At a joint meeting on August 22, 2019 Chancellor Merkel and Dutch prime minsiter Edwin Rutte announced their collaboration in strengthening climate protection at EU level. The German chancellor also stated that she favours a 55% reduction in greenhouse gases in the European Union by 2030. The daybefore on her visit to the first National Aviation Conference at Leipzig Airport,on August 21, 2019,  to be held every two years, the Chancellor indicated for that matter that she not only puts all on electric mobility but also believes that hydrogen has a future as a fuel. By the end of the year Germany intends to finalise a hydrogen strategy. Given the fact that some 850,000 jobs depend directly or indirectly on the aviation sector,  it makes it all the more important “that the branch can demonstrate that growth does not always need to go hand in hand with increases in emissions of climate-damaging gases,” said Angela Merkel.

Climate- and environmentally-friendly aviation, international competitiveness and secure jobs – those were the key issues discussed at the first National Aviation Conference, which was hosted by Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, and the state premier of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer. This new forum was agreed on by the CDU/CSU and the SPD in the 2018 coalition agreement. The National Aviation Conference was designed to advance debate on the key issues facing aviation, laid out in the Leipzig Statement (in German, see page 2 reference to Power to Liquid)  on the future of the aviation branch, which was signed by representatives of the realms of politics, industry and the trade unions. The Leipzig Statement pinpoints key areas of action that are to be addressed jointly, from new environmentally and climate-friendly technologies to digitalisation and new mobility, not forgetting modern, secure jobs. It is the starting point for the planned review of the German government’s aviation strategy. With a view to the “ambitious goal of CO2-neutral flying” the statement stresses the relevance of “alternative sustainable fuels – in particular synthetic power-to-liquid fuels”. The German government intends to foster the development of these fuels to marketable products in future.

According to the latest IEA report  (page 143) aviation accounted for  2.8% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2017, while air passenger travel is expected to more than double to almost 16 000 billion km/yr by mid-century. The IEA estimates that the CO2 price that would be needed to encourage a shift to power-to-liquids in aviation in the long term vary widely, from USD 115/tCO2 to USD 660/tCO2, with the lower value accounting for the possible value provided to the wider energy system via the electricity grid (ETC, 2018a; Malins, 2017).

Photo: H2 prototype plane, courtesy NASA/University of Illinois