In terms of sustainability, the aviation industry courts considerable controversy for its high volumes of CO2 emissions. In 2019 alone, the global aviation industry produced an estimated 915 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, according to a report published by the Air Transport Action Group.
Though this represented just 2% of global CO2 emissions for the year, with an estimated 43 billion tonnes of CO2 released into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2019, 2% is still 2% too much. The UK Government recently prioritised the transition to greener technologies, earmarking £400 million in funding for green aviation.
Throughout 2020 air travel fell substantially due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, in preceding years, flight numbers increased consistently. In fact, a study conducted in 2019 by the International Council on Clean Transportation showed that between 2013 and 2018, air travel created 70% more emissions than experts had previously anticipated.
The UK Government recently announced that the national shift to green aviation is now a top political priority. Matthew Stone, Renovare Fuels’ Chairman, recently discussed the issue with AltEnergyMag, identifying how the answer could lie in specialist, carbon-neutral liquid fuels.
Although the aviation sector is currently engrossed in issues sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, conservationists and industry experts alike warn that addressing sustainability issues is imperative to the air travel industry’s mid- to long-term viability. Even amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the necessity for long-term change and a shift towards sustainability remains an industrywide talking point.
The UK Department for Transport’s Net Zero Board recently announced that the UK Government would be addressing international aviation and shipping sustainability as part of its Net Zero Target in the coming years, driving a transition to greener aviation. To support industrywide evolution of aviation, the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) invested £400 million in green aerospace research and technological development.
Many aviation companies and end users have adopted measures put forward as part of the United Nations Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. Various strategies are available to airline companies seeking to offset emissions. Perhaps the most impactful is the incorporation of biofuels into their fuel stock.
Whereas natural gas, coal and petroleum are all finite fossil fuels, biofuels are usually derived from organic products. Instead of taking millions of years to form, biofuels can be developed from sustainable materials.
To be renewable, an energy source must be easily replenishable, without a finite limit. In other words, if it is possible to run out of an energy source, it is not renewable. Whereas fossil fuels like natural gas, coal and petroleum are all exhaustible, energy sources for biofuels can be replenished as readily as they are used, making them a sustainable, renewable energy source.
Biofuels produce less particulate when they are burned, i.e. soot and smoke, and emit less pollutants such as sulphur, the leading cause of acid rain. They also produce less ozone, a primary component of smog.
One of the biggest drawbacks of biofuels is that they can require significant amounts of water to produce; up to 84 times as much as fossil fuels. Subsequently, the production of some biofuels can threaten food supply, reducing the amount of water available to support crops. This is a particular issue for developing nations, since increased use of farmland for production of biofuel energy sources reduces the amount of land available for crop production, which in turn can drive up the price of food.
Led by a management team including renewables industry expert Duncan Clark, Renovare Fuels has circumnavigated many of the challenges of traditional biofuels, developing its products from biodegradable waste materials produced by other sectors such as agriculture. Since Renovare Fuels’ ground-breaking new biofuel is derived from waste materials, its production does not compete with food production or crops and does not require additional energy input.
In addition, by utilising waste from other sectors, this biofuel actually removes carbon from the environment throughout its production, creating a positive carbon footprint. For aviation companies, Renovare Fuels offers an objectively carbon neutral fuel source.
By partnering with Renovare Fuels, airlines can easily create sustainable supply chains which significantly offset emissions. Many believe that Renovare Fuels’ breakthrough in generating this new generation of biofuels could have a significant impact on the aviation industry, potentially marking the start of a new era of sustainable air travel.