The COVID-19 pandemic that spread around the world in 2020 caused many drastic changes to the way we live. For several months of the year, most of the world went into lockdown, which meant huge restrictions on travel. One of the takeaways from this enforced period of staying at home was the immediate and significant effect the travel restrictions had on carbon emissions.
With flights grounded, people not commuting, and travel for anything other than essential purposes curbed, the world became a greener place in a very short amount of time. As travel once again becomes viable and people start to return to some semblance of normal life, it is important to look at ways in which the transport industry can become more sustainable.
Duncan Clark, Renovare Fuels’ Director of Business Development, is part of a team that has been developing an alternative to traditional jet fuel that could form part of the solution.
Some of the current statistics for sustainability in the aviation industry can be seen in the infographic attachment to this post.
The Elements of Sustainable Aviation
As the world works towards decreasing carbon emissions, the transport industry will play a key role in the battle against climate change. Aviation currently contributes around 2% of all global carbon emissions, which for a single industry is a high percentage. If aviation can be made more sustainable, the effect on the planet will be significant.
There are three key elements to creating a sustainable future for aviation, which leading aviation manufacturers are exploring.
First, manufacturers are looking at the development of new technologies which will increase fuel efficiency, adapting aircraft and engine design to use less fuel and therefore generate fewer emissions.
Second, they are exploring commercialisation of sustainable alternatives to current jet fuels. It has been proven on over 185,000 commercial flights so far that sustainable alternatives are viable.
Third, aviation manufacturers are seeking to develop radically new technologies, including accelerating and propulsion technologies, which will form a part of what has been dubbed the third generation of aviation.
Other factors include more efficient aircraft routing and air traffic management to minimise the level of fuel consumption across all flights.
History of Sustainability in Aviation
The aviation industry may be a large contributor to global carbon emissions, but it is also an industry that has achieved much in terms of becoming more sustainable in recent years. Over the past four decades, aircraft have become on average 70% more energy efficient. They have also become 75% quieter, and this has been achieved whilst also decreasing the real cost of flying by around 60%.
However, the flip side of reducing the cost is that flight becomes accessible to more people, which results in higher demand. More planes and more commercial flights pump more carbon into the atmosphere, increasing the need for more sustainable aviation practices in the long-term.
There is much pressure on aerospace designers to come up with new technologies that will drastically reduce the levels of carbon dioxide being transmitted by the aviation industry into the atmosphere. While there is potential for these solutions to be somewhere on the horizon, it will be a long time before they can be fully implemented.
In the meantime, there are solutions that can help reduce emissions in the here and now. Renovare Fuels has developed a biofuel alternative that can be used by the aviation industry to offset a portion of emissions, which will be ready to use in the very near future.
The short video attachment introduces the world’s first aeroplane, which took flight over a century ago.