Ryanair will aim to power 12.5% of its flights using sustainable aviation fuel (SAFs) by 2030. The announcement came just days after rival group, IAG, committed to powering at least 10% of flights through SAF by the same date.
How will Ryanair get there?
The airline committed to the target as it announced a €1.5 million donation to launch the Ryanair Sustainable Aviation Research Centre. The centre, which is a partnership between Ryanair and Trinity College Dublin, will employ six people to investigate how to increase sustainability in aviation.
Speaking about the commitment, Thomas Fowler, Ryanair’s director of Sustainability said that:
As Europe’s largest airline, we have a responsibility to minimise our impact on the environment, to make flying greener and lead our industry towards a more sustainable way of flying while keeping our fares low and affordable for all EU families”.
What are SAFs?
SAFs come from variety of sources, such as used cooking oil, feedstock, and crops, rather than fossil fuels like traditional jet fuel. SAFs can reduce carbon emissions by up to 70%.
SAFs are currently mixed with traditional jet fuels, usually around 50% SAF to 50% traditional fuel. This percentage is known as the blend. The higher the blend, the less carbon an aircraft will emit.
Destination 2050, a report by Europe’s aviation industry, said that if SAFs are given “strong political support”, then they could account for 83% of all jet fuel by 2030. SAFs currently make up just 6%.
SAFs provide a good medium-term solution to aviation’s emission crisis. The fact that SAFs can be used in existing aircraft and infrastructure makes a transition to the fuel easier.
However, SAFs are currently still 2-4 times more expensive than traditional jet fuel, this price difference will need to be reduced if airlines are to make the switch. The devastation of airline’s finances, caused by the pandemic, greatens the need for this price reduction of SAFs.
The commitments of Ryanair and IAG represent a significant boost for European demand for SAFs, the race is now on to scale up production and bring down costs.
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