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Study aims to understand role of hydrogen in aviation sector

Wales & West Utilities has commenced a major research study to understand the potential scale and timing requirements for any role hydrogen could play within the aviation sector.

The aviation sector presents significant challenges in achieving net zero emissions, currently contributing to 2.5% of global CO2 emissions and 7% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The study will explore the barriers and challenges of using hydrogen to decarbonise the sector, not only as a direct fuel source for future aircraft, but also to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in the aerospace supply chain.

The six-month study will also explore how Wales & West Utilities’ own infrastructure may be able to help decarbonisation by introducing 100% hydrogen and hydrogen blends into the future energy system.

The study builds on Wales & West Utilities work with both Hydrogen South West (HSW) and South Wales industrial Cluster (SWIC).

Matt Hindle, Head of Net Zero and Sustainability at Wales & West Utilities, said:

“Many organisations within our network area have a rich engineering and energy history, which make it ideal to explore decarbonising the aviation sector.

“This initial project will review hydrogen developments in the UK aviation industry to understand the current ambitions, any barriers to deployment, and the geographical implications of using the existing gas network infrastructure to supply hydrogen to points of demand, notably airports, and locations for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production.

“It will focus on Bristol and Cardiff as case studies and aims to give us a deeper understanding of what infrastructure we might need and how we can repurpose assets for hydrogen around them. It will also provide recommendations for further steps to build the evidence base and link into ongoing projects.”
The project will run until June 2023. The final report will help develop both short and long-term strategic project direction for potential hydrogen requirements for both Cardiff and Bristol airports, as well as the wider aerospace sector.

Wales & West Utilities is the company that look after the pipes that keep the gas flowing to heat the homes and power businesses of 7.5m people across Wales and south west England. They operate the gas emergency service, connect new homes and businesses, and upgrade the gas network so it’s safe today and fit for the future.

The company is investing £400m between 2021 and 2026 to deliver a Net Zero ready gas network by 2035, while looking after the most vulnerable in communities across Wales and south west England.