emirates fuel

Emirates announces $200m fund to cut fossil fuel usage in aviation

Image credit: reuters

Emirates airline has announced a $200m (£158m) fund to research and develop projects focused on reducing the impact of fossil fuels in commercial aviation.

The funds will be disbursed over three years and will see the airline identify partnerships with organisations working on solutions in advanced fuel and energy technologies.

In January, Emirates flew a Boeing 777 with one of its engines powered entirely with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the first time.

SAFs are typically derived by combining jet fuel with alternatives such as biofuels or recycled oils from industrial food facilities. Currently, SAF is approved for use in all aircraft, but only in blends of up to 50 per cent with conventional jet fuel. Following the successful trial on one engine, Emirates said it wanted to continue to develop the initiative with engine airframe manufacturers.

However, bio-based SAF, currently the only type of commercially available SAF, is extremely limited in supply. The International Air Transport Association estimates that the entire world’s annual supply of SAF meets less than 0.1 per cent of all airlines’ needs.

In recent months, Emirates contributed to the development of the UAE’s power-to-liquid fuels roadmap. The country is currently making some effort to get its carbon emissions, which are the fifth highest in the world per capita and more than four times the UK figure, under control.

Emirates said its continued investment in modern aircraft remains its biggest commitment to reducing its emissions. The airline currently has 200 of the latest Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft on order, including A350s, which supposedly deliver 25 per cent less fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat than older models.

It also operates flexible routings where it partners with air navigation service providers to create the most efficient flight plan for each flight, taking advantage of natural tailwinds, while avoiding headwinds and weather systems.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, said: “We are ring-fencing $200m to invest in advanced fuel and energy solutions for aviation, which is where airlines currently face the biggest impediment in reducing our environmental impact.

“We looked long and hard at the reality we face in commercial aircraft and engine technology, fuel supply chain, and our industry’s regulatory and eco-system requirements. It’s clear that with the current pathways available to airlines in terms of emissions reduction, our industry won’t be able to hit net-zero targets in the prescribed timeline.

“We believe our industry needs better solutions, and that’s why we’re looking to partner with leading organisations on R&D. Our aim is to contribute meaningfully to practical solutions for the long-term sustainability of commercial aviation.”

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