IATA updates netzero carbon emissions 2050 progress

IATA’s update on the path to net zero emissions presents some encouraging progress, particularly in developing the SAF supply chain. Global aviation community focused on SAF development for net zero emissions by 2050.

 Major players like Neste and IAG making significant strides in SAF supply chain. New technologies like hydrogen fuel cells and ethanol production facilities advancing sustainability in aviation.

Most of the world’s airlines and airports have committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and many have set interim reduction targets to be met by 2030. The world is growing impatient and these are monumental targets for commercial aviation to achieve, so it’s timely that IATA has released a Net Zero Fly update on the road to net zero emissions by 2050.

On Friday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its latest update, which details the latest industry developments in January and February from the global aviation community.

Unsurprisingly, most news centers on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), where more and more airlines are signing deals to purchase the fuel, but the availability of commercial quantities at affordable prices remains elusive. In Asia, Singapore has made concerted efforts to draw together partners to commercialize SAF, while in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is a co-initiator of the HK Sustainable Aviation Fuel Coalition, which aims to build a regional SAF hub in Hong Kong.

Finnish energy company Neste is a leader in developing a SAF supply chain, and it has closed an agreement with French regional airline Amelia for SAF supply. Amelia has been using SAF for all its flights departing Amsterdam Schiphol since January 1, 2024, while Neste announced an agreement with partners to develop electrofuels.

Norwegian has become a co-owner of Norsk e-Fuel, and Spain’s Cepsa and Apical Group’s Bio-Oils are building a bio-fuels plant capable of producing 500,000 tonnes of renewable diesel and SAF per year. IAG announced its largest SAF purchase with e-SAF producer Tewelve, which will supply advanced e-SAF made from CO2, water and renewable energy. It is a 14-year contract for Twelve to supply 785,000 tonnes of e-SAF to support the group’s five European airlines.

Middle Eastern giant Emirates joined The Solent Cluster, a UK low carbon investment initiative focused on low carbon investments to reduce CO2 emissions from industry, transport and households on the South Coast of England. The Solent Cluster has the potential to create a SAF plant with an estimated fuel production capacity of 200,000 tonnes per year.

In the United States, the United Airlines Sustainable Flight Fund has drawn together 22 corporate partners, including Air New Zealand and Embraer. It aims to reduce emissions and drive SAF production through investments in startups, which now exceeds $200 million. Lanza Jet Freedom Pines opened the world’s first ethanol to SAF production facility, which will produce 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel per year.

Lanaza Jet is also working with Southwest Airlines on the development of a SAF facility and to advance the operations of a corn stover to ethanol technology company: SAFFiRE Renewables. In Canada, Azure Sustainable Fuels Corp. reached milestones in its development of a renewable fuel production facility that could produce approximately 20,000 barrels per day of predominantly SAF starting in 2027.

Universal Hydrogen successfully powered a megawatt-class fuel cell powertrain, the largest ever, using its proprietary liquid hydrogen module. In other developments, Airbus, Avinor, SAS, Swedavia and Vattenfall have signed an MoU to investigate the feasibility of a hydrogen infrastructure at airports in Sweden and Norway. At the same time, Safran and Turbotech successfully completed the first test of a hydrogen-fueled gas turbine engine.

These are just a snapshot of new developments already in 2024, and the heartening aspect is the focus on new initiatives for producing SAF at volume. This is what the aviation industry needs to get to net zero by 2050 and give the newer technologies time to develop and gain acceptance.

Tags: Emission, IATA, NetZero, SAF
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