Green Hydrogen in the Future of AerospaceBy Sofía Hanna | Thu, 06/24/2021 - 16:01
The aerospace industry continues to develop technology to build the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035. One of the most recent advances regards green hydrogen, which has been an essential component of the net-zero climate strategies, especially for companies like Airbus.
According to an Airbus press release, green hydrogen is expected to key to the future of aircraft fuel. Hydrogen could fuel short-haul aircraft and be blended with regular jet fuel for longer-haul flights. However, at the moment, the main objective is to ensure its availability for future needs. This resource has the advantage of being produced entirely from renewable energy, more specifically water electrolysis. “Airbus fully expects green hydrogen to power future zero-emission aircraft when it reaches the market by 2035. The challenge today is to support long-term scale-up to ensure there is enough green hydrogen available to fuel the aviation industry’s needs,” mentioned in the release.
To date, there are nearly 320 new green hydrogen production demonstration projects worldwide, which translates to 200 MW of added electrolyzer capacity. Moreover, new projects are being added on almost a weekly basis. This is just the beginning, the European Commission recently announced that it is working on installing at least 40 GW of electrolyzer capacity or up to 10 million megatons of green hydrogen by 2030, so there will be more capacity. If implemented correctly, the EU could turn into the largest producer of green hydrogen. The EU is not the only region developing this technology. Japan, China, South Korea and US cities California, Texas and Utah, have also started to get involved in the process.
It is also necessary to develop the infrastructure to distribute green hydrogen once generates. For that reason, Airbus urges airports to develop on-site facilities to produce hydrogen within close proximity to operations. Storage will also be necessary. Hydrogen could be produced, liquefied and stored at the airport but off-site production will need to be transported to liquefaction sites via pipelines. The distribution will be similar to today’s refueling methods, explains Airbus.
In Mexico, aerospace priorities have switched since the industry faced its largest fall in demand in recorded history. In addition, there are Sustainable Aviation Fuels Initiatives like SAFI-MEX (ICSA-MEX in Spanish), a public-private initiative currently in the process of legal formalization, that seek to drive the integral development of the supply chain for sustainable aviation fuels, mentioned by Maud Oostenbrink, Commercial Director Mexico at Air France-KLM and Vice-President Advisory Board of Holland House Mexico in an Expert Contributor piece for MBN. She also mentions that Mexican Airlines are making efforts to improve their sustainability. However, without help from the government, this transition could become difficult and not so viable, especially given the current circumstances. Offsetting carbon emissions is becoming an increasingly important factor for the consumer and this trend cannot be ignored by the stakeholders in the industry.