The value of the global hydrogen aircraft market is anticipated to reach $27.68 billion in 2030 and jump up to $174.02 billion by 2040, Gediminas Žiemelis, chairman of the board of Avia Solutions Group, said in a release.

With water as the only waste product, hydrogen can be directly combusted for motive power or can power a fuel cell to create electricity. The release said hydrogen’s most limiting factor is its size requirements. Hydrogen requires three times the space as traditional jet fuel for the same amount of energy, according to Airbus. Žiemelis said the growing popularity of hydrogen fuel cells and storage systems will encourage increasing development in the industry.

Is hydrogen a zero-emission fuel?

Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy and electrolyzers to separate hydrogen from water, making it a zero-emission fuel. However, less than 0.1% of global dedicated hydrogen production today comes from water electrolysis, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). 

The large majority of hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels, but declining renewable energy costs could cause green hydrogen production costs to fall 30% by 2030, the IEA said.

ZeroAvia’s recent hydrogen aircraft snafu

ZeroAvia completed what it called the “world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft” in 2020 and has been conducting research and development of the technology since. The company’s hydrogen aircraft are now backed by British Airways.

Last week, a ZeroAvia hydrogen-powered aircraft made an off-airport landing during a routine test flight. The company reported that no one was injured, and the hydrogen and electrical systems on-board suffered no structural damage. ZeroAvia appointed an investigation team to review the incident and learn from its causes. The company said it will release information as it becomes available. 

Airbus hydrogen aircraft

In 2020, Airbus shared three concepts for hydrogen-powered aircraft that differ in design, passenger capacity and distance. Partnering with ElringKlinger for its fuel-cell technology, Airbus aims to be operating its zero-emissions commercial hydrogen aircraft by 2035.

“Cost-competitive green hydrogen and cross-industry partnerships will be mandatory to bring zero-emission flying to reality,” Glenn Llewellyn, vice president of zero-emissions aircraft at Airbus, said in a statement. “We’re talking about delivering zero-emission flight to society.”

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