SWISS to become first airline in the world to use solar fuel

Pictured: Philipp Stocker, Pilot; Erin Beilharz, Lufthansa CleanTech Hub; Gianluca Ambrosetti, Co-CEO, Synhelion; Dieter Vranckx, CEO, SWISS; Carmen Murer, Head of Communications, Synhelion; Jan Pechstein, Head of Corporate Emissions Management & SAF, Lufthansa Group; Melanie Heiniger, Corporate Responsibility, SWISS; Philipp Furler, Co-CEO, Synhelion; Nadège von Hansen, Flight Attendant.

SWISS and Lufthansa Group have announced a strategic collaboration with clean energy company Synhelion to bring its solar aviation fuel to market. This will make SWISS the first airline in the world to use solar kerosene. The process devised by Synhelion uses concentrated sunlight to produce carbon-neutral kerosene. With this collaboration, SWISS and Synhelion are playing a pioneering role in the production and the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

“Our team-up with Synhelion is founded on our shared vision to make carbon-neutral flying in regular flight operations possible through the use of solar fuel,” explains SWISS Chief Executive Officer Dieter Vranckx. “We are proud that SWISS will be the first airline in the world to fly with solar kerosene. In partnering with Synhelion, we are supporting Swiss innovation and are actively pursuing and promoting the development, the market introduction and the scaling-up of this highly promising technology for producing sustainable fuels.”

Synhelion has developed a key technology for manufacturing SAF from renewable energy sources. The procedure uses concentrated solar heat to manufacture syngas which can then be synthesised into kerosene using standard industrial processes. This sun-to-liquid fuel closes the fuel carbon cycle: when combusted, it will only produce as much CO2 as went into its manufacture. The new fuel is expected to make a major contribution to effectively decarbonising air transport.

Moreover, Synhelion is working to build the world’s first-ever facility for the industrial production of solar fuel in Jülich, Germany, this year. SWISS is set to become the first customer for the solar kerosene in 2023. Under the collaboration now concluded, SWISS and the Lufthansa Group will support the development of Synhelion’s planned commercial fuel production facility in Spain, too.

SWISS will be substantially increasing its use of sustainable aviation fuels in the next few years to help achieve its climate objectives. In view of the limited availability of biofuels, however, alternatives will be required. “This is why we are actively supporting the development of solar fuels,” stresses SWISS CEO Vranckx. “We want to be a pioneer in their use. So our involvement with Synhelion is a key element in our long-term sustainability strategy.”

“We believe in a globalised world connected by climate-friendly mobility,” adds Dr. Philipp Furler, Synhelion’s co-founder and CEO. “Our next-generation carbon-neutral solar kerosene is an economically and ecologically viable substitute for fossil fuels. The commitment of SWISS and the Lufthansa Group underlines the aviation sector’s keen interest in our solar fuel. And we are looking forward already to the day the first SWISS aircraft takes off with our solar kerosene.”



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