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Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 20-Feb-2020

Rolls-Royce CEO outlines three focus areas to pioneer technology to decarbonise aviation

Rolls-Royce: Emissions from air travel could grow by 25% within a couple of decades

Rolls-Royce CEO: Complexity and time scale to decarbonise aviation will lead to differing opinions

Airports Authority of India declared 85 airports single use plastic free in 2019

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Rolls-Royce CEO outlines three focus areas to pioneer technology to decarbonise aviation

Rolls-Royce CEO Waren East said (19-Feb-2020) the company needs to pioneer technology to decarbonise aviation "on three fronts":

  • The company needs to redouble efforts to improve the fuel efficiency of engines and develop new technologies and capabilities for future low emission products. Mr Warren said airframe engine combination fuel efficiency has been improving around 1% p/a for the past 20 years and Rolls-Royce's large engine UltraFan concept is "another significant step forward";
  • The company needs to work with the fuels industry to significantly ramp up the availability of environmentally friendly sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) that are scalable and compatible. Mr Warren noted a new form of collaboration is needed across the industry – from airlines, airport operators and aircraft manufacturers to energy companies, financial institutions, government, civil society groups and customers;
  • There is a need to accelerate development of disruptive technologies, such as hybrid-electric and all-electric power and explore the use of new fuels such as hydrogen. Rolls-Royce is already deploying hybrid electric systems outside of aviation, but electrification is "not a panacea on its own" although it may help some areas of aviation, such as commuter and regional routes, to move swiftly. [more - original PR]

Original Report: The greatest challenge for air travel

The greatest challenge for air travel

Prince Charles last week asked if those in power “want to go down in history as the people who did nothing to bring the world back from the brink of a climate crisis?”. He called for 2020 to be "the year that we put ourselves on the right track".

The aviation challenge

One sector that people fear could drag the world off-track is aviation.

For thousands of years, the exchange of culture, ideas, goods and services has been the powerhouse of human progress. Aviation has accelerated that exchange across continents, making a huge contribution to humanity and the global economy. International trade is responsible for much of the development and prosperity of the modern world.

But today the industry faces a real challenge. If demand for air travel grows in line with current projections, and other sectors are able to decarbonise more quickly, emissions from the aviation industry will grow significantly as a proportion of the total. Under some scenarios, this could approach 25% in a couple of decades - and even sooner if the world moves faster and we do not.

We urgently need to pioneer flight without adding more CO2 to the atmosphere. There is no one single solution that will get us there. It will take genuine collaboration across industries and borders to make progress.

Unlike the world of automotive where different alternatives can evolve in different regions, in the world of aviation it is a global challenge and will ultimately require a global solution. The UK, with its rich history of innovation, has an opportunity to help lead the way, supported by a Government committed to tackling global climate change.

Industrial leader

"I firmly believe that few companies on the planet are better placed than Rolls-Royce to help solve this problem. Last month, I committed us to a pathway that gets Rolls-Royce to net zero carbon by 2050. As an industrial technology leader, we want to use our capabilities to enable others to do the same. We will get our own factories and facilities there sooner, in 2030, but it is reducing the impact of our products – and particularly those that serve aviation – where the greatest challenge lies."

Inevitably, the sheer complexity of the challenge and the early stage of some technologies needed to decarbonise aviation, means that there will be differences in opinion about the exact pathway for the whole industry. At the outset of a 30 year journey, that is to be expected. The important thing is that there is now no question about where aviation needs to get to – net zero – and a shared recognition of the urgent need to get there as fast as possible.

In my view that means we, at Rolls-Royce, need to pioneer on three fronts. First, we need to redouble efforts to improve the fuel efficiency of engines and develop new technologies and capabilities for future low emission products. We have been improving airframe engine combinations around 1% every year for the past 20 years and our large engine UltraFan concept is another significant step forward.

Second, we need to work with the fuels industry to significantly ramp up the availability of environmentally friendly sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) that are scalable and compatible. A new form of collaboration is needed across the industry – from airlines, airport operators and aircraft manufacturers to energy companies, financial institutions, government, civil society groups and customers.

Third, we need to accelerate development of disruptive technologies, such as hybrid-electric and all-electric power and explore the use of new fuels such as hydrogen. Rolls-Royce is already deploying hybrid electric systems today in the rail and marine markets and supplying microgrids for power generation. Electrification is not a panacea on its own, but may help some areas of aviation, such as commuter and regional routes, to move swiftly.

In 20 years – the life of one commercial aircraft – the planet will be supporting four times more people than it did a hundred years earlier. This is a massive strain on our natural ecosystem. We absolutely must do as much as sustainably possible to bring the world back from the brink. There has never, ever, been a greater challenge to human kind. But, for us, there has never been a more exciting time to strive to be part of the solution.

Rolls-Royce: Emissions from air travel could grow by 25% within a couple of decades

Rolls-Royce stated (19-Feb-2020) that if demand for air travel grows in line with current projections, and other sectors are able to decarbonise more quickly, emissions from the aviation industry will grow significantly as a proportion of the total. According to the engine manufacturer under some scenarios, this could approach 25% "in a couple of decades". [more - original PR]

Rolls-Royce CEO: Complexity and time scale to decarbonise aviation will lead to differing opinions

Rolls-Royce CEO Waren East noted (19-Feb-2020) the "sheer complexity" of the challenge to decarbonise aviation and the early stage nature of some technologies needed to accomplish this "means that there will be differences in opinion about the exact pathway for the whole industry". He noted this will be a "30 year journey" and the "important thing is that there is now no question about where aviation needs to get to – net zero – and a shared recognition of the urgent need to get there as fast as possible". [more - original PR]

Airports Authority of India declared 85 airports single use plastic free in 2019

Airports Authority of India (AAI) reported it eradicated single use plastic items from 85 AAI airports in 2019 (Times of India/CNBC-TV18/The Hindu, 19/20-Feb-2020). The AAI declared 35 airports single use plastic free in Jan-2019, followed by a further 20 airports in Sep-2019 and a further 30 airports in Oct-2019.

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