In order to make enough sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for ‘Jet Zero’ to be achieved, half the UK’s farmland would have to be devoted to the cause.
That’s according to a report by the Royal Society, which claims that if farmland wasn’t sacrificed, more than double its entire renewable electricity supply would be required.
An aim has been set by the government for net zero by 2050 – but the researchers claim aside from the production of SAF needing to increase, new planes and infrastructure will also need to be built to accommodate this change.
Biofuels, green hydrogen, e-fuels and ammonia are being considered as fuels that would create a dip in aviation’s carbon footprint.
Biofuels are made from crops and waste; producing enough to power the Jet Zero vision would require half of all agriculture in the UK, the report reveals.
The other fuels mentioned require double the renewable electricity capacity currently in place.
British aviation caused 8% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 – and the Royal Society argues much more research will need to be done to understand how to truly decarbonise the industry.
The Department for Transport responded: “Our Jet Zero strategy sets out how we can achieve net zero emissions from UK aviation by 2050, without directly limiting demand for aviation. SAFs and hydrogen are key elements of this and we will ensure that there is no impact on food crops.”