Engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has announced plans to decarbonise its operations with the goal of achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
The UK-based company said it would ensure all of its engines designed for civil aircraft are compatible with 100 percent sustainable aviation fuels by 2023, and reduce the lifetime emissions of some of its new products by 35 percent by 2030.
To achieve this, the company plans to focus 75 percent of its R&D spending on low-carbon and net-zero technologies by 2025, up from about 50 percent today. It typically spends more than £1 billion a year on R&D, although that fell in 2020 as the pandemic strained finances.
It is also considering using small modular reactors to produce an e-fuel, which could eventually replace sustainable jet fuel by the mid-2030s.
The company last year participated in the UN’s ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, which aims to push companies and investors to take low-carbon initiatives.
Rolls-Royce admitted its products “power some of the most carbon-intensive parts of the economy”, but said it would introduce short-term goals to accelerate the introduction of sustainable fuels that would be directly linked to “administration fees”. Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said:
“At Rolls-Royce, we believe in the positive, transformative potential of technology. We pioneer with strength that is central to the successful functioning of the modern world. To combat the climate crisis, that flow must be made compatible with net zero carbon emissions.
“This is a social necessity and also one of the greatest commercial and technological opportunities of our time. Our products and services are used in aviation, shipping and power generation, where the demand for power is increasing as the world population grows, becomes more urbanized, more prosperous and requires more electricity.
“These sectors are also among the sectors where achieving net zero carbon is the most difficult. As a result, our innovative technology plays a fundamental role in enabling and even accelerating the overall global transition to a carbon-free future.”
Large companies are coming under increasing pressure from investors and climate activists to report the emissions created when customers use their products. Nigel Topping, the UN’s “High Level Champion for COP26”, added:
“Winning the race to a zero-emission economy by 2050 at the latest will require radical collaboration and technological breakthroughs in energy, transportation and the built environment – crucial parts of the economy that are also among the most difficult to decarbonize.
“By organizing its industrial technological capabilities to provide for the systemic change society needs, Rolls-Royce places itself at the forefront of the defining economic opportunities of our time ; one that customers want to buy, support investors and the brightest talents want to apply their skills.”