Rolls-Royce launches pathway to power net zero economy

Posted on 17 June, 2021 by Advance 

Rolls-Royce have setout its near-term actions to achieve net zero by 2050 at the latest, with a pathway that shows how the company will focus its technological capabilities to play a leading role in enabling significant elements of the global economy to get to net zero carbon by 2050, including aviation, shipping and power generation.

Image courtesy Rolls-Royce

This includes the development of new technologies, enabling an accelerated take-up of sustainable fuels and driving step-change improvements in efficiency. One year on from joining the UN Race to Zero campaign, Rolls-Royce are announcing plans to make all their new products compatible with net zero by 2030 and all their products in operation compatible by 2050. These products power some of the most carbon intensive parts of the economy.

Rolls-Royce are also introducing short-term targets – linked to executive remuneration – to accelerate the take-up of sustainable fuels, which have a key role to play in the decarbonisation of some of its markets, especially long-haul aviation. They are already well advanced with net zero and zero carbon technologies across their Power Systems portfolio and as a result have sufficiently reliable data to be able to define a science-based interim target to reduce by 35% the lifetime emissions of new products sold by the business by 2030.

There is no single solution to net zero and so Rolls-Royce are innovating across multiple areas simultaneously. However, the pace and prioritisation of technological solutions, as well as global consistency and collaboration in policy, will also be key to success. Consequently, Rolls-Royce are expanding collaboration with partners, industry leaders and governments across the three critical systems in which they operate – transport, energy and the built environment – to accelerate progress. These hard to abate sectors are all identified by the UN Race to Zero as requiring technological breakthroughs in order to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals and limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce, said: “At Rolls-Royce, we believe in the positive, transforming potential of technology. We pioneer power that is central to the successful functioning of the modern world. To combat the climate crisis, that power must be made compatible with net zero carbon emissions. This is a societal imperative as well as one of the greatest commercial and technological opportunities of our time. Our products and services are used in aviation, shipping and energy generation, where demand for power is increasing as the world’s population grows, becomes increasingly urbanised, more affluent and requires more electricity. These sectors are also among those where achieving net zero carbon is hardest. As a result, our innovative technology has a fundamental role to play in enabling and even accelerating, the overall global transition to a net zero carbon future. We believe that as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and looks to build back better, global economic growth can be compatible with a net zero carbon future and that Rolls-Royce can help make that happen.”

Nigel Topping, UN High Level Champion for COP26, added: “Winning the race to a zero emission economy by 2050 at the latest requires radical collaboration and technology breakthroughs across energy, transport and the built environment – critical parts of the economy that are also among the hardest to decarbonise. By organising its industrial technology capabilities to deliver the system change society needs, Rolls-Royce is putting itself at the forefront of the defining economic opportunity of our time; one that customers want to buy, investors want to back, and the brightest talent want to apply their skills to.”

Rolls-Royce have many years of experience in pioneering solutions to some of society’s toughest technological challenges and, increasingly, have focused that effort on the creation of sustainable power. Rolls-Royce already make the world’s most efficient large civil aero-engine in service today, the Trent XWB, and its successor, UltraFan, will be 25% more efficient than first generation Trent engines, significantly improving the economics of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

In addition, Rolls-Royce have built a microgrid business and designed a small modular reactor (SMR) power plant with the potential to transform how we power cities or industrial processes.

Rolls-Royce are investing in battery storage technology, demonstrating fuel cells and building a leading position in all-electric and hybrid-electric flight. Next month Rolls-Royce's Spirit of Innovation all-electric plane will take to the sky as it prepares to break the world all-electric flight speed record. Collectively and individually, these technologies represent the extensive expertise Rolls-Royce has to enable a net zero world.

In line with the commitments Rolls-Royce have made under the UN Race to Zero campaign, they are aligning their business model to the Paris Climate Agreement goals and setting out the pathway that will take them to net zero and are already boosting their research and development (R&D) expenditure to pivot towards lower and net zero carbon technologies, moving from approximately 50% of gross R&D spend today to at least 75% by 2025.

For an executive summary of the Rolls-Royce net zero report visit

and for the full pathway, including the steps Rolls-Royce are taking to lead the transition to net zero carbon, visit