Will the cost of hydrogen aircraft decrease from 2035?
Despite not being an avid proponent of hydrogen, the association Transport & Environment has published a new study showing that the deployment of hydrogen aircraft in Europe is economically feasible. But only if the right policies and incentives are applied.
Aircraft using hydrogen instead of kerosene could be cheaper
The full 55-page study* can be viewed here. What does it say? By 2035, flying hydrogen aircraft could be 8% more expensive than operating kerosene aircraft. But if this fossil fuel were taxed, then hydrogen-powered aircraft would cost 2% less than their counterparts. “We need to create a market for zero-emission aircraft, by taxing fossil fuel and gradually introducing zero-emission aircraft in the future,” argues Jérôme du Boucher, head of aviation at T&E France. He adds: “If we have to rely solely on the goodwill of Airbus, hydrogen-powered aircraft will remain nothing more than a sweet dream.”
Nearly 300 billion are needed to make it a reality
The study evaluates the cost of deploying hydrogen-powered aircraft at €299 billion (about $320 billion) between now and 2050. Developing hydrogen-powered aircraft would account for only 5% of this cost (€15 billion or $16 billion). The bulk of the costs will in fact be borne by the hydrogen industry. More than half (54%, i.e. €161 billion or about $172 billion) will be linked to the production of green hydrogen. A further 23% will be needed for hydrogen liquefaction. Other costs relate to the development of hydrogen infrastructure at airports (12%) and fuel distribution at airports (6%).
“There is no miracle solution for decarbonising aviation. Sustainable fuels, demand reduction and hydrogen will all play a part,” concludes the association.
*The economic study, carried out by the Steer research group at the request of T&E, examined the future operating costs of hydrogen-powered aircraft on intra-European flights.
Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King