The aviation industry has been turning its attention to the development of hydrogen planes to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel and the massive carbon footprint it leaves behind.
Renewable hydrogen is expected to be a solution for several industries to meet their climate targets and the aviation industry should be no exception: it is estimated that hydrogen has the potential to reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions by up to 50%.
Since the pandemic, the organizers have launched the new Aerospace Global Forum to boost the speed of transition to net zero.
The Target True Zero report outlined the new role zero-emission propulsion technology will be playing in the efforts the aerospace industry is making toward decarbonization. It has focused on three different primary decarbonization efforts:
- Encouraging collaboration among leaders across the ecosystem for the development of fact-based alternative propulsion and perspectives.
- Mobilizing various stakeholders to act in ways that will launch and accelerate clean the aviation technology transition.
- Making certain alternative propulsion potential is adequate to address the climate impact of aviation and that it is made a reality.
Choosing a battery electric or hydrogen planes is only the first step to decarbonization.
Reducing a flight’s emissions is only one component of the decarbonization issue though.
There are several components to be considered when determining the size of the total emissions of any given aircraft, such as the manufacture and replacement of batteries for electric aircraft and the production method used for the fuel used in a hydrogen plane.
A particularly important benefit for hydrogen planes is that electricity generated using solar and wind power, for example, does not produce greenhouse gas emissions and reduces the warming impact of CO2.
Nowadays, aviation is responsible for 3.6% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. Modern planes use kerosene as fuel, releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Most of the world’s hydrogen today is produced by reforming methane from natural gas – a fossil fuel – which produces carbon dioxide.
Efforts are underway, however, to develop green hydrogen by using an electric current from a renewable source to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen, and reduce emissions in its production. If that is possible, along with no emissions from the planes themselves, aviation could become a truly green form of travel.