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Bristol businesses spearhead launch of Hydrogen in Aviation alliance

Bristol businesses were among the key players from the aviation industry helping to launch the Hydrogen in Aviation alliance this week.

The aviation will work to accelerate the delivery of zero carbon aviation – and bring an estimated £34 billion annual benefit to the UK.

Bristol businesses involved in the alliance include Rolls-Royce, Airbus, GKN Aerospace and Bristol Airport. Other partners include easyJet and renewables firm Ørsted.

The group argues the UK is currently in a strong position to become a global leader in hydrogen-powered aviation, but further steps must be taken to capture the opportunity, secure long-term employment and economic benefits, as well as meet critical decarbonisation targets.

HIA aims to assist Government and policymakers by mapping out the milestones to ensure infrastructure, regulatory and policy changes keep pace with the ground-breaking technological developments in carbon-free flying

Partners say it is critical that the supply of hydrogen, and the infrastructure needed to support zero carbon flying, are prioritised if the significant social and economic benefits of flying are to be preserved.

Grazia Vittadini, chief technology officer at Rolls-Royce, said: “Collaboration is key when it comes to achieving our net zero ambitions as an industry, which is why we are proud to be part of the Hydrogen in Aviation Alliance.

“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.”

Sabine Klauke, chief technology officer at Airbus said: “As Airbus continues to mature the aircraft technologies needed to deliver hydrogen-powered flight, a united industry voice is needed to secure a robust ecosystem of renewably-sourced hydrogen.

“Joining our peers from across the UK aviation landscape in a targeted approach to policy and investment action brings us closer to a decarbonised future of flying.”

Dave Lees, CEO of Bristol Airport, said: “We’re proud to be part of this new alliance, coming together to call for action now so hydrogen flight can become a reality in the future.

“The potential opportunities of hydrogen flight are huge – most of Bristol Airport’s routes could be served by zero emissions aircraft and our region is uniquely positioned to become a global centre for the new technology, creating thousands of new aerospace jobs.”

New research shows that 81 per cent of the British public believe hydrogen is the best option to decarbonise aviation with 91 per cent supporting the UK government investing in hydrogen production and use in the aviation sector.

Meanwhile, the DfT’s Jet Zero Strategy states that rapid investment in hydrogen aviation could see the UK securing 60,000 new jobs and recent projections from Hydrogen UK predicts that hydrogen could contribute to £18 billion GVA and help meet up to 50 per cent of our energy demand by 2050.

The rate of research and development within the UK means that the aviation sector is already in an advanced position to take advantage of this significant opportunity.

For instance, last year saw the first ground test of a fully hydrogen-powered jet engine and the first hydrogen powered narrow-body aircraft is expected to be ready for short-haul flights across the UK and Europe by 2035.

And a consultation from the government in 2021 revealed that developing a UK hydrogen economy could support over 9,000 jobs by 2030 – and up to 100,000 jobs by 2050 – across the UK.

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