Take off for radical green
The EU has set itself ambitious environmental goals with the Green Deal. In order to realize the vision of a climate-neutral continent, aviation faces the challenge of a fundamental change: more efficient technologies, new forms of propulsion and SAF (sustainable aviation fuels).
According to the European Commission's definition, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are fuels that can be produced using non-fossil CO2 by power-to-liquid processes (synthetic fuels) or from residual materials such as biomass, municipal waste or fats of biological origin (biofuels). Hydrogen is also used as a relevant energy carrier. Hydrogen can be used to produce synthetic fuels. It will also be used directly as a fuel: for regional and short-haul flights in fuel cells and for medium-haul flights by direct combustion in aircraft turbines.
Sustainable fuels count as climate-friendly because their use releases only the CO2 used in their production. As a result, they have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. Globally, however, this potential is currently largely untapped, as SAFs account for only 0.05% of total jet fuel. The EU's goal, through the European Green Deal as well as the Fit for 55 package of measures, require emissions from the transport sector to be reduced by 90% by 2050 (compared to 1990) and sets blending obligations of SAFs from 2025 in the ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation. These fuels are one element alongside technological developments, operational improvements and market-based instruments to sustainably reduce emissions in aviation. This is also perceived by Austria as an opportunity for research activities and innovations by Austrian stakeholders for a green future.
New propulsion concepts such as electric & hybrid-electric propulsion, direct combustion of hydrogen or the use of biogenic or synthetic SAF require a holistic innovative development of new solutions for the aviation system. Its multiple requirements for aircraft dimensions & route categories, from development to system capability considerations involves joint actions by politics, industry and science and participation of all stakeholders.
On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) invited to the online workshop "Take Off for Radical Green" on 09.03.2022. The aim of the workshop was to think with interested stakeholders - beyond the individual organizational perspective - the future until 2040 "radical green" for aviation: What can we do together to create a unique selling point for the Austrian aviation (supply) industry and transport industry? Which necessary RTI initiatives/topics/projects on Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) - biofuels, synthetic fuels, hydrogen - development and system capability - are needed to achieve the green future?
Co-creation workshop for take off call "Radical Green" in fall 2022.
In line with European and national goals such as the ACARE (Advisory Council for Aviation Research in Europe) New Vision and the EU Green Deal, the BMK is currently working on the priority topic of energy transition in aviation. Austria wants to achieve the targets set by the EU not in 2050 but already in 2040, which makes a joint effort of all stakeholders necessary. Nationally, the BMK is working on a broad stakeholder process together with the FFG and AustriaTech to shape the 2022 fall call.
The stakeholder meeting held on 09.03. 2022 "Take Off for Radical Green" stakeholder workshop was held with participants from OEMs, suppliers, airports, research institutions, energy and system manufacturers, fuel manufacturers as well as universities of applied sciences, universities and interest groups to work out what can be done together to create a unique selling point for the Austrian aviation (supply) industry and transport sector as well as what RTI initiatives, topics or projects are needed for SAFs - biofuels, synthetic fuels, hydrogen - development and system capability. The idea and brainstorming process identified benefits and needs and analyzed which actors and processes Austria will need in the future. The results are essential inputs for the preparation of the Take Off fall call.
Topics discussed in the workshop serve as input for developing and deriving measures on how a green future can best be supported by funding agencies.
Through brainstorming methods, a look into the future and contributions from within and outside the organizational perspectives of the participants, an understanding of commonly needed actions and necessary RTI (Research, Technology and Innovation) initiatives, topics and projects was developed.
"What can we do together to create a unique selling point for the Austrian aviation (supply) industry and transport sector?"
The participants developed a future perspective in which all aviation stakeholders consistently act "green" - in the sense of the EU goals. Group discussions outside the organizational perspective emphasized that there will be no single technology, but a variety of solutions, all of which will contribute to a climate-neutral future.
In order to create a unique selling proposition for Austria, the participants suggested, for example, providing infrastructure for new drive concepts at airports at an earlier stage or pursuing certain technology paths more intensively. Cross-industry learning from the automotive, energy or shipping industries enables a holistic view as a starting point for planning cooperation projects. Providing funds and know-how for the local production of energy sources can also help Austria achieve a unique selling point from a stakeholder perspective.
"What are the necessary RTI initiatives/topics/projects on Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) - biofuels, synthetic fuels, hydrogen - development and system capability - to achieve the green future?"
Discussions in the second part of the workshop highlight political/legal, economic/ecological, and technology- and actor-driven issues. Simplified political framework conditions for development and implementation, openness to technology, the inclusion of the entire ecosystem and the promotion of international cooperation are key conclusions from the perspective of the creative processes developed in the individual groups.
At the end of the workshop, all participants addressed the question of how a call for proposals for SAF (biofuels, synthetic fuels and hydrogen), development and system capability can optimally support Austrian expertise. The promotion of international cooperation such as public-private partnerships or lighthouse projects and regulatory mechanisms to ensure investment security were emphasized. Building up know-how by promoting young scientists and experts is just as essential as thinking about the entire ecosystem, from producer to end user. A central topic was how renewable green hydrogen can be used in engines or storage systems in the future, as well as closer cooperation between fuel producers and airports or engine and motor manufacturers.