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By 2050, Up to 38% of Aircraft Could Run on Hydrogen or Electricity

By 2050, up to 38% of aircraft could run on hydrogen or electricity. To power them, we’ll need a new solar energy capacity half the size of Belgium. Overall, the shift to green aviation could require up to 1,700TWh of clean energy, equivalent to 10-25 of the world’s largest wind farms or up to 15,000km2 of solar farms. Large airports could consume up to 10 times more electricity than they do today if they invest in their own on-site hydrogen manufacturing and charging infrastructure.

Challenges to decarbonizing aviation

Today, aviation generates about 2% of human-made CO2 emissions. The aviation industry aims to be net zero by 2050, but it needs to act fast. Passenger demand is set to double in that time. Huge progress is being made on electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft, but the required infrastructure is still in its early stages of development. Building the required infrastructure to power these aircraft could require an investment of up to $1.7 trillion by 2050.

Possible solutions

In the short term, the EU has passed a law that says 2% of fuel offered at its airports must be sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2025, rising to 70% by 2050. These fuels can be used to decarbonize existing aircraft, and achieving these targets alone could cut the bloc’s aviation emissions by two-thirds by 2050.

In the long term, the aviation industry will need to invest in new technologies, such as hydrogen-powered aircraft and electric aircraft. These technologies are still in their early stages of development, but they have the potential to revolutionize the aviation industry and make it more sustainable.

The Way Forward

The aviation industry is facing a major challenge but it is also an opportunity. By investing in new technologies and infrastructure, the aviation industry can decarbonize and become a more sustainable part of the global economy.

Topics:
Industries in DepthNature and Biodiversity
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June 23, 2024

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