Lufthansa, one of Europe’s leading airlines will start sourcing synthetic kerosene fuel for its aircraft fleet. The the so-called “kerosyn” will be supplied from the Heide refinery in northern Germany in Hemmingstedt using the excess wind power to synthesise the fuel by splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Carbon dioxide is then added to the hydrogen to create the synthetic hydrocarbon aviation fuel. The Heide refinery – which about 100 km from Hamburg – already supplies Hamburg airport with 350,000 tonnes of conventional aviation fuel, however they plan to produce 5% of the fuel used in Hamburg synthetically for Lufthansa with the goal of becoming near zero-emission over the next five years.

The refinery deals with 4.5 million tonnes of crude oil every year, producing petrol, diesel and (fossil) kerosene. German domestic aviation was responsible for 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 (0.26%) of the country’s total CO2 output in 2016. The contract between Heide Raffinerie and Lufthansa could draw excess wind energy from the North Sea whenever the generated electricity cannot be used by the grids.

According to London School of EconomicsLSE published the latest study for the Transition Pathways Initiative on Management Quality and Carbon Performance of (publicly owned) Airlines last March 2019, the airline sector makes a significant and fast-growing contribution to climate change: currently it accounts for 2% of global CO2 emissions and 12% of transport-related CO2 emissions. In addition, aviation has climate impacts beyond CO2 emissions, such as the formation of contrails and clouds, which are likely to be significant. Most of the 20 airlines assessed demonstrate awareness of climate change as a business issue and are building capacity by disclosing their operational emissions and setting emissions targets. Four airline companies are taking a strategic approach to climate change: ANA Group, Delta, Lufthansa and United. Top Carbon Performers are Easyjet and Alaska Air. Easyjet is
the only airline with a CO2 emissions intensity below the TPI 2C benchmarks after 2020. Ryan Air was recently admitted to the top 10 glonal emitters.

Most large publicly owned airlines have a CO2 emissions intensity that is below the TPI benchmarks at present. Up to 2020, this is set to remain the case. Three quarters of airlines have an emissions or fuel efficiency target for 2020 and most of those airlines will have a CO2 emissions intensity below the benchmarks in 2020.

However, in the longer term, the airline sector performs poorly, with none of the 20 airlines providing a 2030 target that would clearly reduce flight emissions. Some airlines have no long-term target and most others have adopted
the industry-wide approach of controlling net emissions through offsetting. More ambitious targets are needed, as is more transparency about how much airlines will rely on offsets to meet their targets. According to IEA and others, the airline sector will have to reduce its own emissions significantly.

EHA is partner in the ENABLEH2 is project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme to develop new microcombustion technology for aircraft “flying” on liquid hydrogen.

Photo: Courtesy of Heide Raffinerie