Aviation in the Baltic Sea region opts for Hydrogen

A total of 16 airports and aviation companies are involved in the H2 initiative, which was launched shortly before the turn of the year with an inaugural partnership meeting in Hamburg. This makes it the world’s largest coherent project in aviation to step out of fossil fuels and replace them with green hydrogen.

Hamburg Airport is coordinating all activities of the BSR HyAirport group  –  picture: credit Hamburg Aviation

BSR HyAirport
Measured by the 86 individual projects listed on its schedule, BSR HyAirport is an ambitious and unprecedented project. The targets range from enhancing smart green mobility to promoting low carbon propulsion, the use of renewable fuels and replacing carbon fuels with H2-powered systems. Of these, 56 enjoy top priorityto prepare airports in the Baltic Sea Region for the use of gaseous hydrogen for small and regional passenger and cargo aircraft and ground equipment, and to connect them to existing larger aviation hubs without emitting greenhouse gasses during operation.

Some well-known partners are involved in the BSR HyAirport project. These include Swedavia and Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Riga Airport, Lithuanian airports, and companies including Power Cell from Gothenburg, Gulfstream, and educational institutions such as the Tallinn University of Technology. The lead partner is Hamburg Airport, which is coordinating all the activities together with the consulting specialists Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC).

Creating a new network of flight connections
With a network of airports, technology partners, airlines, and research institutions from across the program area, the project aims to create a unique platform for the joint development, implementation, and testing of practical solutions serving the common challenges and specific needs of hydrogen-powered aviation in the BSR region, states a release.
In addition to this development aspect, the initiative is also aiming for a completely new network of flight connections.

Pioneering H2 flights
Gaseous hydrogen is seen as the propulsion system of the future, especially for smaller aircraft with up to 80 seats, or freighters capable of transporting between 12 and 15 tons per take off. In a total of three work packages, the project is investigating how airports in the Baltic Sea region can prepare for its implementation. The focus is on the supply chain of hydrogen to the airports, its safe storage at local facilities, the fast refueling of aircraft and ground vehicles, and the coordination of handling processes in full compliance with safety regulations and in accord with overarching business plans. Demonstration flights of a hydrogen-powered aircraft between several project partner airports are also planned to spur the project and gain broad support. The first connection has already been identified: hydrogen-powered flights between Hamburg and Rotterdam.

Revitalizing regional aviation based on net zero
On the occasion of the launch of BSR HyAirport, Jan Eike Hardegen, Head of Environment at Hamburg Airport, said: “The project is a beacon on the way to CO2-neutral aviation. The project will develop and test solutions for green aviation as well as for the use of gaseous hydrogen on the ground for vehicles and terminal operations. A changeover of this magnitude can succeed if we work together with other industry players.”
Olaf Zeike, Project Manager at HPC Hamburg Port Consulting, also commented on the project “BSR HyAirport enables all participants to successfully combine our expertise from aviation projects, the development of hydrogen logistics chains, co-funding management and the experience of multi-year coordination of Interreg projects for the benefit of the intended project success. We support the climate goals of the project partners and are pleased to be able to make a tangible contribution to the decarbonization of aviation and the revitalization of regional air transportation.”

Brussels favors and co-finances the project
Common challenges to be addressed by the partnership include the evaluation of options and elaboration of concepts for the regional supply of green hydrogen to airports according to local demand and legal and safety requirements related to H2 storage and handling at airports. Thanks to the partnership program, the project will create a platform for the joint development, implementation, and testing of practical solutions serving the common challenges and specific needs of hydrogen-powered aviation in the BSR region.
The program, which is strongly supported by the EU, will initially run for three years, and has a total budget of 4.8 million euros. Of this, around 1.1 million euros will be allocated to Hamburg Airport. The project partners expect the EU to cover 80% of the remaining costs. 

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1 COMMENT

  1. We are extremely glad to see such great news to inaugurate the year! The network of “Green Aviation” initiatives within Europe is densifying. We have seen continued progress since our participation in the 2020 EU Call “Green Airports and Ports” which motivated us at Berlin-Brandenburg Aerospace Allianz, to move on with the ITEAL Project that is now rolled out at the airports of Berlin-Schönhagen and Berlin-Strausberg (see early-stage report in this publication). We believe that it is important to demonstrate in real-life how these hydrogen-based airport infrastructures work. We have found partner regions in France, The Netherlands and Norway, who will benefit with their projects of the practical experience to be observed in the Berlin region. We invite the Baltic Sea region and all other such ambitious consortiums to take part in our learnings which we will gladly share, as we already did when publishing and presenting our ITEAL study.

    Hydrogen Experts like the authors Klaus Herwig and Erik Schäfer with their newly published “Hydrogen Horizons” promote the idea of leading by example when it comes to implementing hydrogen infrastructures. Change management is the hardest part of the energy transition, and inertia has caused many brilliant concepts to remain in the drawer far too long. But, as was mentioned by a panelist at the EU Hydrogen Forum last June, we need Power Plants, not PowerPoint.

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