The world is at a crossroads in terms of climate change. While the Paris Agreement initially aimed to cut global warming by up to 2 degrees (and ideally by 1.5 degrees) by 2050, the goalposts have changed.
Scientists believe the world is warming even faster than earlier predictions led us to believe. We now need to hit this target by 2030 if we want to avoid a climate catastrophe. And the biggest tool in our collective arsenal is to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Why industries should use biogas-to-liquid fuels solutions to replace fossil fuels
Following a 7% decline in carbon dioxide emissions due to the pandemic lockdowns slashing the amount of fossil fuels being burned in the first half of 2020, emissions are leaping up again. The International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a warning in its Global Energy Review 2021 that emissions are set for the second highest annual rise in history this year.
As the world's economies continue to find ways to boost their COVID recovery, green credentials are falling by the wayside. There is a surging use of coal to generate electricity, particularly in Asia and the US. This is disturbing on many levels, not least because renewables are actually cheaper than dirty fossil fuels such as coal. Scientists say that emissions must be cut by 45% by the end of this decade if the world wants to limit global warming to 1.5C.
And for this to happen, the world needs to fundamentally change the way it works and its collective attitude towards renewable energy. We have seen that by the end of 2020, emissions are already rising and with the expected return of all air travel in the near future, this will surge even more.
The IEA is clear that action must be taken now at the highest levels and Governments must now take advantage of the cheaper, clean energy technologies that are already in existence. This is backed by climate economist Nicholas Stern who told the Guardian that 2021... "is a crucial and historic opportunity to build back differently from the polluting ways of the past and in particular to move much more quickly away from coal."
The aviation industry must convert to biofuels to slash emissions
In 2019, the UK Government launched its Net Zero review, which uses energy system integration at its core. This means that the energy infrastructure is pre-planned and operates in a holistic way. The idea is to link different energy suppliers, carriers, converters and users (aviation, transport, buildings etc) rather than treating each sector individually.
The overall aim, of course, is to implement reliable, resource-efficient and low-cost energy at the least cost to society as a whole.
The aviation industry is set to make a 100% return to the skies in the near future, and Renovare Fuels Chairman Matthew Stone is clear that aviation must go green. Pre-pandemic, 2019 stats from the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) show that flights produced 915 million tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide emissions.
And while there has been a hiatus and reduction in air travel during the pandemic, this was only ever temporary. Matthew says: "The number of flights conducted every year has increased consistently over the past few years. In fact, it's increased so much that a 2019 study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) highlighted that aviation carbon emissions increased between 2013 and 2018 70% faster than previously predicted."
Why biofuels offer the aviation industry viable and valuable opportunities
Aviation is at the top of the agenda when it comes to lowering emissions, and there is a need for a long-term, practical solution to improve the sustainability of the industry into the future.
It's not just the front-end of the aviation industry that can make significant sustainability changes. As Matthew explains, end-users can make a significant difference: "There are several ways that aviation businesses can offset emissions, but perhaps one of the most impactful is to blend a portion of biofuels into their traditional fuel stock.
There are loads of reasons why biofuels derived from waste offer valuable opportunities to cut emissions to aviation fuels users and airlines:
The fuel's feedstock can come from biodegradable waste of various sectors, such as agriculture.
It removes carbon from the atmosphere while it's being made.
It doesn't need any additional energy that would in itself raise emissions.
It doesn't compete with existing crops or produce.
Second gen biofuels, such as those that we make at Renovare Fuels are absolutely beneficial for the aviation industry. They offset emissions and could go a long way to lower overall levels around the world.
"Because our fuel is a direct replacement for traditional fuels with little or no blending requirement, coupled with the fact we can bolt onto existing waste processing, we can displace vast quantities of fossil fuels with more than 94% GHG savings," says Matthew.
Renovare Fuels is highly affordable and versatile and can potentially be used wherever middle distillate hydrocarbons are used."
The world is trying to recover from the pandemic, and this recovery must be green. And while changes to long-term green technology infrastructure are absolutely necessary, businesses must also take advantage of the technologies that are already available right now.
The use of these second-generation, tried and tested mature clean technology solutions should lead the way.