7 Aug

East Midlands Airport developing hydrogen fuel capabilities

Gavin Fletcher, Regional Senior Energy Project Officer & Dennis Hayter, Intelligent Energy has been discussing new, clean energy sources in the Midlands Energy Hub monthly newsletter:

Hydrogen fuel diagram

“Hydrogen has long been considered a future fuel; however, it now seems to be gaining significant traction with a number of different uses being explored in trials, university schemes and innovative enterprises. In the Midlands, the Energy Research Accelerator is taking a lead in researching a number of areas of hydrogen activity, which show huge potential. Partners are exploring alternative methods of production as well as production alongside Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS), geological storage of hydrogen and using hydrogen in the gas grid (mixed with natural gas or 100% hydrogen).

In Leicester and Leicestershire, East Midlands Airport is developing hydrogen capabilities. East Midlands Airport (EMA) became the first European airport to receive certification as carbon neutral in 2012 and has maintained this status ever since. The airport is preparing a new corporate social responsibility strategy (CRS) that takes this further. In addition to a commitment to net-zero status by 2038, they have intermediate targets including transitioning the entire airport fleet to be ultra-low emissions with airport infrastructure to be run on renewable energy no later than 2030.

Hydrogen is expected to play a key part in delivering against their CRS commitments and for specific applications at EMA. Hydrogen fuel cells can power zero-emission airport vehicles and provide a zero-carbon alternative for ground and aircraft power units. Hydrogen can also transform warehousing and logistics, with zero-emission fuel cell powered material handling equipment offering substantive operational productivity uplifts. The significant warehousing at EMA and the neighbouring SEGRO gateway could provide trials for this approach. A consortium is being formed with EMA to enable a Hydrogen Hub supplying green hydrogen for these multiple activities. This includes Intelligent Energy and a renewable energy / hydrogen supply and local network systems integration utility firm. The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership is also looking at how activity at EMA can support wider hydrogen deployment e.g. converting shuttle buses linking the airport with nearby towns and cities. Looking ahead, hydrogen fuel cells also have a role to play in the future of aviation with the development of hydrogen propulsion systems for aircraft.”