Germany’s flagship airline, Lufthansa, has raised concerns about the energy intensity of less polluting synthetic kerosene, stating that it would require consuming half of Germany’s entire electricity output to shift to green fuels like e-kerosene. Lufthansa’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, highlighted that synthetic fuels manufactured using renewable energy sources are the most effective approach to reducing aviation carbon emissions. However, he expressed doubts about the availability of sufficient green electricity in Germany to produce these fuels.
Speaking at an aviation conference in Hamburg, Spohr stated, “We would need around half of Germany’s electricity to create enough of the fuels.” He also jokingly mentioned that he doesn’t think Economy and Energy Minister Robert Habeck would be willing to provide such a significant amount of electricity. Synthetic fuels, such as green kerosene derived from water, are considered the only technically viable option for decarbonizing air travel. The aviation industry has been striving to establish a market for a carbon-neutral version of kerosene to power aircraft. However, the process of creating these synthetic fuels requires large quantities of electricity generated from renewable resources to ensure carbon neutrality.
These efforts to decarbonize air travel come at a time when Germany is reliant on imported electricity due to its inability to meet domestic demand with domestically generated power. As the largest economy in the European Union, Germany has had to increase electricity imports after shutting down its last remaining nuclear power plants in favor of renewable energy sources.
In addition to energy challenges, Germany is also facing hurdles due to reduced Russian energy deliveries. The EU imposed sanctions on Moscow in response to the Ukraine conflict, leading to almost complete halting of energy imports from Russia. Before 2022, Germany relied on Russia for approximately 40% of its natural gas supply.
German industry executives have raised concerns about the potential for electricity shortages, which could negatively impact the country’s competitiveness as an industrial hub. Shortages in electricity supply would undoubtedly affect various sectors, including aviation.
In conclusion, Lufthansa’s warning about the energy intensity required to produce synthetic kerosene highlights the challenges faced by the aviation industry in achieving carbon neutrality. The reliance on renewable energy sources to generate sufficient electricity for producing green fuels poses a significant hurdle. Additionally, Germany’s dependence on imported electricity and the reduction in Russian energy deliveries further compound the energy challenges faced by the country. Overcoming these obstacles and finding sustainable alternatives for aviation fuel is crucial for effectively reducing carbon emissions in the air travel sector.