LONDON – Manchester Airport has unveiled plans to become the first UK airport with a direct supply of low carbon hydrogen fuel.
The airport has announced a partnership with HyNet – one of the UK’s leading Government-backed industrial decarbonisation projects.
The airport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the two founding partners of HyNet. Progressive Energy, which develops projects to decarbonise the energy sector, and Cadent, which will build and operate HyNet’s hydrogen pipeline network.
Through the MoU, the partners are aiming to deliver hydrogen to the aviation sector at the earliest opportunity, including through the connection of Manchester Airport to a pipeline being developed by HyNet.
The announcement has been backed by Aviation Minister Baroness Vere and Energy and Climate Change Minister Graham Stuart, as well as the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and North West Hydrogen Alliance.
The role of hydrogen fuel
Hydrogen technology will play a key role in decarbonising the aviation sector with hydrogen-powered aircraft expected to come into operation from the mid-2030s for short-haul journeys.
A research project conducted by FlyZero involving Manchester Airports Group (MAG) estimated that the demand for liquid hydrogen at an airport the size of Manchester could be 6.5 million litres a day by 2050.
The partners will now work together to assess the future demand for hydrogen for aviation and explore the feasibility to connect Manchester Airport to HyNet’s regional network.
With this connection, the airport aims to be the first to establish a direct pipeline of hydrogen, to supply any of its 60+ airlines with the sustainable fuel at the earliest opportunity, forming a key component of wider plans to decarbonise flying. The process also aims to drive innovation and the creation of green jobs for the region.
Manchester Airport statement
Chris Woodroofe, Managing Director, Manchester Airport said:“This announcement demonstrates the meaningful action we are taking to ensure we can deliver a carbon-free future for the aviation industry.”
“The partnership between Manchester Airport and HyNet is a significant step forward for the future use of hydrogen across the North West, building a more sustainable future for the region.”
“By securing a direct supply of hydrogen for our airport, our 60 airlines will be able to make use of this exciting and ground-breaking technology as soon as possible.”
“The use of hydrogen will make a significant contribution to the UK aviation sector’s decarbonisation efforts and supports industry partners in reaching net zero.”
Decarbonising the North West
HyNet will begin to decarbonise the North West from the mid-2020s. By 2030, it will be capable of removing up to 10 million tonnes of carbon emissions from across North West England and North Wales each year – the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road.
Chris Manson-Whitton, CEO Progressive Energy said: “HyNet will transform the region by the mid-2020s through delivering low carbon hydrogen produced locally at the UK’s first facilities including Vertex Hydrogen and a range of electrolytic plants.”
“We are extremely pleased to be working with Manchester Airport to make a significant impact on decarbonising aviation as we all play our part in reaching net zero and combating climate change.”
Manchester Airport and SAF
Manchester Airport – as part of MAG – has a target to make its own operations net zero carbon by 2038, 12 years ahead of the UK national target and two years ahead of the target set for UK airports in the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy.
The use of hydrogen fuel technology will play a pivotal role in aviation decarbonisation, alongside other levers including airspace modernisation and the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
This announcement on hydrogen technology comes a year after MAG announced its partnership with Fulcrum BioEnergy UK which aims to make Manchester Airport the first in the UK to have a direct supply of SAF from the mid-2020s.
This means that the UK’s third largest airport is making progress towards the supply of both sustainable aviation fuel and hydrogen, laying the foundation for airlines to operate low and zero emission flights in the future.
Manchester Airport is also working with Progressive Energy on how its own onsite infrastructure can be adapted to deliver this technology into reality.
Manchester Airport recently became a member of the North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA), a regional body which brings together organisations with the aim of developing the North West in to the UK’s primary hydrogen economy.
To support the publication of the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy in July this year, MAG issued five Jet Zero Pledges to support the decarbonisation of UK aviation.
One pledge incentivises the Group’s airlines to operate emission-free transatlantic flights, offering five years of free landing fees, and sits alongside others including commitments to improving education and PhD research on decarbonisation.