Easyjet bets everything on technology and abandons carbon offsets

Easyjet is refining its path towards net zero emissions. The British low-cost airline has just presented, on September 26, its roadmap to achieve this objective in 2050. It is based solely on technological pillars, in accordance with the line drawn by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi – Science Based Targets). , founded by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), the United Nations Global Compact and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). An approach that will lead the company to stop its carbon offset program.

After several initiatives in recent yearsTherefore, Easyjet continues with its intense communication around the reduction of its environmental footprint. The roadmap presented by its CEO, Johan Lundgren, is based on five pillars that should allow it to reduce its emissions by 78% per passenger and kilometer by 2050, the rest coming from carbon capture. What to get rid of compensation measures, according to him.

NEO at the forefront

The first pillar is the renewal of the fleet, well advanced with the order for 227 aircraft of the Airbus A320 NEO family, including 59 already delivered, for an estimated amount of 21,000 million dollars, according to list prices. With a gain in fuel burn compared to conventional A320s, NEOs must provide the bulk of the decarbonisation effort by 2035, with the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

At this point, Johan Lundgren assures that his company is prepared to meet its needs and in particular the European incorporation mandates for the next five years, which foresee a 2% SAF in the total fuel consumed in 2025, then 5% in 2030, thanks to its partnership with Q8 Aviation.

The leader, however, assures that he wants to go further with the need to prepare new generations such as synthetic fuels (e-fuel or power-to-liquid, the result of the use of carbon- and hydrogen-free electricity and carbon capture) .

Modernized airspace and optimized procedures

The next two pillars relate to airspace modernisation, with improved organization in the UK and Europe with the Single European Sky as tools currently being deployed for around 10% emission reductions, and with improved of operational efficiency.

On this last point, one of the priorities is the generalization of the descent profile optimization (DPO) and continuous descent approach (CDA) procedures. Easyjet has thus announced an investment of several million pounds sterling for a software retrofit of its entire fleet so that it can implement this type of procedure.

According to Wouter Van Wersch, Airbus Regional Vice President for Europe, DPO and CDA should save 98 tonnes of fuel and 311 tonnes of CO2 per aircraft per year, representing a potential reduction of 88,600 tonnes of CO2 for the entire A320 fleet per year. . He also estimates the noise footprint to drop by 10dB during approach phases.

Easyjet believes in “green” aircraft

The last pillar is the introduction of zero emission aircraft, mainly devices capable of using hydrogen either via combustion in heat engines, or via Fuel cells that power electric motors. Easyjet notably partners with Rolls-Royce to develop an engine powered directly by hydrogen.

The two partners thus presented a first demonstrator based on a modified AE 2100 turboprop, which will soon have to carry out a first test campaign on the ground. Grazia Vittadini, director of technology and strategy at Rolls-Royce, expressed confidence in the tests to come and assured that it is only a first step, the objective is to fly.

In Easyjet’s vision, these future generations of aircraft should contribute almost half of the CO2 emission reductions by 2050. A speech that seems very optimistic with a high degree of confidence in technological advances. A fervent supporter of hydrogen, Guillaume Faury himself, executive president of Airbus, recognized at the last Air Forum in Paris that it is more a technology of the second half of the century whose “impact will continue to be very limited” before 2050.

Prohibited Carbon Offsets

Easyjet’s ambitions are not without counterparts. First of all, Johan Lundgren had an effect by announcing the abolition of his carbon offset program. This will remain valid for all tickets purchased at the end of the year for departures until September 2023. It will only be available as an option for customers who so wish. However, this program had made it possible to offset 8.7 million tons of CO2 since November 2019, but it does not correspond to the SBTi line, which does not take into account offsets outside sectors and mechanisms such as the European quota trading system ( EU STD). o The ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Plan for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Johan Lundgren assured that it was only a transitory measure from the beginning. Without revealing its cost, he assures that future technological investments will be much higher. However, he does not intend to bear the burden alone and therefore calls for action by governments. Easyjet asks as a priority to define an incentive framework for the implementation of carbon-free flights or the development of zero-emission technologies, the integration of hydrogen in the European initiative RefuelEU Aviation in the same way as SAF, direct taxes on passengers linked to emissions towards the decarbonisation effort, or even the acceleration of the Single European Sky.

But the orange company also wants to invest in renewable energies, specifically for the creation of green hydrogen for aviation and the development of the necessary infrastructures for its operation in airports (supply, storage, refueling), which will weigh heavily in the coming years. . .