ZeroAvia is making headlines for its innovative approach to aviation. It’s clear that the future of the aviation industry involves a transition to zero-emission flights, but the path to such renewable technology has been tricky. Hydrogen-electric aviation powertrain developer ZeroAvia is showing the industry how renewable energy can cut costs for startups and aviation giants — all while benefiting the planet.
ZeroAvia has received recognition for its hydrogen-electric aviation powertrain by making the shortlist in the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards “Transport Project of the Year” category. For the 2021 leaders awards, judges sifted through nearly 300 entries, each from innovators in green projects or organizations. The judges saw the immense potential of ZeroAvia’s zero-emission powertrain to decarbonize the aviation sector — disrupting the existing $100 billion market and bringing the sector as a whole closer to net-zero emissions.
This is another achievement in a series of green aviation successes. Last year, ZeroAvia completed the first commercial-grade aircraft flight using hydrogen fuel cell power. And it has ambitious plans for the future, hoping to run 20-seater hydrogen-electric flights with a range of 500 miles around 2024. By 2027, ZeroAvia hopes to have the capabilities to power 100-person flights. By 2030, it hopes to complete flights over 1,000 miles.
What Are the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards?
The BusinessGreen Leaders Awards is considered the U.K.’s most prestigious celebration of environmentally conscious organizations and achievements. Every year, judges recognize organizations for their clean business principles, green tech innovation, and dedication to the net-zero transition. The goal is to enhance awareness of “going net-zero” and show how people can build successful businesses on sustainable practices.
Just ahead of the Net Zero Festival and Glasgow’s COP26 Climate Summit, this is a timely event. The 11th annual BusinessGreen Leaders Awards will take place in central London on September 22, bringing the U.K.’s top executives, entrepreneurs, political leaders, and campaigners together to showcase their achievements. Categories include green infrastructure projects, green packaging projects, renewable energy projects, transport projects, energy efficiency projects, and plenty more.
Understanding ZeroAvia’s Green Powertrain
ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain is a clear candidate for the final award. Since the transportation industry is responsible for a third of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States (this sector has even overtaken power generation since 2016), a sustainable and scalable solution to fossil-fuel aviation is needed. Aviation, after all, accounts for 12 percent of total transportation emissions — and these high-altitude emissions have double to quadruple the impact of ground emissions.
Analysts have been speculating about a green revolution in aviation for years; no strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be complete without making flight sustainable. The problem is that global aviation infrastructure has been built around fossil fuels. Change is going to be challenging — but it helps when the green alternative has incentives of its own.
ZeroAvia made this a possibility. The company built the first practical true zero-emission aviation powertrain, an accomplishment that could turn short-haul flights green (a segment that accounts for 50 percent of all aviation emissions). “Green” hydrogen is what makes this possible, and it is created in a renewably powered electrolyzer by sending electric currents through water, splitting hydrogen atoms from oxygen.
Typically, fossil fuels (or electricity from a power grid running on fossil fuels) power hydrogen production. What makes green hydrogen so sustainable is that the production process is entirely powered by renewable sources, such as solar panels and wind farms. This technology is a very promising alternative for aviation.
Renewably powered hydrogen-electric aircraft could significantly drop the environmental impact of traditional air travel. Not only is this a big step forward for green technology, but the company also demonstrated that hydrogen-electric power has benefits of its own. For instance, ZeroAvia’s short-haul trips (between 300 and 500 miles) had half the cost of other typical zero-emission trips.
The company’s powertrain also has 75 percent lower fuel and maintenance costs, reducing the total trip cost by up to 50 percent. This has big implications for commercial flyers who want more affordable and convenient ways to get flights to nearby locations. ZeroAvia’s vision is a complete transition to zero-emission flight, powered with renewable energy by harnessing photovoltaic fields and wind farms. The jump to sustainable aviation could make the sector faster, safer, cleaner, and more affordable, and ZeroAvia believes that market disruption will create demand for more than 100,000 units throughout the next decade.
ZeroAvia is creating sustainable aviation technology, accelerating the aviation sector’s transition to zero-emission flight. Its innovative, renewably powered hydrogen-electric technology makes sustainable air travel at scale a possibility — all while removing the limitations of existing zero-emissions programs. ZeroAvia is making the first truly scalable solution to the traditional aviation sector’s sustainability problem.