Aerospace and H2 heavyweights form UK Hydrogen in Aviation alliance

In the UK, the Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA) alliance has been formed to "accelerate the delivery of zero carbon aviation," according to a statement from the new alliance. The group of companies is made up of some major players in the aviation and renewable energy sectors including easyJet, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Ørsted, GKN Aerospace and Bristol Airport aviation.

Image: Airbus

The group of companies forming the HIA alliance is of the opinion that the UK is in a strong position to become a global leader in hydrogen-powered aviation. Awareness is growing that hydrogen is an essential factor in decarbonising aviation, playing a key role in several different low and zero-emission aviation technologies.

The British Isles do have a number of strong existing advantages when it comes to leading the decarbonisation of aviation. The islands’ expansive coastlines could provide wind energy for the production of green hydrogen. These potentials are doubled down with alliance member Ørsted, a Danish multinational energy company and the largest energy company in Denmark. In 2021, the company broke ground on Denmark’s first large-scale green hydrogen project and stated at the time: “In less than three years, Ørsted has, with partners, established nine renewable hydrogen projects in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom so far.”

The other great asset in the UK when it comes to aviation is literally world leadership in this sector. Alliance member Airbus is the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, while Rolls-Royce, another famous heavyweight in the aerospace sector, is in the process of completing work on the world’s largest aero-engine technology demonstrator, UltraFan –a demonstrator aero engine applicable for all fuel types including low and zero-emission fuels. Completing the superlatives list, the other areospace manufacturer in the alliance, GKN Aerospace, serves over 90% of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers.

On the airport side, Bristol Airport is closest the Airbus Zero Emission Development Centre (ZEDC) that was opened to advance hydrogen technologies in the UK just over a year ago. Bristol Airport also announced hydrogen hub partnerships last last year.

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.”

The alliance shouldn’t have too much trouble convincing Britons that the acceleartion of hydrogen technology and infrastructure for aviation is worth investing in. The alliance cites studies that show that 81 per cent of the British public believe hydrogen is the best option to decarbonise aviation with 91% supporting the UK government investing in hydrogen production and use in the aviation sector.

This interest in aviation in the UK and decarbonising the industry has a greater sense of urgency than elsewhere perhaps. In 2019, studies showed that more Britons travelled abroad than any other nationality. With the sudden awareness of the UK’s energy dependence when it comes to fossil fuels with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Britons are perhaps becoming increasingly aware that creating a sustainable aviation industry is as much about fighting to keep the aviation industry up in the air as it is about decarbonisation. “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,” noted HIA chair Lundgren.

For the UK’s post Brexit economic woes, the injection of hope into decarbonising the aviation industry brings the promise of jobs. The alliance highlights the UK Department of Transport’s Jet Zero Strategy findings that rapid investment in hydrogen aviation could see the UK securing 60,000 new jobs. In terms of hydrogen production generally, the new alliance cites a report by Hydrogen UK predicting that hydrogen could contribute to £18bn GVA and help meet up to 50% of UK energy demand by 2050.

Now to the crunch, the Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA) alliance has quite specific requests for the UK government. The alliance is putting focus on three key areas in which the UK government can assist their efforts by: “supporting the delivery of the infrastructure needed for the UK to be a global leader; ensuring the aviation regulatory regime is hydrogen ready; and transforming the funding for hydrogen aviation R&D support into a 10 year programme, if the UK is to see the economic benefits and meet decarbonisation targets.”

“HIA looks forward to working with the UK Government to ensure the right funding, regulatory and policy changes are implemented to accelerate the delivery of zero carbon aviation,”  says Lindgreen.


about „Aerospace and H2 heavyweights form UK Hydrogen in Aviation alliance“

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *