of a SAF mandate and plans to award GBP180 million in funding over the next three years to support development the industry.

The Government will also make GBP400 million of funding available in partnership with Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to encourage private sector investment in green technologies, through which UK SAF projects may seek additional capital.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated: "It’s crucial that we place sustainability at the heart of the aviation industry’s recovery from COVID-19 and I look forward to working with them on this challenge, which will lower the impact flying across the Atlantic has on the planet". [more - original PR]

Original report: First ever net zero transatlantic flight to take to the skies in 2023

Secretary of State for Transport announces plans for a net zero transatlantic flight while in US.

  • Transport Secretary pledges to deliver world’s first transatlantic flight fuelled purely by environmentally friendly aviation fuel by the end of next year
  • pioneering test flight will be supported by up to £1 million of competition funding and will increase understanding of commercial flights using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)
  • during a speech to industry leaders in the US, the Transport Secretary challenged the sector to deliver the net zero emissions flight between the UK and America, with the wider SAF industry potentially creating over 5,000 UK jobs

World’s first net-zero emissions transatlantic flight could be delivered by the UK government and industry as early as next year, ushering in a new era of guilt-free flying in the coming decades.

The pioneering flight, on an aircraft powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel, is expected to take off in 2023.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the ambitious challenge to industry during his visit to the US.

Meeting with airline executives, he invited the international sector to work closely with the UK government to deliver the demonstrator flight in 2023, paving the way for flights on the transatlantic route, and many more, to be powered solely by low-carbon fuel.

The announcement today (14 May 2022) underlines the government’s commitment to drive forward the sustainable aviation fuel industry, which has the potential to deliver significant carbon savings, improve domestic fuel security, support thousands of green jobs and put flying on a more sustainable path.

Industry estimates suggest that a UK sustainable aviation fuel industry could support up to 5,200 UK jobs directly, as well as a further 13,600 through global exports – helping to level up the UK and boost the economy. The industry estimates its annual turnover could reach £2.3 billion by 2040.

The new initiative has come out of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between industry and government that aims to deliver new technologies and innovative ways to cut aviation emissions while supporting the UK economy.

Today’s announcement is an important part of plans to reduce emissions from aviation to net zero. Currently one of the highest single emitters of greenhouse gases, aviation is one of our biggest challenges when it comes to making transport green, but the investment and innovations such as SAF are there to make guilt-free flying a reality.

The fuel, made from waste materials, such as household waste or used cooking oil, offers greenhouse gas emissions savings of more than 70% compared to conventional fossil jet fuel when fully replacing kerosene. When combined with greenhouse gas removals, 100% SAF will enable the delivery of a net zero flight.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

"This trailblazing net zero emissions flight, a world first, will demonstrate the vital role that sustainable aviation fuel can play in decarbonising aviation in line with our ambitious net zero targets. 

"That’s not just great news for the environment, it’s great news for passengers who will be able to visit the Big Apple without increasing damaging greenhouse gas emissions.

"It’s crucial that we place sustainability at the heart of the aviation industry’s recovery from COVID-19 and I look forward to working with them on this challenge, which will lower the impact flying across the Atlantic has on the planet."

Current jet fuel specifications do not allow flights to use 100% SAF, meaning SAF use needs to be complemented by additional decarbonisation measures to be fully net zero. The government is committed to accelerating the testing and approval of 100% SAF to unlock the full decarbonisation potential of this technology.

Delivering the transatlantic flight announced today would help to gather the data needed to support ongoing and future work to test and certify sustainable aviation fuel while exploring how engine efficiency improvements, flight optimisation and greenhouse gas removals can contribute to achieving net-zero flights.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said:

"UK airlines strongly support the development of a UK SAF industry, which will play a vital role in helping our sector deliver net zero emissions by 2050, as we are committed to doing.

"This announcement will provide additional momentum to achieving this and, alongside the recent £180 million in Treasury support for the development of new UK SAF plants, demonstrates the commitment of government to making SAF a key part of the decarbonisation of aviation.

"We now need to turbocharge production in order to build the initial 3 SAF plants by 2025 and UK airlines have shown real commitment to making this happen with our partnerships with Philipps 66, Velocys and LanzaTech.

"We look forward to working with ministers through the Jet Zero Council to continue to explore mechanisms to attract the required private investment – in addition to a planned mandate – so we can help deliver the government’s 10% SAF uptake goal by 2030."

Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce plc, said:

"This is an exciting and ambitious challenge, which Rolls-Royce is ready to support having successfully tested our large commercial aero engines on 100% sustainable aviation fuel over the last year.

"We have the technology to help the UK government achieve its objectives and we look forward to working closely with them to deliver this milestone transatlantic flight.

"Just over 100 years ago, Rolls-Royce powered the first ever transatlantic flight and now we have the innovation and expertise to power the next generation of sustainable aircraft."

Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, said:

"Waste based feedstocks are important as they offer an economic path to much needed volumes of sustainable aviation fuel.

"We applaud the UK government’s leadership in working with industry and setting ambitious goals for the aviation sector. It is only by working together, that we will see the transformative change needed to deliver on the commitments to meet Net Zero."

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, which is running the competition with the Department for Transport, said:

"Innovate UK proudly supports this pioneering initiative. This flight, driven through collaboration and bold ambition, is a perfect example of how innovation can and will shape our future lives.

"The speed at which this has become a reality is down to the inspiration, ingenuity and investment of all those involved."

Fuel specifications are not the only barrier preventing a higher uptake of SAF. High fuel production costs, technology risk at commercial scale and feedstocks availability are some of the challenges that government and industry are jointly working to overcome in order to build a thriving domestic SAF sector.

To do so, the government is exploring a SAF mandate and is supporting the UK SAF industry with £180 million of funding over the next 3 years, aiming to accelerate the commercialisation of SAF plants and the establishment of a fuel testing clearing house in the UK, as announced in the Net Zero Strategy.

This support will build on the progress made through previous advanced fuels grant funding programmes, such as the £15 million Green Fuels, Green Skies grant funding competition.

In addition to the £180 million funding, £400 million of funding is being made available through a government partnership with Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive private sector investment into the next generation of green technologies, through which UK SAF projects may seek additional capital.

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