For some time now, there has been more on airlines’ list of challenges than profitable route design, fleet renewal, competition from high-speed rail, costs or changing demand. Among these challenges is another one, increasingly crucial: reducing its environmental footprint, the same one that has opened the debate on the veto of short flights or new rates.
The sector knows this and has launched itself to devise different strategies to reduce its polluting emissions. On the table is sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the commitment to electric and hydrogen aircraft or even formulas such as the Airlander 10 zeppelin. In this race towards zero net carbon emissions, the manufacturer Airbus has decided to make a move and explore another strategy: hijack large amounts of CO2 and then bury them. As it is.
The solution proposed by Airbus is to use powerful fans to filter carbon dioxide from the air and store it “safely and permanently” in geological deposits. The starting point is relatively simple: if the group cannot eliminate emissions at source, it at least has the possibility of hunting that carbon later so as not to contribute to global warming.
Objective: reduce the impact on the environment
As Airbus emphasizes, the solution “complements” others that are already on the table and directly allow to emit less carbon dioxide, such as the SAF: “It could help multiple industries to reach their goals of net zero carbon emissions. For aviation, it is emerging as a promising complementary solution for the fuel of sustainable aviation and hydrogen.”
“Since the aviation industry cannot capture carbon emissions released into the atmosphere at their source, a direct airborne carbon capture and storage solution would allow the industry to extract the equivalent amount of emissions from its operations directly from atmospheric air. ”, notes the European manufacturer, one of the largest firms in the sector.
The challenge is not easy and to achieve it, Airbus has decided to take a step forward hand in hand with big seven airlines and groups, Air Canada, Air France-KLM, EasyJet, International Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic. Manufacturer and operators have just signed letters of intent -Lol, for its acronym in English- with the purpose of “exploring the possibilities” of the carbon dioxide capture system, better known as Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS).
Basically, the airlines have agreed to negotiate a possible advance purchase of carbon removal credits issued by 1PointFive, an Airbus partner and subsidiary of [Low Carbon Ventures](https://www.hartenergy.com/companies/oxy-low-carbon-ventures-llc#:~:text=Oxy%20Low%20Carbon%20Ventures%20(OLCV,Occidental’s%20business%20while%20reducing%20emissions. ) (Western). The agreement between Airbus and 1PointFive also includes the pre-purchase of credits for the elimination of 400,000 tons of CO2 over a period of four years. If the agreement goes ahead, the companies could use those titles from from 2025 to 2028.
“We’re seeing a strong interest by airlines to explore affordable and scalable carbon removal,” notes Julie Kitcher, Airbus CEO. These first letters of intent mark a step towards the use of this promising technology, both for Airbus’ decarbonisation plan and the industry’s ambition to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.”
From 1PointFive they point out that the credit formula represents a “practical, short-term and lower cost way” for the aviation sector to move towards decarbonization. In the Waypoint 2050 report, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) itself acknowledges that the sector will need ways to offset any emissions shortfalls that exceed the target.
Images Mika Baumeister (Unsplash) and Airbus
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