Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and the budget airline easyJet, among other companies, have collaborated to form an alliance called 'Hydrogen in Aviation' (HIA) to promote the use of hydrogen as a fuel in the aviation sector of the United Kingdom.
There are various ways to decarbonize aviation, such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), synthetic fuels, or batteries. Still, the statement from the European manufacturer suggests that hydrogen is an up-and-coming fuel alternative for short-haul aviation.
Airbus plans to launch commercial hydrogen-powered planes by 2035. Rolls-Royce successfully tested hydrogen as a jet engine fuel in 2022.
Many smaller operators, such as ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen, are making significant progress in developing hydrogen-powered aircraft. They have already conducted flight tests, and the Hydrogen Industry Alliance (HIA) will work with the Government, aviation, and hydrogen sectors and local authorities to help the UK become a global leader in hydrogen technology for aviation. The alliance believes that the Government should prioritize three key areas:
- Developing the necessary infrastructure for the UK to lead hydrogen aviation
- Ensuring that the aviation regulatory regime is prepared for this technology
- Transforming financing for hydrogen aviation R&D for over 10 years
Johan Lundgren, the CEO of easyJet and the president of HIA, believes that the United Kingdom has the potential to become a global leader in using hydrogen in aviation. This could result in an economic boost of up to £34 billion per year (€40 billion) for the country by 2050.
Airbus is actively developing aeronautical technologies for hydrogen-powered flights. It is crucial to have a united industry voice to ensure a sustainable hydrogen ecosystem from renewable sources. According to experts, hydrogen-powered aviation is vital to achieve the net-zero emissions goal and will significantly boost the British economy.
The 'Jet Zero' Strategy by the Department for Transport suggests investing in hydrogen-powered aviation could create 60,000 new jobs in the UK. Hydrogen UK predicts hydrogen could help generate a Gross Value Added (GVA) of £18 billion (€21 billion) and potentially cover up to 50% of the UK's energy demand by 2050.