Aerospace Giants Team Up for Hydrogen-Powered Flight
A new consortium, comprising prominent industry players including Airbus, Bristol Airport, Easyjet, GKN Aerospace, Rolls Royce Holdings, and Ørsted, has officially launched to champion the advancement of hydrogen-powered aviation through enhanced research and development funding.
This groundbreaking alliance, known as the Hydrogen In Aviation (HIA) coalition, has set its sights on advocating for policies, financial support, and regulatory reforms aimed at accelerating the adoption of hydrogen-based aviation. The group believes that embracing low-carbon hydrogen fuel presents an extraordinary opportunity not only for the aviation sector but also for the broader economy.
The HIA coalition has pledged to collaborate closely with governmental bodies, local authorities, and both aviation and hydrogen industries. Their primary goal is to promote the widespread integration of hydrogen technology within the aviation sector. Furthermore, they have committed to developing a clear, actionable roadmap for the large-scale implementation of hydrogen-powered aviation.
The alliance has pinpointed three key areas for government intervention: facilitating the development of hydrogen infrastructure, preparing aviation regulations to accommodate hydrogen, and securing a dedicated 10-year government funding initiative for hydrogen aviation technology research and development.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of Easyjet and chair of HIA, emphasised the immense potential of the UK to become a global leader in hydrogen aviation. He underscored the urgency of taking swift action to implement innovative solutions for aviation's carbon challenges while preserving the industry's contributions to the UK's economy and society.
Hydrogen-powered aircraft represent just one of the industry's strategies to achieve decarbonisation, alongside alternatives like sustainable aviation fuels and electric planes. In contrast, some activists have called for measures to reduce the demand for air travel, such as levies on frequent flyers, corporate targets for reducing business travel, and restrictions on short-haul flights where alternative transportation options exist.
Nevertheless, the HIA asserts that investing in hydrogen technology can help retain the societal benefits of air travel, ensure the future competitiveness of the UK's aviation sector, and stimulate job creation. A government study conducted in 2021 suggested that a robust hydrogen economy could support over 9,000 jobs by 2030 and potentially up to 100,000 jobs by 2050.
Ørsted, a clean energy company with expertise in renewable hydrogen, highlighted the significance of cross-sector partnerships in driving down hydrogen costs and establishing critical infrastructure. Ørsted stressed the importance of collaborative efforts among policymakers, developers, customers, and supply chains to reduce expenses and promote the growth of hydrogen in the UK.
Simultaneously, the UK government announced plans to seek input through consultations regarding 'revenue certainty' mechanisms for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plants. While SAFs are expected to contribute to near-to-medium-term emissions reductions in aviation, hydrogen technologies are emerging as a viable long-term solution for achieving complete decarbonisation, especially for short-haul flights.
In parallel news, hydrogen specialist United H2 Ltd. disclosed ambitious expansion plans into the UK and Europe, with a commitment to invest £250 million over the next year. The company specialises in collaborative ventures centred on hydrogen with technical partners and has played a pivotal role in the success of various renewable energy and clean transport enterprises.
United H2 is set to establish offices in the UK and across Europe, citing the regions' advanced hydrogen technologies and infrastructure as ripe for significant business opportunities. The company is also finalising joint ventures, including a hydrogen refuelling station network project, in Europe, underscoring its commitment to fostering hydrogen-related advancements in these regions.
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Source: Business Green