‘Challenge much greater’ for travellers as sustainable fuels ‘not a silver bullet’

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However, many major airlines have pledged to meet net zero emissions by 2050. Express.co.uk spoke to two aviation experts to find out if sustainable fuels or electric flights are the answer.

Sustainable fuels could be capable of cutting flight emissions by a whopping 80 percent.

George Ferguson, Senior Analyst for Aerospace, Defence and Airlines at Bloomberg Intelligence, told Express.co.uk: “On sustainable fuels and electric flight I would say we are a distance away on both, but I see fuels having more of an impact in the next five years than electric.

“Refining capacity is the challenge with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) at present; right now there just isn’t much capacity and the price is high.

“The opportunity is that all the current jet engines can burn at least some proportion of sustainable fuel so the fleet is ready.

“As capacity to produce SAF fuel rises and prices fall, adoption should be widespread though I think we are years away from that point.”

Boeing has set itself an ambitious goal of reaching 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030.

Bhanu Choudhrie, Founder of Alpha Aviation Group, told Express.co.uk: “Though not a silver bullet, sustainable aviation fuels are key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry in the coming years.

“SAF are already commercially available and have been proven to reduce emissions by up to 80 percent compared to fossil fuels.”

While airlines might be working towards adopting SAF, the experts said the major problem with sustainable fuels is the limited supply.

Choudhrie said: “The problems lie in the currently limited supply of SAF – at present, they only account for 0.1 percent of jet fuel produced around the world.

“Therefore for SAF to truly become an option for flying in the next couple of years, there needs to be deeper collaboration amongst stakeholders to build the financial structures and programmes that can help direct capital into the production of these alternative fuels.

“Only then will SAF be produced at the levels needed to make substantial progress on net zero.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed he’d been told the UK was just a “couple of years” away from electric powered flights.

But while advances have been made in electric technology, experts say the industry is still a long way off commercial electric flights.

Ferguson told Express.co.uk: “For electric flight, the challenge is much greater than SAF.

“Battery technology currently delivers power at too high a weight which limits the size of electric aircraft.

“Most of the current work with batteries is on smaller aircraft and in the next few years I would expect to see small commuter aircraft – maybe around 20 or so seats – powered by batteries.

“But the push to the most important aircraft – 150+ seaters like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 – isn’t on the horizon.

“Aircraft like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 are the most prevalent in global fleets by a distance, comprising around 25,000 commercial aircraft globally.

“Sustainable aviation fuels will be the link to improving emissions from this fleet near term.”

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