Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 02-Jun-2022
This regular CAPA report provides a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news. This latest issue features:
Southwest Airlines invests in SAFFiRE Renewables for SAF project
SITA emphasises need to mitigate impacts of climate change
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.
Southwest Airlines invests in SAFFiRE Renewables for SAF project
Southwest Airlines announced (01-Jun-2022) an investment into SAFFiRE Renewables, as part of a project backed by the US Department of Energy (DoE) to develop and produce scalable sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The project will be funded by a DoE grant matched by Southwest Airlines, allowing SAFFiRE to convert corn stover into renewable ethanol, which would then be upgraded into SAF.
If phase one of the project is successful, DoE and Southwest Airlines would have the opportunity to fund a second phase investment for the design, fabrication, installation and operation of a pilot plant producing renewable ethanol.
Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan stated: "This is a unique opportunity to invest in what we believe could be game-changing technology that could facilitate the replacement of up to approximately five percent of our jet fuel with SAF by 2030, with the potential to significantly continue to scale beyond the decade".
SAFFiRE CEO Mark Yancey stated: "If we are successful in developing and commercializing this technology, we project the technology can produce 7.5 billion gallons per year of SAF by 2040". [more - original PR]
Original report: Southwest Airlines Invests in Sustainable Aviation Fuel Pilot Project Supported by the Department of Energy
Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) ("Southwest" or the "Company") today announces an investment into SAFFiRE Renewables, LLC (SAFFiRE), a company formed by D3MAX, LLC (D3MAX), as part of a Department of Energy (DOE)-backed project to develop and produce scalable, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Funded with a DOE grant matched by Southwest's investment, SAFFiRE is expected to utilize technology developed by the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to convert corn stover, a widely available waste feedstock in the U.S., into renewable ethanol that then would be upgraded into SAF.
Check out this video highlighting the technology SAFFiRE is expected to utilize to convert corn stover into renewable ethanol, which would then be upgraded into SAF.
In 2021, the DOE awarded D3MAX the only pilot-scale grant for SAF production, with a goal to scale technology that could commercialize SAF. According to NREL, this could produce significant quantities of cost-competitive SAF that could provide an 84 percent reduction in carbon intensity compared to conventional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis. Southwest's match of the DOE's grant supports phase one of the project, which is expected to include technology validation, preliminary design, and a business plan for a pilot plant.
"SAF is critical for decarbonizing the aviation sector," said Bob Jordan, Chief Executive Officer at Southwest®. "This is a unique opportunity to invest in what we believe could be game-changing technology that could facilitate the replacement of up to approximately five percent of our jet fuel with SAF by 2030, with the potential to significantly continue to scale beyond the decade. This first-of-its-kind investment is another step we are taking to address our environmental impact, and it also supports our efforts to partner with organizations and government entities to help our industry reach the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050."
In 2021, Southwest set a near-term goal to maintain carbon neutrality to 2019 levels while continuing to grow its operations, part of which includes replacing 10 percent of its total jet fuel consumption with SAF by 2030.
In addition to complementing Southwest's SAF goals and broader environmental sustainability efforts, this project supports the federal government's climate strategy, including an ambition for three billion gallons of SAF by 2030 through the SAF Grand Challenge.
"The Department of Energy is committed to turning our ambitious aviation decarbonization goals into realities through strong partnerships across the airline industry," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk. "Moving cutting-edge technology advances in sustainable aviation to production scale will save money, reduce carbon emissions, and reshape the future of the airline travel for the benefit of American consumers."
The pilot project is intended to validate the commercialization of this corn-stover-to-ethanol technology, which could lead to a follow-up phase. If phase one is successful, DOE and Southwest would have the opportunity to fund a second phase investment for the design, fabrication, installation, and operation of a pilot plant producing renewable ethanol utilizing technology developed by D3MAX and NREL. In phase two, the renewable ethanol is planned to be upgraded into SAF by LanzaJet, Inc., at its biorefinery currently under construction in Soperton, Georgia.
"We are extremely excited to be working with Southwest Airlines—they will be a great investor," said Mark Yancey, CEO of SAFFiRE. "SAFFiRE technology is expected to produce lower carbon SAF compared to conventional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis, which could become carbon negative with process improvements and carbon capture. If we are successful in developing and commercializing this technology, we project the technology can produce 7.5 billion gallons per year of SAF by 2040."
"NREL is thrilled to contribute its research and development expertise in biofuels to this exciting collaboration with Southwest Airlines, D3MAX, and DOE to potentially bring SAF to the market quickly and economically," said Adam Bratis, Associate Laboratory Director of BioEnergy Sciences & Technology at NREL.
Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world and remains focused on promoting a healthier planet, but the Company can't accomplish that alone. As described in its 10-Year Environmental Sustainability Plan, Southwest's plans to reduce, replace, offset, and partner are important next steps in the journey to build a holistic approach to improve its environmental sustainability. Learn more about these efforts by visiting swa.is/planetplan.
Southwest's Focus on Environmental Sustainability
- In October 2021 established a plan of action to reduce Southwest's carbon emissions intensity by at least 20 percent by 20301 and maintain carbon neutral growth every year through the end of the decade.
- Announced multiple offtake agreements and memoranda of understanding with sustainable aviation fuel producers.
- In October 2021, Southwest announced the first U.S.-based carbon offset option where individual customers can contribute towards offsetting Southwest's carbon emissions.2
- Joined the Vision 2045 campaign, a collaboration among multiple organizations and companies to share films and resources that aim to inspire businesses and people to take action toward a more sustainable future. Southwest content showcased how the Company is making sustainability a priority through a series of near-term actions and long-term goals.
- Launched opportunities for Southwest® Business Customers to support and advance sustainability initiatives within their corporate travel portfolios.
- Committed $10 million to Yale University's Center for Natural Carbon Capture to research technological advancements and find new solutions to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.
- Joined the Aviation Climate Taskforce, a new nonprofit founded with a goal to tackle the challenges of reducing carbon emissions in aviation.
The frequency was operated with A330-200 equipment powered by biofuel produced at the Petronor refinery.
- El primero de ellos es el vuelo inaugural entre Madrid y Washington, que utiliza un combustible producido a partir de residuos en la refinería de Petronor. El vuelo ha sido operado con un Airbus A330-200, con capacidad para 288 pasajeros, uno de los aviones más eficientes de la aerolínea
- Estos primeros vuelos de largo radio con baja huella de carbono suponen un nuevo avance en la transición ecológica del sector aéreo gracias al uso de biocombustibles y la mejora en la eficiencia energética. El uso de los biocombustibles en estos tres vuelos permitirá una reducción de emisiones a la atmósfera de 125 toneladas de CO2
- Esta iniciativa surge del convenio de colaboración firmado el pasado mes de julio entre Iberia y Repsol hacia una movilidad más sostenible. A lo largo de este año ambas compañías han colaborado en el proyecto AVIATOR, para analizar el impacto de las emisiones de aviación en la calidad del aire de los aeropuertos; han operado el primer vuelo Madrid - Bilbao con combustible sostenible a partir de residuos, e Iberia se ha integrado en el consorcio SHYNE (Spanish Hydrogen Network), liderado por Repsol, para acelerar el desarrollo del hidrógeno verde en España
- En los dos próximos años, Repsol e Iberia colaborarán también en la operación de vuelos con un porcentaje de biocombustible que puede llegar hasta el 50% producido en la planta de Cartagena, en la utilización, también en vuelos, de fuel sintético producido en la planta de Petronor en Bilbao y, para los vehículos de servicios aeroportuarios, el uso de HVO (aceite vegetal hidrotratado)
Repsol e Iberia han dado un paso más en su alianza para reducir las emisiones en el sector aeronáutico con la operación de los primeros vuelos de largo radio con biocombustible producido en España a partir de residuos no aptos para el consumo humano. En concreto, el biojet utilizado pertenece a un lote producido en 2021 en la refinería del Grupo Repsol, Petronor, ubicada en Bilbao.
El primer vuelo que ha incorporado el biocombustible ha inaugurado la ruta Madrid-Washington con un avión Airbus A330-200, bimotor, con capacidad para 288 pasajeros y actualmente uno de los aviones más eficiente de la aerolínea. Esta versión A330-200 MTOW 242 TN tiene una capacidad máxima de despegue de 242 toneladas, y consumen un 15% menos de combustible que la flota a la que sustituyen y son, por tanto, más respetuosos con el medio ambiente.
El segundo será el vuelo IB6193 de Madrid a San Francisco, una ruta que Iberia recupera hoy después de la pandemia, y el tercero será el inaugural de Iberia desde Madrid a Dallas que despegará a las 15:55 hora de Madrid, ambos operados también con la flota Airbus A330-200.
Con estos tres vuelos Iberia y Repsol han reducido hoy 125 toneladas las emisiones de CO2 a la atmósfera, gracias a la mejora de la eficiencia en el consumo de la flota empleada, junto con el uso del biocombustible sostenible.
Para Josu Jon Imaz, Consejero Delegado de Repsol, “un sector como el aeronáutico necesita de soluciones como los biocombustibles para un proceso de descarbonización como el que nos encontramos. El compromiso de Repsol e Iberia nos sitúan a la vanguardia en este aspecto. Además, consolida nuestra posición como empresa multienergética con el objetivo de lograr cero emisiones netas en el año 2050, siendo la primera empresa del sector en adoptar esta ambiciosa meta”.
Por su parte, el Presidente de Iberia, Javier Sánchez-Prieto, comentaba que “la aviación tiene ante sí un reto muy desafiante que solo puede alcanzarse dando pasos como el de hoy, que promuevan la producción de los combustibles de origen sostenible en cantidad suficiente y con precios competitivos, para que eso nos permita avanzar en la transición ecológica del sector aéreo”.
Esta iniciativa forma parte del convenio de colaboración hacia una movilidad más sostenible firmado por Repsol e Iberia el pasado mes de julio y está en consonancia con los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS) que promueve Naciones Unidas a través de la Agenda 2030.
Durante este tiempo, ambas compañías han colaborado en le proyecto AVIATOR, para analizar el impacto de las emisiones de aviación en la calidad del aire de aeropuertos. Por otro lado, en el mes noviembre operaron el primer vuelo Madrid-Bilbao con combustible sostenible a partir de residuos, y en enero de este año Iberia se integró en el consorcio SHYNE (Spanish Hygrogen Network), liderado por Repsol para acelerar el desarrollo del hidrógeno verde en España.
Además, el acuerdo estratégico entre Repsol e Iberia contempla para los próximos años una hoja de ruta para la promoción de los combustibles sostenibles de aviación (SAF). En los vuelos operados hoy, Iberia y Repsol se adelantan a las medidas que la Unión Europea que, a través del paquete Fit For 55, fijará para 2025 la obligación de un 2% de combustible de aviación sostenible. Los vuelos a Washington, Dallas y San Francisco ya incorporan un 2% de SAF.
En el futuro, Iberia y Repsol operarán nuevos vuelos con un porcentaje creciente de mezcla de biocombustibles que puede llegar hasta el 50%. Este producto se elaborará en la primera planta de biocombustibles avanzados de España, que está previsto que entre en funcionamiento en 2023 en Cartagena. También en 2024, Repsol e Iberia han previsto operar con SAF sintético (e-fuel) producido en la planta de Petronor, Bilbao. Además, ambas compañías trabajan en un proyecto para el uso de HVO (Aceite vegetal hidrotratado) en los vehículos para servicios aeroportuarios.
Repsol es pionera en la fabricación de combustibles sostenibles de aviación (SAF, por sus siglas en inglés) en España, y con la producción de combustibles en sus complejos industriales se anticipa a las diferentes medidas que las instituciones comunitarias han establecido para fomentar el uso de los combustibles sostenibles de aviación. En este sentido, el biocombustible avanzado procedente de residuos está incluidos en la lista de combustibles sostenibles en la Directiva Europea de Energías Renovables.
El lote de biocombustible para aviones utilizado ha sido el tercero fabricado por Repsol y el primero del mercado español producido a partir de residuos como materia prima. La compañía multienergética integra así herramientas de economía circular en el proceso, transformando los residuos en productos de alto valor añadido como son los combustibles de baja huella de carbono. Este lote se suma a otros dos anteriores producidos a partir de biomasa en las refinerías de Repsol en Puertollano y Tarragona.
Para avanzar en la descarbonización del sector aéreo, Iberia está desarrollando su estrategia de sostenibilidad sobre cuatro pilares: la transición ecológica del sector aéreo, donde se incluyen todas las iniciativas de renovación de flota, operaciones más eficientes y utilización de combustibles sostenibles de aviación, entre otras iniciativas; una experiencia de viaje más sostenible para sus clientes, a través de la digitalización de servicios, la eliminación progresiva de plásticos a bordo, el desarrollo de su sistema de gestión de residuos y la compensación de la huella de carbono; su apoyo a la I+D+i, y la formación y sensibilización en sostenibilidad de sus empleados.Embraer signed (30-May-2022) an electricity purchase agreement to ensure 100% of electricity acquired in Brazil will be from renewable sources as of 2024.
- For the first time, the company has agreed on a deal to purchase electricity from renewable sources to reduce its carbon emissions
- 100% renewable energy target in Brazil has been brought forward from 2025 to 2024
Embraer announced today that it has signed an electricity purchase agreement that ensures that 100% of the electricity acquired by the company in Brazil will be from renewable sources as of 2024. This means Embraer has brought its public commitment set initially for 2025 forward by one year.
With the acquisition of the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) for 2024, Embraer will zero its "Scope 2" carbon emissions in Brazil, starting to buy all the electricity it uses from solar and wind sources, in addition to contributing to the growth of the renewable energy market. In 2021, Embraer consumed about 170,000 MWh globally, most of this (67%) in Brazil.
"This is a milestone for the company and reinforces Embraer's commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices in its transition to a low-carbon business model. ESG is one of the pillars of our strategic plan and we have a broad program with several fronts, and we are looking at every opportunity to accelerate the reduction of our carbon emissions,” says Carlos Alberto Griner, Embraer's Vice President of People, ESG, and Communications.
In August last year, Embraer announced ESG targets as part of its commitment to a sustainable future. The targets include carbon-neutral operations by 2040, the use of 100% renewable energy by 2025 in Brazil, which has just been brought forward to 2024, and global operations by 2030, as well as increased adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the development of low-carbon technologies and products, such as electric, hybrid, SAF, and hydrogen propulsion.
ZeroAvia expanded (25-May-2022) its agreement with MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ), under which MHIRJ will provide engineering services, aircraft integration and its OEM experience to support the certification of ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric powertrain for retrofit onto regional jets.
The services will be provided through MHIRJ's Aerospace Engineering Centre.
The agreement places the CRJ Series as a frontrunner for the earliest operations using zero emission engines.
ZeroAvia CEO Val Miftakhov stated: "There are hundreds of CRJ Series aircraft in daily operation across North America... All these flights can and should be zero-emission well before the end of this decade".
ZeroAvia expects its 600kW ZA600 powertrain for 10 to 20 seat aircraft to enter service in 2024.
The company is also working to develop the 2MW to 5MW ZA2000 for 40 to 80 seat turboprops by 2026 and the ZA2000RJ for regional jets by the late 2020s. [more - original PR]
Hydrogen-electric propulsion pioneer will collaborate with MHIRJ engineering group to design retrofit and line fit options for Regional Jets
ZeroAvia, the leader in developing zero-emission solutions for commercial aviation, has made a big leap forward in plans to deliver hydrogen-electric engines for regional jets, thanks to an expanded agreement with MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ). As part of the collaboration, MHIRJ will provide engineering services, aircraft integration, and its industry renowned OEM experience to support the certification of ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric powertrain for retrofit onto airframes in the regional jet markets.
Hydrogen-electric propulsion pioneer ZeroAvia will collaborate with MHIRJ engineering group to design retrofit and line fit options for Regional Jets.
ZeroAvia is already well advanced in plans to certify its ZA600, 600kW powertrain for smaller, 10-20 seat aircraft, with entry into service planned for 2024. Concurrently, the company is working on ZA2000, a 2-5MW modular powertrain which targets support for 40-80 seat turboprops by 2026. The ZA2000RJ powertrain will expand this technology to enable passengers to fly in zero-emission regional jets as early as the late 2020s.
This agreement places the CRJ Series aircraft as a frontrunner for the earliest operations using true zero-emission engines. Over 2,000 CRJ Series aircraft have been built since the launch of the program, effectively establishing itself as the backbone of regional aviation in the United States.
This expanded agreement follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the parties at the end of last year.
Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos where he has been discussing the pathway to sustainable aviation, Val Miftakhov, CEO and Founder of ZeroAvia, said: "There are hundreds of CRJ Series aircraft in daily operation across North America, transporting millions of passengers. All these flights can and should be zero-emission well before the end of this decade. This agreement is a giant step forward in delivering hydrogen-electric engines to the regional jet segment."
The agreement is the first for MHIRJ's Aerospace Engineering Centre (AEC) in the hydrogen propulsion field. MHIRJ's Aerospace Engineering Centre aims to provide engineering, design and certification services to third parties using the wide expertise and experience of its engineering team.
Hiro Yamamoto, President and CEO of MHIRJ, said: "We are very excited about this agreement with ZeroAvia as it furthers two important goals for MHIRJ. The first is to continue to grow our AEC business through working with other companies and using our vast engineering expertise to advance this state-of-the art project. The second benefit is that we are part of the value chain in bringing innovative sustainable technology into the regional space."
In the last quarter of 2021, ZeroAvia secured partnerships and funding with major airlines Alaska Air Group and United Airlines to accelerate the development of its ZA2000 engine, the largest of ZeroAvia's current powertrain platforms. This announcement with MHIRJ closely follows ZeroAvia's expansion of its Hollister location in California and a deal with Shell for hydrogen supply, as well as the opening of a new facility at Paine Field in Washington State in January.
SITA emphasises need to mitigate impacts of climate change
SITA stated (30-May-2022) it is essential to mitigate the impacts of climate change while also delivering significant business benefits and financial savings.
SITA noted airports and airlines will need to respond to growing demands for sustainable travel options among passengers.
With the return to travel following COVID-19, and travel expected to rise beyond the 2019 peak, aviation emissions will inevitably rise beyond 2% of global CO2 without mitigation.
Airports and airlines can leverage emission reducing technology to support their carbon net zero by 2050 aim. [more - original PR]
Original report: Airlines and airports must adapt to passenger demands for sustainable travel
Airlines and airports must adapt to passenger demands for sustainable travel
Taking faster action to reduce our industry’s environmental footprint is essential to mitigate the impacts of climate change while also delivering significant business benefits and financial savings.
With more and more passengers, particularly younger generations, seeking sustainable travel options, as evidenced by YouGov and other consumer research, airports and airlines will need to respond to these growing demands to keep up in a highly competitive and cost-challenged industry.
Before the pandemic, the aviation industry was under increasing public pressure to reduce its carbon footprint further, as seen with the prevalence of the flight shaming movement. As borders closed and planes were grounded at the peak of the virus in 2020, aviation emissions plummeted, as did airport and airline revenues.
With the return to travel following COVID-19, and travel expected to rise beyond the 2019 peak, aviation emissions will inevitably rise beyond 2% of global CO2 without mitigation. The landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released in 2021 has warned of a climate catastrophe if the world does not take faster action to reduce emissions.
The recovery of travel has, in fact, proven to be an opportunity for aviation to build back greener and leaner. In 2021, the aviation industry committed to becoming carbon net-zero by 2050, supported by new technology, including sustainable aviation fuels, new electric and hydrogen aircraft, and operational and infrastructure improvements.
Intermodal transport is also a recent and rising development in Europe, helping travel become more sustainable and cutting domestic emissions. For example, in 2021, France announced it would ban short-haul domestic flights where the same journey could be made by train in under two and a half hours.
The passenger perspective
SITA’s 2020 Passenger IT Insights, which surveys passengers to understand their IT preferences, reveals that 80% of passengers said they were at least ‘somewhat’ concerned about climate change – with nearly four in 10 saying they were ‘extremely’ concerned. We expect climate concerns will continue to increase in importance among passengers.
Rising passenger demand for sustainable travel choices presents real opportunities for aviation. In the same 2020 study of passengers, there was high interest in ‘green airport infrastructure’ and the ‘use of new IT solutions’ to increase efficiency at airports and for airlines.
The technologies supporting sustainable aviation
Getting a head start by leveraging the right technologies to make flying more sustainable is one way for airlines and airports to differentiate their business to attract passengers in a highly competitive environment.
SITA’s latest Air Transport IT Insights report, an annual technology trends survey of IT decision-makers in aviation, reflects that many airports and airlines have responded to passenger preferences for greener infrastructure and operations. Most airports, for example, have already implemented smarter and more sustainable infrastructure initiatives. The survey also reveals that a new priority for many airlines is using new IT and telecommunications for sustainability – solutions to optimize flight trajectories, for example.
SITA’s own trajectory guidance solution, OptiFlight, is helping airlines to make fuel, cost, and carbon savings. The application recommends shortcuts based on historical flight data and indicates possible fuel, carbon, and time savings. Airlines like Transavia, for instance, have saved 70 tons in fuel and 223 tons of CO2 per aircraft tail using modules of this solution.
Of course, carriers can achieve even greater efficiencies and positive results by integrating complementary applications that allow them to share information with each other. Combining OptiFlight with applications like eWAS Pilot, the real-time weather monitoring tool used by 67,000 pilots today, and the digital flight briefing tool FlightFolder, empowers airline pilots to make more informed re-routing decisions. Greater confidence with the tools and the results will enable higher adoption and the implementation of more of the optimization recommendations made by OptiFlight. The combined solutions also provide a more environmentally-friendly, safer, and more comfortable passenger experience.
There are several ways that technology is helping with the emission reduction efforts for airports too. For example, SITA has developed an innovative emissions calculation tool that measures the more complex and typically biggest part of an airport’s emissions, known as Scope 3, which is under trial at Palermo Airport. A better knowledge of emissions can then better inform optimization decisions around the airport. And this is where technologies like airport management systems can help deliver greater operational efficiencies and manage emissions in areas such as aircraft turnaround, and runway and resource management.
Airports and airlines have a real opportunity to leverage today’s cutting-edge emission-reducing technologies to support their carbon net-zero by 2050 journey. As well as delivering more immediate cost and carbon savings, the ability to retain and attract more eco-conscious passengers may prove to be a real competitive advantage in the long term.