FairFuel ǀ Simply fly green? – Friday

by time news

Aviation fuel is now being produced in Emsland and it is said to be climate-friendly: “FairFuel” is the name of the project in which water is separated into oxygen and hydrogen by electrolysis. The energy-intensive process is powered by green electricity, then the hydrogen is converted into synthetic fuel with carbon dioxide via intermediate steps. A refinery north of Hamburg then turns it into kerosene of the “Jet A1” brand.

The plant was not built by an airline or an energy company. The client is the climate protection organization Atmosfair, a non-profit company that has so far offered a greenhouse gas calculator for air travel and compensation projects for the climate debt caused by flying. “With the facility in Werlte, we are showing that climate-neutral kerosene is feasible,” says managing director Dietrich Brockhagen. Atmosfair is planning regular operation for the first quarter of 2022. The climate-friendly drive variant is twice as expensive as normal kerosene. Lufthansa still buys it: “With the sustainable kerosene ‘made in Germany’ we are offering our customers an innovative range of climate-friendly flying,” explains Christina Foerster, member of the Deutsche Lufthansa Executive Board.

So does new technology save our comfort of life? The Germans are travel world champions, according to the tourism index, we spent an incredible 1.7 billion private travel days in the pre-Corona year 2019. “We don’t have that much renewable energy at all that we can make flies climate-neutral this way,” says Andreas Knie, mobility researcher and professor of sociology at the TU Berlin. Because green electricity should not just let us fly, but: It should heat (heat pump), produce steel (“green hydrogen”), rebuild the industry (chemical industry, mechanical engineering). According to Knie, however, we only have 50 percent green electricity in the grids, and it’s not even enough for the electricity sector.

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In fact, the expansion of wind power in particular has slowed down considerably in recent years – especially in the federal states that are governed by the Union. In Bavaria, for example, eight new wind turbines were installed in 2020, seven in Saarland and three in Saxony. In Brandenburg, on the other hand, 70 new wind turbines were connected to the grid. Nevertheless, the wind turbine manufacturer Vestas will close its plant in Lusatia at the end of the year. Especially here, where new green jobs are supposed to stimulate structural change, 460 employees in rotor blade production are losing their jobs.

But couldn’t green technology keep our mobility going if there was enough green electricity? “You can’t just electrify the 48 million cars that exist in Germany,” says mobility researcher Knie, at least not at the time that would be necessary for the path to climate neutrality. 20 percent of emissions in Germany come from mobility, only industry and the energy sector are responsible for more. However, emissions there have fallen very sharply since 1990, unlike in the transport sector, where they have increased.

In fact, an e-car, measured over its life cycle, is much more climate-friendly than an internal combustion engine, says Knie, but: “We will not solve the climate problem in traffic with technology alone.” Local public transport – a different kind of mobility is necessary. Andreas Knie: “That also includes doing without.” For example: on the next flight.

Atmosfair sees it the same way. It is true that when the “FairFuel” kerosene is burned, only as much carbon dioxide comes from the engine as was previously removed from the atmosphere during its manufacture. “However, e-kerosene also produces a number of other climate effects, similar to fossil kerosene,” explains Dietrich Brockhagen. Above all, this includes the formation of contrails and ozone at high altitudes, which even warm the climate twice as much as pure CO2 of kerosene. That is why even the manufacturer of “FairFuel” recommends: “Flying less is better for the climate.”

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