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The New Alliance Attempting To Accelerate Hydrogen-Powered Aviation

Major aviation and renewable energy firms, including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, EasyJet, and Ørsted, announced on Tuesday the creation of the Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA) alliance in the UK to propose a pathway to achieving hydrogen-powered aviation.

The alliance says that the Government needs to be focused on three key areas—supporting the construction 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 program.

According to the alliance, which also comprises GKN Aerospace and Bristol Airport, hydrogen is a very promising alternative fuel option for short-haul aviation.

Airbus, for example, is developing new hydrogen-powered aircraft with the aim of entering commercial service from 2035. Aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has already proven that hydrogen could power a jet engine following successful ground tests in 2022.

“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,” said Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet and first Chair of HIA.

The alliance looks forward to working with the UK Government to ensure that the right funding and regulatory and policy changes are implemented to accelerate the delivery of zero-carbon aviation, Lundgren added.

Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer at Rolls-Royce, commented,

“Our contribution to HIA is the capability and experience we have in pioneering new technologies and solutions - we have already tested a modern aero engine on green hydrogen and we strongly believe it is one of the solutions that will help decarbonise aviation in the mid to long-term.”

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Meanwhile, a growing number of airlines are betting on increased use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to reduce their carbon footprint in a sector where emissions are hard to abate. Despite numerous pledges from airlines and government support for SAF production, the alternative of the petroleum-based jet fuel faces challenges in supply, costs, and feedstock, analysts say.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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