The target for the aviation industry to achieve net zero by 2050 is important but companies must begin decarbonising as quickly as possible, Rob Watson, director at Rolls-Royce Electrical, has said.

Talking to FINN at the Farnborough International Airshow in July, he said there were multiple routes to achieving this goal.

Engines turning and burning more efficiently

“We’re very focused on sustainability and at this air show, we’ve been front and centre talking about our view of what the industry needs to do to drive decarbonisation and sustainability,” he commented.

“We’ve got three pillars to that strategy. First, a big focus on ever increasingly efficient gas turbines, our core business, we’ve always been focused on how we get those engines turning and burning more efficiently, because that’s the quickest way to reduce fuel burn and therefore have an impact on carbon dioxide.

“The second part of that for the future is around sustainable aviation fuel, that’s not completely under our control, but making sure that our engines are ready to operate on SAF and fully certified on 100 per cent SAF as quickly as we can do it.

“The third element is looking at those new technologies, so what role might hydrogen play and what role can electrification play.”

Net zero by 2050

Through Rolls Royce’s decarbonisation strategy, the company will become a net zero carbon company across its value chain by 2050 at the latest, and has committed to playing a leading role in enabling the sectors in which they operate to get there too.

But Watson added: “Although we talk rightly about the target for 2050, we’ve just got to get moving as quickly as we can. How can we scale up SAF? How can we get more efficient engines in the sky and what can we do with this disruptive technology?”

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