A consortium including Glasgow Airport has secured funds to test feasibility of hydrogen production

Environmental Aviation Climate solutions Technology Operations Infrastructure

A consortium led by Glasgow Airport and net zero consulting co-developer Ikigai, has successfully secured funding from the Scottish Government to test the feasibility of a hydrogen production, storage and distribution hub that would support zero emission flight at the airport.

The funding was confirmed by the First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf and forms part of the Scottish Government’s £7m Hydrogen Innovation Scheme which aims to support the development of renewable hydrogen technologies.

The Glasgow Airport Hydrogen Innovation Hub project will determine the most efficient, bankable, green hydrogen production, storage and refuelling solutions and assess the operational feasibility of a hydrogen hub at the airport.

The international consortium includes AI & solid-state storage technology company H2GO Power, developer of hydrogen-electric power-trains for aircraft ZeroAvia, global strategic environmental and engineering consulting Ricardo, system integrator Altrad Babcock, European green fuels retailer OG Clean Fuels, the University of Glasgow, Scottish Water Horizons and two airlines (easyJet and Loganair).

The feasibility study will:

  • utilise an AI software solution created by H2GO Power, to compare the relative efficiency of electrolyser and storage solutions;
  • integrate the optimal modular electrolyser technology with an onsite solar microgrid, already developed at Glasgow Airport by Ikigai;
  • assess and report how solid-state storage can overcome these challenges, through deployment at the airport's fuel farm and at a public service station; and
  • design the optimal infrastructure and process for delivery of hydrogen from solid-state storage to a gaseous mobile storage and dispensing unit for delivery to hydrogen aircraft and ground-handling equipment.

The project is expected to be completed by early 2024, with the long-term goal of applying this world-first concept to other regional airports, to create a UK network of hydrogen-ready airports, including Aberdeen and Southampton which together with Glasgow form AGS Airports.

Jon Matthews, Group Head of Capital Investment at AGS Airports, said: "Hydrogen powered aircraft have the potential to completely revolutionise aviation, particularly on regional and short-haul routes. Airline manufacturers are making tangible progress on zero emission flight and as an airport operator, it is important we start to plan for the delivery, storage and generation of hydrogen. This funding will allow us to bring together a diverse group of companies to address the unique challenges of storing hydrogen safely and at scale in an airport environment.”

Aviation accounts for approximately 2.5% of global CO2 emissions and is one of the hardest to abate sectors. The industry is exploring multiple sustainable fuel sources and technologies, with the aim that sustainable aviation fuel will mitigate the majority of aviation’s global emissions in 2050. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that hydrogen aircraft will dominate commercial short-haul aviation by 2040, with 50-100 hydrogen aircraft for up to 90 min flights being in commercial operation as early as 2035.

"Hydrogen has a critical role to pay in the decarbonisation of, in particular, regional aviation. Glasgow’s ‘back to base’ island routes make it the ideal location for hydrogen aviation to take-off,” said Helena Anderson, co-founder of Ikigai. “This hub will ensure that Glasgow Airport has a safe, secure and cost-efficient green fuel supply, as the industry transitions to Net Zero. Glasgow is the first airport in, what we believe will be, a world-leading hydrogen aviation network attracting regional investment, jobs, skills and growth.”

Ricardo’s Head of hydrogen Dr Hamish Nichol commented “We’re excited to be part of another project supporting the transition to zero emission flights. The aviation industry has set ambitious targets in order to achieving net zero, in the early years relying on government support, will be key to support the aviation sector. Safety is an essential consideration, and our experienced hydrogen safety team will play an important factor in developing the hydrogen eco-system at Glasgow Airport”.

AGS Airports launched its Sustainability Strategy in 2021 setting out how it will balance the undoubted economic and social benefits of aviation with its climate change responsibilities. AGS has:

  • Reduced its direct carbon emissions by 52% since 2018.
  • Achieved carbon neutrality in 2020.
  • Has committed to achieving net zero for direct emissions by the mid-2030s.