EasyJet has become the first airline in the world to sign up to Airbus’ Carbon Capture Offer, which will use direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) technology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
DACCS technology removes carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere and stores it underground. This contrasts with carbon capture and storage (CCUS), which captures CO2 emissions from a specific source, such as a power plant or industrial facility.
Thomas Haagensen, group markets director at EasyJet, says that the technology, though still in its early stages of development, “has the potential to play a significant role in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors like aviation, alongside the continued development of low and zero emission solutions.”
CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere during aircraft operations cannot be directly eliminated at source, but with DACCS, an equivalent amount can be extracted from the air to offset those emissions generated during flight.
The agreement comes over a year after Airbus and a number of major airlines, including Air Canada, Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet, signed letters of intent to explore opportunities to secure a future supply of carbon removal credits from DACCS projects.
Julie Kitcher, executive vice president of communications, sustainability, and corporate affairs at Airbus, added: “Initiatives such as this one underline Airbus’ commitment to decarbonisation solutions for our industry and to bringing together airlines and industry players from all sectors in order to build a sustainable aviation ecosystem.”
The future of aviation
Aviation accounted for 2% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2022, making it a significant opportunity for global decarbonisation. However, it is also a hard-to-abate sector due to the nature of its emissions.
But, the industry has a few levers it can pull to decarbonise.
As discussed, DACCS technology has the potential to play a major role, but it is still in its early stages of development. More research and investment is needed to scale up the technology and make it more affordable.
Airlines are also looking to reduce in-flight emissions through the adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which is made from non-petroleum-based renewable materials. SAF can be blended with conventional jet fuel at a ratio of up to 50%, creating an aviation fuel that is significantly lower in lifecycle carbon emissions. The UK is hoping to become a world leader in the production of SAF.
Additionally, aircraft manufacturers are continually working to improve the efficiency of aircraft, reducing the amount of fuel required per trip, such as variations in wing shape or new aerodynamic designs.
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