When hydrogen is burned, it produces no climate-warming carbon dioxide. It burns only water.
Both plane- and automakers have looked at it as a way to reduce the impact of the transportation sector on the climate. However, hydrogen production is a major source of emissions.
One way the aviation industry hopes to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is to bring hydrogen-fuelled aircraft into service from 2035.
According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) report, hydrogen could be used on long-haul aircraft if it is not possible due to the volume gas required. However, hydrogen aircraft that are short- to medium-haul can be used to virtually eliminate carbon emissions.
Airbus, an aircraft manufacturer, has set 2035 the goal to bring hydrogen passenger planes to market. They are also developing a single-aisle turbofan aircraft and a turboprop commuter airplane.
According to the ICCT, hydrogen storage would limit the range of such aircraft compared with current aircraft using conventional fuels. However, they could still be used to transport up to a third global air traffic.
The ICCT concluded that if there were a 100% take-up of aircraft using green hydrogen on eligible flights, it would “reduce aviation’s carbon emissions by 31% in 2050, which represents a cap on emissions at 2035 levels.”
A 20-40% take-up would result in a 6-12% drop in CO2 emission.
According to the study, green hydrogen is more affordable than synthetic fuels and could also be used to reduce carbon emissions.
The ICCT stated that carbon taxes were necessary to eliminate the price advantage of jetfuel made from petroleum.