Airtravel Energy Anxiety

We should all have learned by now that there is nothing more imporant on this Earth than airtravel. It doesn’t matter if the world is fighting a pandemic, the airtravel industry gets bailed out and can skirt the rules, lie about airborn airquality and literally telling governments ‘checking for Covid is not our job!’. Holland today may have sacrificed many lives because the KLM and Schiphol thought nothing of restrictions to their activities. We have no choice to submit to this tyranny..

Funny then that this vastly polluting industry, burning billions of gallons of fossil fuel every year, dumping many tons of half burned soot around airports (and chemicals used to prevent molding in the fuel), that this industry is looking for alternatives. Spoiler : There is none in the short term.

But who would have guessed humanity had such a powerfull ally in the search for non-fossil, non-greenhouse gas emitting fuels! Apart from this strange desire to use Hydrogen as a fuel, which also requires 70% more energy than batteries, which then of course needs to be produced. Its strange how these legacy industries produce such pressing demands for rapid deployment of renewables. And perhaps a blessing?

The options are several, but in any case this promises real action on growing biomass in new ways or generating sizable amounts of renewable energy. The world now uses almost 3 TerraWattHour of energy to fly. That is 3.000.000 MegaWattHours (MWh). You can produce that energy with 3.000.000 hectares of solar PV panels, which takes about 30000 km2. So if you cover 3/4 of Holland with solar panels our country could power global airtravel. Sadly there is 70% loss in the proposed use of Hydrogen, so we need about 20000 km2 more, so we end up with 1.2 times the surface of Holland covered with PV. Ok, Let’s do it!

You’d say “But Biomass!!”, and true, this is also a great idea. Seaweed farms could grow a lot, its been known since the 70’s and was one of the first topics I wrote about on this blog. Of course this takes a lot of time and work to scale up, and of course energy to convert. Its more complicated than solar PV for sure. Wind same thing. Of course nobody will complain if the air travel industry steps into growing seaweed big, like say spend $100 Billion on actually growing seaweed in the pacific.

For now it seems these are just promises to keep people from shutting air travel down to minimal proportions until electric air travel becomes practical. That is what is needed. We should all have learned from stupid CCS projects that never go anywhere, or not maybe (aaargh).

I think that we can see electric airtravel over say 700 km pretty soon, for small planes (~50 passengers) and so to get to the USA from Europe yo’d have to make 6/7 hops? So with 6/7 floating airports in the Atlantic the trip can be made. Of course its easy to put floating solar power plants around those airports to generate the electricity. In case the option of seaweed is taken seriously (which it must be right?) creating floating habitats cheaper than complete ships will likely become an industry. Also a win! In any case, its good to have such a powerfull industry on the side of massive deployment of renewable energy!