Finnish energy company Fortum and the low-carbon flight specialists from ZeroAvia want to explore developing hydrogen production and refuelling infrastructure at airports. The Memorandum of Understanding mentions a network of zero-emission flight routes.
As part of the collaboration Fortum and ZeroAvia will investigate the potential of hydrogen infrastructure at “relevant airports,” according to a press statement, which otherwise leaves specific markets or airports unmentioned.
For Fortum, the hydrogen and aviation territory is new. The company aims to be a “key player in the hydrogen economy by developing and providing smart and agile decarbonisation solutions for customers”.
ZeroAvia has demonstrated the potential of hydrogen-electric flight with its HyFlyer prototype planes for over two years. The current 19-seater Dornier conversion uses hydrogen fuel cells for electric propulsion instead of replacing fuel with hydrogen in a combustion system. This scenario is being explored to power longer-haul flights, as we laid out in this overview of hydrogen in aviation here.
This kind of agreement is not new for ZeroAvia, having already made agreements with Shell and Rotterdam Airport. The partners are developing a concept for hydrogen operations at airports to conduct demonstration flights to European destinations in late 2024. They specifically aim to establish flight routes within 250 nautical miles (around 463 kilometres) of Rotterdam.
ZeroAvia and Shell are also cooperating in the US, where the oil corporation provides grey hydrogen to power some test and early commercial facilities by ZeroAvia. Shell also invested in the FC propulsion developer in 2022.
As for Fortum, it remains to be seen whether the plans will become concrete. In the statement, the company mentions that on-airport hydrogen infrastructure could also support complimentary traffic from heavy-duty transportation or materials handling equipment. Fortum says that any future decisions on possible investments will be made at a later stage.