The European Commission officially launched the Alliance for Zero Emission Aviation on Friday. The Alliance calls for aviation community members to join forces to achieve a zero-emission aircraft. In the aviation community, the coming years will usher the entry of hydrogen and electric-powered aircraft to achieve Europe’s 2050 climate neutrality objective. Members of the Alliance will include representatives from aircraft manufacturers, airlines, airports, fuel providers, energy companies, standardization and certification agencies, passenger and environmental interest groups, and regulators.
Functions of its Members
Members will look into the fuel and infrastructure requirements of hydrogen and electric aircraft at airports. They will jointly identify barriers to the commercialization of zero-emission aircraft and establish recommendations and roadmaps to address them. They will explore the necessary standardization and certification requirements and their implications for airlines and air traffic management. They will also promote investment projects, creating synergy and momentum among members.
The European aeronautics industry and other players in the aviation sector have committed to ensuring that air transport in Europe meets the 2050 climate objectives. Some actions towards this effect include the Clean aviation Programme under Horizon Europe, the Innovation Fund, and carbon-pricing mechanisms.
The EU framework program for research and innovation, together with Horizon Europe, is investing €1,7 billion in research and innovation for climate-neutral aviation in the Clean Aviation partnership. The partnership aims to have zero-emission technologies ready between 2027 and 2029, preparing zero-emission aircraft for service by 2035. These new technologies are expected to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by 30 to 50% compared to 2020. Introducing hydrogen and battery-electric technologies into the aviation industry will not only lead to a new generation of aircraft but also cause major changes to airport infrastructures, air traffic management, and energy networks.
In July 2021, the ReFuelEU Aviation initiative was created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the production and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel(SAF). The European Commission directed fuel suppliers to distribute SAF to EU airports to enhance the uptake of SAF by airlines. The commission also ensured that jet fuel uptake does not exceed the amount needed for safe operations. This is to prevent additional emissions related to the extra weight of airplanes carrying excessive fuel.
A member of the Alliance, Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said,
‘Europe’s aeronautics industry is the most innovative in the world. And its enthusiasm – from large manufacturers to equipment suppliers and small companies and start-ups – to lead the way to hydrogen and electric propulsion aircraft is really encouraging. But the entire aviation ecosystem, including fuel suppliers, airport operators, and regulators, also needs to get ready. The Alliance for Zero-Emission Aviation will help coordinate efforts by companies and organizations to maintain a competitive and sustainable aviation sector.’
Europe expects to see over 44,000 new aircraft on the market over the next two decades. The potential market volume for zero-emission aircraft is estimated at 26,000 by 2050, with a total value of €3trillion. The Alliance will work complementarily with the renewable and Low-Carbon Fuel value chain and the clean hydrogen industrial Alliances. As tackling climate change is a global effort, the Alliance will deliver on the commitment to the EU’s climate ambition, goals, and other related policies.
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