Weatherwatch: study makes green case for electric planes
(The Guardian, 2 Feb 2024) Electric aircraft had lower climate impact than fossil fuel-powered aircraft after a quarter of its lifespan.
It seems obvious that electric planes are going to be more environmentally friendly that ones that run on fossil fuels. But the constant propaganda against electric cars from the fossil fuel lobby means it would be wise to have aeroplane arguments ready.
Researchers in Sweden have done a world-first life-cycle assessment of two similar two-seater aircraft, one electric and the other powered by standard fuel. The study found that after a quarter of the lifespan of the electric aircraft (about 1,000 hours of flying), the climate impact was lower than the fossil fuel-powered aircraft, provided that green electricity is used.
It took so long for the electric aircraft to come out in front because of the carbon dioxide involved in obtaining the rare minerals required to make the batteries. Since the research was done, the scientists note, battery technology has improved dramatically, providing batteries that last three times longer and making electric planes an even better bet.
One point the scientists omitted is that carbon dioxide released high in the atmosphere has an immediate adverse effect on the climate, making aircraft emissions particularly harmful.