Environmental burdens of synthetic aviation fuels
International aviation is an important contributor the Swiss greenhouse gas emissions and past trends suggest further growth of these emissions once current corona-related travel restrictions will be no longer in place. As opposed to road transportation, direct electrification using battery electric vehicles is difficult for aviation. Therefore, synthetic fuels based on renewable energy resources represent a promising alternative for reduction of GHG emissions. Synthetic fuels include both so-called “power-to-liquid” and “sun-to-liquid” fuels. However, their production chains can be complex and partially energy intensive and therefore, the environmental burdens associated with their production must be evaluated from a life-cycle perspective including all steps in the production chain. The Technology Assessment group is performing such an LCA of synthetic aviation fuels on behalf of the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), collaborating with Synhelion, developer of production processes of “sun-to-liquid” fuels. The analysis is supposed to identify the most environmentally friendly fuel options, their environmental hot-spots, and the overall potential for reduction of impacts on climate change from aviation using such synthetic fuels. Results are expected in autumn 2021.