Electric Planes Could Cut Climate Impact by 60%, But They Have a Problem

Pipistrel Alpha Electro E1706179947199

New Study Compares Environmental Impact of Electric vs. Gas-Powered Aircraft

A new study from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has found that electric planes could have a 60% lower climate impact than gas-powered planes. The study, which was published in the journal Nature Energy, compared the life cycle emissions of the Pipistrel Alpha Electro, a two-seater electric plane, to the emissions of the Pipistrel Alpha Trainer, a two-seater gas-powered plane.

The study found that the electric plane’s emissions were lower than the gas-powered plane’s emissions at all stages of the life cycle, including production, operation, and disposal. The difference was most pronounced during operation, when the electric plane emitted zero emissions from its tailpipe.

The study’s findings are significant because they suggest that electric planes could be a viable option for reducing the environmental impact of aviation. However, the study also found that there is a challenge associated with the production of electric planes. The production of electric planes requires more raw materials than the production of gas-powered planes, mainly due to the need for batteries.

“The main challenge for electric aviation is the production of batteries,” said Anders Nordelöf, one of the study’s authors. “The production of batteries is energy-intensive and requires the mining of critical raw materials.”

Nordelöf said that there are two ways to address this challenge. One is to increase the efficiency of battery production. The other is to develop batteries that have a longer lifespan or a higher energy density.

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The Pipistrel Alpha Electro is an electric twin-engine aircraft | photo: electrive.com

The study’s findings suggest that electric planes have the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact of aviation. However, there are challenges that need to be addressed before electric planes can become a mainstream option.

Source: Nature Energy

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