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Building a truly sustainable aviation industry

Although passenger traffic is currently at its lowest level since the 1970s due to the ongoing pandemic, the need for climate action has not subsided.

Each day airplanes consume about a billion litres of jet fuel that contribute to about 2% of global emissions. Since 1990, the aviation industry more than doubled its overall emissions while other European industries have been able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The overall impact of aviation on the planet's climate could even be as high as 5%, considering additional factors such as contrails.

Large aircraft can't fly on batteries

Cars can use greener technologies such as batteries or fuel cells, whereas for airplanes these technologies are less available due to their weight. Getting the same energy from one kilogram of jet fuel would require nearly 50 kg of latest generation lithium-ion batteries. Particularly for larger aircrafts on international flights, this alternative is not yet feasible.

Nevertheless, it is possible to make aircrafts more sustainable and to reach the industry's target of a 50% reduction of carbon emissions compared to 2005 levels by 2050. E-fuels have an enormous potential as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels since they are fully circular and readily fit into the existing jet fuel supply chain. Unlike biofuels, e-fuels use electricity to transform pure carbon dioxide and hydrogen into fuel. If the electricity and raw materials come from a renewable source, the fuel generated is completely carbon neutral.

Study says synthetic fuel can be competitive by 2030

Accenture mapped out the efforts needed to accelerate the scale-up of e-fuels and we join them on this journey. Our vision is to create an e-fuels consortium between suppliers and airlines to provide secure access to a supply of alternative fuel. With such a consortium, we believe market parity with traditional fuels can already be achieved around 2030.

Check out the latest Point of View from Accenture to get to know more about our joint industry effort to make flying more sustainable.

Key take-aways

  • Batteries are too heavy for long-haul flights

  • Synthetic fuel can be climate neutral and price-competitive by 2030

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