Over the past few years, we (in Europe) witnessed an incredible boom of low cost airline companies, which offer cheap tickets to and from pretty much any destination around. With this arose the issue of carbon emissions from aviation, and this escalated to a point to which the EU had to jump in, introduce taxes, and shape up a scheme for emission control.
It is no news that the companies that would suffer the most from this would be the budget airlines, simply because the low cost of their tickets hangs on every single little thing, from selecting your seat inside the plane, to charging for using the lavatory (OK, I think this one was only a suggestion and didn’t get implemented, but you get the idea).
Sooner or later action had to be taken, and one of the leading low cost airlines, the British company EasyJet, is the first one to start exploring the alternative options. In an announcement made earlier this week, the company revealed their plans to use hydrogen fuel cells (or at least explore the possibility) to power their aircrafts.
Ultimately, the goal is to create something like low-cost green air-taxi system. According to Ian Davies, the head of engineering at EasyJet, the fact that the car industry has not yet integrated fully hydrogen fuel cells, it does not mean that it would not be possible in the aviation sector.
The main benefit of using hydrogen fuel cells to power aircrafts, is cut in fuel consumption and emissions. If such taxiing system is implemented, the cuts in fuel consumption might well hit 51%. Considering that fuel costs comprise one third of the operation costs of airlines, this would be quite huge.
Because it is currently just a working idea, the company has provided very limited amount of details. We know that they are looking into hydrogen cell containers with batteries, which store energy from fuel cells and PV cells, and that’s about it
But the important thing here is that, for Easyjet, anything that could reduce emissions, and costs for fueling, is worth exploring. This is why they promise that their pilot program will begin before the end of the year. Let’s see how soon we might see results.
Image (C) Airbus