The world is on Code Red! The global community is going to gather for COP 26 in the UK at the end of this month. Major changes need to be made urgently to deal with the effects of climate change. The UK is jointly hosting the UN summit where more than 190 world leaders, government representatives, negotiators, businesses including defence and aerospace are expected to gather. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be reaching Glasgow straight from the G-20 summit in Rome.
Ahead of COP 26, Kishore Jayaraman, President – India & South Asia, Rolls-Royce shares details with Huma Siddiqui on what the company is doing towards zero carbon by 2050, and electric planes.
Following are excerpts
To meet climate change challenges what is RR doing differently?
At Rolls-Royce we are committed to the global target of net zero carbon by 2050. To this end, we are working to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of our existing products and working on disruptive innovations which will accelerate the journey to net zero. We recently successfully flight tested our all-electric plane called ACCEL, which will be a net zero carbon urban mobility solution, suited for air taxis.We are also working on several other climate-friendly solutions such as microgrids and hydrogen fuel cells and hope to be part of the solution to address climate change.
For any solution to work, we believe there has to be collaboration. Sustainable fuel is one such area and we have been working with the industry on advocating and accelerating the availability of alternative fuels. We have worked in partnership with the fuels industry over the last couple of years to support acceptance and production of SAF. At the same time, we are also working to make our aerospace products compatible with SAF and similarly for our power systems products to be compatible with alternate fuels.
In terms of technology- has RR drawn some plan to ensure that the aircraft both military and civilian leave very less carbon footprint?
As shared above we are working on disruptive innovations like ACCEL, the world’s fastest all-electric plane that will start a new and exciting era in the future of electric aviation. The flight recently completed a 15-minute flight test, and we are very excited about this project. Indeed, our digital team of engineers and data scientists at R2 Data Labs in India are also contributing to the ACCEL project. Their work will enable the flight to achieve greater efficiency and to attain optimum speed for its world record attempt.
We are also playing an integral role in the Team Tempest Combat Aircraft programme, one of the UK’s most ambitious technological endeavours to deliver a highly advanced, adaptable, and affordable military combat air system which will play a key role in the nation’s defence and security.
We are committed to making all our products compatible with Sustainability Aviation Fuels (SAF). In our efforts to accelerate the transition of long-haul aviation to net zero, we have recently announced our commitment to make all our Trent engines compatible with 100% SAF by 2023. Rolls-Royce powers 40% of long-haul aircrafts and with this, we hope to demonstrate that net zero carbon operation is possible. We have also tied-up with other industry partners on this journey and we are happy that Airbus has committed to fly on up to 50% blended SAF, and Shell has committed to produce 2million tonnes of SAF per year by 2025.
Over the years we have focused our R&D expenditure towards low carbon solutions including hybrid, hydrogen, and electric power. We’re using data and digital twins to predict how an engine will behave throughout its lifetime – this means we can conduct fewer physical tests and avoid unnecessary emissions. We also use DATA from our fleet of engines to help airlines use less fuel. We are also working on microgrids – this will help us utilise renewable energy sources as much as possible, without the power cutting out and we see tremendous applications for this technology in India.
The engines the company provides- how do you compare with the others in the market- technology wise?
At Rolls-Royce, we have always pioneered cutting-edge technologies that deliver the cleanest, safestand most competitive solutions to our planet’s vital power needs.We continue to create best-in-class powering solutions across civil aerospace, defence and power systems. Across our product portfolio, we are sharply focused on safety and reliability of all our products andare now working to ensure that all our products are also aligned to our sustainability goals.
For example, our IntelligentEngine vision aims to help people fly more reliably and efficiently than ever before. Through this, we are enabling digital technology solutions that can help make our engines more efficient and productive. From developing automated robots that crawl through engines to make assessments and diagnose problems, or designing, testing, and maintaining engines in the digital sphere, the IntelligentEngine philosophy runs through every aspect of our business.
In our Power Systems business, we are focusing on developing a class of hybrid systems with lower emissions and lower environmental impact. These systems are designed to deliver more power; essentially more electric, more intelligent power. Increasingly, our reciprocating engine family will be integrated into systems solutions, such as hybrid trains, hybrid ship propulsion and microgrids.
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth is in the Bay of Bengal- the RR engines are on board- so is the company offering the same for INS Vikrant?
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group tour is an opportunity for Rolls-Royce to engage with Indian naval customers and showcase our capabilities and 80-plus years’ of experience in providing marine products and solutions. Rolls-Royce is the only provider of marine gas turbines into integrated full-electric propulsion (IFEP) powered destroyers and aircraft carriers. Our MT30 is the most power dense gas turbine powering naval fleets suitable for next generation warships, and we are excited to familiarise our customers with its advantages as well as with our other offerings.