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#Sustainability20: Airline Travellers Will Pay Trillions To Clean Up Carbon Footprint Of Flying & Other Stories In Aviation
Weekly Roundup - 25/08/23
Each Friday, we publish a round-up of the 20 most important stories on sustainable aviation. You can see previous editions of #Sustainability20 here.
The aviation industry plans to offset its $5 trillion carbon cleanup costs by integrating them into ticket prices. This move is expected to significantly increase the cost of air travel, potentially adding hundreds of dollars to the price of certain flights.
As the effects of climate change become more palpable, airlines worldwide face lawsuits over misleading carbon offset ads. In the U.S., a groundbreaking lawsuit alleges false carbon-neutral advertising. European courts have mixed rulings on greenwashing, while the Australian Consumer Protection Regulator receives complaints against misleading sustainability advertisements by airlines.
Queenstown Airport has converted its $100 million bank facilities into sustainability-linked loans. The airport's debt is now tied to specific sustainability goals, prioritising decarbonisation. Four areas are targeted: achieving high carbon management accreditation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, supporting electrification infrastructure, and decreasing landfill waste. The loan's interest rate correlates with the airport's sustainability performance. Targets were vetted by Sustainalytics and align with the Asia Pacific Loan Market Association's principles.
Denmark's Goodwings, a "climate-focused" SaaS platform, has secured "late seed" funding from Global Cleantech Capital and JTB USA. Established in 2015, Goodwings helps organisations decrease business travel emissions by purchasing sustainable aviation fuel and carbon offsets. The platform also offers emissions data for ESG reporting. The company anticipates growth following its partnership with JTB USA.
Eastern Canada's wildfires, intensified by human-caused climate change, have doubled in likelihood, researchers say. This year saw record burns across 37 million acres. Climate change has made such severe fire-risk conditions twice as probable, with further increase expected as global warming continues.
Infrastructure and operational efficiencies
Korean Air donated first aid kits made from upcycled crew uniforms to Seoul community groups. This sustainable initiative repurposed uniforms, traditionally discarded, into beneficial community items. The airline's employees also funded essential medications included in the kits.
CarbonCapture and partners secure $12.5 million from the US Department of Energy to develop a direct air capture (DAC) hub in Wyoming. The project aims to capture 200,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, supporting sustainable aviation fuel production or geological sequestration. The initiative promotes regional carbon management and community engagement.
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) aims for carbon neutrality by 2045, targeting 100% renewable electricity, zero potable water misuse, and sustainable operations. The 2022 report reveals progress and highlights achievements in energy reduction, sustainable aviation fuel use, and electric vehicle adoption.
Dallas-Fort Worth Airport began construction of a $234 million renewable energy utility plant, targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The plant will manage airport heating and cooling, reducing emissions and water consumption. Completion is expected by mid-2025, supporting future airport expansions.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
Environmental think tank InfluenceMap accuses airlines and ethanol producers of trying to weaken SAF sustainability criteria in a federal tax credit program. Industry groups claim they're advocating for standards congruent with Congress mandates on non-aviation biofuels. A bipartisan group of senators, primarily from corn-producing states, supports them. InfluenceMap asserts that the favoured methodology could increase emissions by promoting more corn ethanol production. Environmentalists advocate for SAF from used cooking oil and waste.
Brazil aims to approve energy transition bills within 100 days to bolster its decarbonisation efforts for the COP28 summit. The bills, focusing on renewable fuels and sectors like offshore wind, intend to reaffirm Brazil's commitment to green initiatives after recent environmental setbacks. Key proposals include a carbon market, offshore wind regulation, and stimulating sustainable aviation fuel production.
United Airlines' new Boeing 737 MAX 10 promotes SAF with a special livery. Spotted at Renton Municipal Airport, Washington, the plane's fuselage sports multiple colors and an engine sticker reading "The future is SAF".
Gevo's Net-Zero 1 ethanol-to-jet project advances to due diligence for a $950 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy's Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Programme, marking a significant milestone in its SAF mission.
New technology: Electric and Hydrogen
ZeroAvia developed the world's first fuel cell compressor for aviation propulsion systems, advancing clean flight. The compressor, crucial for managing oxygen flow in hydrogen fuel cells, improves performance and reliability. Expected to power aircrafts with 9-80 seats by 2027, it streamlines certification, reduces weight, and enhances in-flight reliability. ZeroAvia collaborates with airlines to achieve zero-emission flights.
Applied eVTOL Concepts unveils 'Epiphany Transporter', an eVTOL aircraft the size of a Tesla Model S. Capable of traveling 300+ miles at 160 MPH, it uses ducted thrusters instead of wings, accommodating two passengers. Developed under a DARPA grant, it boasts refined, NASA-proven technology. The team, with a history in innovative aviation designs, is focused on Urban Air Mobility.
NASA's new solid-state battery technology could revolutionise aviation, addressing long-standing battery safety and performance issues. Current lithium-ion batteries pose fire risks and lack power for passenger aircraft. NASA's solid-state batteries are more powerful, safer, and can withstand higher temperatures, potentially paving the way for electric-powered flights in the future.
Momentum Ventures, parent of FlightHub and JustFly.com, celebrates electric aviation's potential to revolutionise air travel sustainably. The company underscores collaboration's importance in addressing challenges and embraces electric planes for aligning with their sustainability values. Electric aircraft offer significant emission reductions, promising a green future in aviation.
Marshall, GKN Aerospace, and Parker Aerospace collaborate to explore liquid hydrogen fuel systems for zero-emission aircraft. They aim to develop hydrogen propulsion technologies to help aviation achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The partnership plans an integrated flight demonstration by 2030, potentially benefitting various aircraft types.
ZeroAvia partners with clean energy leader, Masdar, to explore hydrogen production for aviation. The collaboration, targeting North America and Europe, seeks to power the first hydrogen-fuelled commercial flights. Masdar, aiming for 1 million tonnes of green hydrogen production by 2030, supports UAE's ambitious hydrogen goals. Both firms emphasise the potential of green hydrogen in revolutionising aviation.
In 2019, NASA funded CHEETA, a $6 million project aiming for sustainable aviation using cryogenic hydrogen. Involving academic institutions, Boeing, GE, and others, CHEETA focuses on harnessing hydrogen's unique characteristics for efficient flight. While sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) offers an interim solution, net-zero emission technologies like CHEETA's are crucial for the industry's future, as global aviation demand continues to grow.
Bangkok Airways is committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, recently upcycling used staff uniforms into products like aprons. The airline also promotes waste management, with drop boxes for passengers' recyclables at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Collaborating with Circular Industry Company, the initiative saves CO2 emissions and electricity, supporting a circular economy approach.
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