The UK Royal Air Force’s fighter jets and helicopters are expected to be partly-powered with green fuel made from alternative fuel sources, including wood, algae, household waste, hydrogenated fats and oils, alcohols, sugars, along with other sustainable fuel sources, within a 30-year period, the country's Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said in a statement.
As part of its Net Zero carbon emissions target by 2050 (NZ50) strategy, the MOD is planning to power RAF aircraft, including F-35s, Typhoons, and Wildcat helicopters, with up to 50% green fuel sources. MOD chiefs expect such a move to lead to a significant reduction of the military’s “contributions to carbon and greenhouse gas emissions”. The ministry estimated the CO2 emissions cut to be as much as up to a fifth.
Wallace said that the UK is seeking to partly-power with green fuel not only military aircraft, but civilian aviation as well.
“The UK is leading the way in sustainability and by refining our aviation fuel standards we are taking simple yet effective steps to reduce the environmental footprint of defence,” Wallace said. “As we strive to meet this Government's Net Zero carbon emissions target by 2050, it is right that we step up to spearhead these positive changes across both military and civilian sectors.”
In November, new MOD aviation fuel standards came into force as one of measure considered in the ministry’s Climate Change and Sustainability Review, focusing on initiatives from the MOD's NZ50 strategy. Led by Lt Gen Richard Nugee, the review is set to be released early 2021.
UK officials hope that other nations, including Australia and NATO-member states, follow in the footsteps of the UK.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that he hopes to see civilian aviation also using green and sustainable power sources.
“Making all forms of transport more sustainable is critical if we are to meet our ambitious Net Zero target,” Shapps said. “From powering RAF jets to the passenger planes which get us from A to B, sustainable fuels will play a huge part in decarbonising aviation and I'm excited to explore the possibilities as we make transport cleaner, greener, and more efficient.”
Commenting on the MOD’s NZ50 plans, Lieutenant General Richard Wardlaw OBE, Chief Defence Logistics and Support, said that part-powering RAF fighter jets and helicopters with sustainable fuels is only “the start of a journey” aimed at reducing the UK military’s "environmental impact while enhancing our operational capabilities”.
“This is a significant change for Defence, enabling us to take a key step towards reducing our CO2 footprint, consistent with our wider ambition for achieving NZ50. And this is only the beginning,” Wardlaw OBE said. “We are at the start of a journey to adopt a range of greener policies and new greener technologies, so that we can reduce our environmental impact while enhancing our operational capabilities.”