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RAF leads the way to a green future

25th November 2021 - 11:53 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The first aircraft powered by synthetic fuel was achieved by the Royal Air Force and Zero Petroleum Limited in Kemble, Cirencester, UK, on 2 November 2021. (Photo: Zero Petroleum)

Sir Mike Wigston spoke at King’s College London on the RAF’s plan to be NetZero by 2040 and the milestones along the way.

The Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Mike Wigston, spoke on 23 November about the RAF’s ambitious plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.

It is appropriate that the RAF is leading the way to carbon neutrality, he said, as the service is responsible for around half of the MoD’s carbon footprint.

The first milestone will be developing RAF Leeming into a carbon-neutral airbase by 2025, the lessons learned will then be implemented across other bases.

However, the largest contributor to the RAF’s high level of emissions is the fuel used to fly. Wigston noted that aviation kerosene accounts for three-quarters of the RAF’s carbon footprint.

Advancements are being made to move away from reliance on kerosene. Many platforms now operate a 50/50 blend of synthetic fuels and kerosene. Moreover, the world’s first successful flight fuelled entirely by synthetic fuels occurred last week, Wigston said.

He added that the first zero-emission aircraft is expected by the end of the decade, which is likely to be a training aircraft.

Therein lies the problem, Wigston added; while synthetic fuels may be used on training aircraft, the technology is not advanced enough to power the next generation of combat aircraft.

There is much work to do, as he explained: ‘It will take decades, and I tell my next generation of leaders that it will largely fall to them to deliver’.

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