With an annual research catchment of more than £6 billion, Matthew Stone – Renovare Fuels’ Chairman – is one of the sector’s most active investors in clean technology. Led by a management team including Business Development Director Duncan Clark, Renovare Fuels designs, manufactures and markets new technologies, converting biogas into liquid fuel.
As a direct result of the aviation sector attracting widespread condemnation for its vast carbon emissions, environmentalists and governments all over the world are demanding a complete overhaul of the industry as part of international attempts to avert a climate crisis through the implementation of green energies.
For several years, the number of flights has consistently increased. According to one study conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation, between 2013 and 2018 carbon emissions produced through aviation increased 70% faster than predicted levels. The UK’s Aviation Environment Federation cites climate change as one of the greatest and most complex global challenges of modern times.
We are already experiencing the effects of climate change, with extreme weather events such as flooding and heatwaves reaping havoc on crops, causing forest fires, affecting biodiversity, and causing global sea levels to rise. Scientists warn that the environmental impact of continued CO2 emissions in years to come could be dire. With the lifespan of CO2 spanning centuries, experts warn that we not only have to counter today’s CO2 emissions, but those that have been accumulating since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
Currently, air travel is almost wholly reliant on a fossil fuel called kerosene. The vast quantity of kerosene required for aeroplanes to take off and stay airborne make aviation the most carbon-intensive method of travel.
In 2018, around 4.5 billion passengers flew. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the Earth’s population, somewhere between 80 and 95%, have never set foot on a plane. In the UK, the proportion of the population who fly each year is higher than that of many countries, at around 50%. Scientists warn that the aviation industry is unsustainable, with a single long-haul flight generating more emissions than any other lifestyle activity undertaken by an individual throughout the whole year.
Committed to driving change in the aerospace industry, the UK Government recently pledged £400 million in funding for green aviation research and technology development. While the air travel industry faces unique difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 global crisis, experts warn that the sector must work towards sustainability in the mid- to long-term, with the UK government adding international shipping and aviation to its Net Zero Target in coming years.
While aerospace design engineers are critical to this industrywide revolution, end users have an integral role to play too. With many signing up to the UN’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, some of the world’s leading airlines are making significant efforts to offset carbon dioxide emissions.
One of the most impactful tactics for aviation companies is the adoption of biofuels. Derived from waste products, second generation biofuels, such as those developed by Renovare Fuels, offer significant value to airlines, removing carbon from the environment during growth without requiring an additional energy input or competing with existing produce or crops.
In 2019, the world produced a total of 43 billion tonnes of CO2 emission. The aviation industry accounted for approximately 2% of that figure. While this may seem like a relatively small proportion, to put it in context, this amounted to emissions of more than 915 million tonnes. Conservationists argue that 2% is still 2% too much. With climate change a collective concern, governments all over the world are rapidly coming to agree.
Sustainability is integral to the future of aviation. Even in the midst of serious challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that industrywide efforts are continued, protecting the sector’s long-term viability by driving the transition to greener aviation.