Aviation establishes hydrogen alliance

The Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA) alliance has been set up to accelerate zero carbon aviation by a group of leading companies in the UK aviation and renewable energy sectors.

The group includes easyJet, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Ørsted, GKN Aerospace and Bristol Airport, and will work to capitalise on the various options for decarbonising the aviation sector, including sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), and synthetic fuels or batteries. Additionally, the group believes more attention should be paid to the potential of the direct use of hydrogen, it said.

It comes as Airbus is developing new hydrogen powered aircraft with the aim of entering commercial service from 2035 and Rolls-Royce has already proven that hydrogen could power a jet engine following successful ground tests in 2022. Furthermore, many smaller operators are making rapid progress on hydrogen-powered aircraft, such as ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen.

The group said it will work with the government, local authorities, and the aviation and hydrogen sectors to enable the UK to fulfil its potential as a global leader in this critical application of hydrogen technology, including setting out the pathway for scaling up the infrastructure and the policy, regulatory and safety frameworks required for commercialisation.

The alliance said the government needs to be focused on three key areas: supporting the delivery of the infrastructure needed to be a global leader; ensuring the aviation regulatory regime is hydrogen ready; and transforming the funding for hydrogen aviation research and development support into a 10 year programme.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet and first Chair of HIA, said:  “There is no doubt that the UK has the potential to become a world leader in hydrogen aviation, which could bring with it a £34bn per annum boost to the country’s economy by 2050, but in order to capture this opportunity, rapid change is needed and the time to act is now. 

“We must work together to deliver the radical solutions required for a hard to abate industry like aviation so we can protect and maximise the benefits that it brings to the UK economy and society and that we know British consumers want to be preserved.  

Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer at Rolls-Royce, said: “Collaboration is key when it comes to achieving our net zero ambitions as an industry, which is why we are proud to be part of the Hydrogen in Aviation Alliance.”

Sabine Klauke, Chief Technology Officer at Airbus said: “Joining our peers from across the UK aviation landscape in a targeted approach to policy and investment action brings us closer to a decarbonised future of flying.”  

Olivia Breese, Senior Vice President and Head of Power-to-X for Ørsted, commented: “Alliances such as the HIA are essential to bring together different actors across the value chain to support and accelerate the role hydrogen can, and must, play in the UK.”

Image courtesy of Airbus

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