• Hydrogen use in UK aviation

    Recommendations for the Jet Zero strategy’s hydrogen commitments

    Hydrogen is crucial to decarbonising aviation, and this was recognised in the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy. That strategy committed to requiring fuel suppliers to provide minimum and increasing levels of power-to-liquid (PtL) fuels (the PtL sub-mandate), and “aspired” to ensuring that some domestic air routes only used zero-emission aircraft by 2030. Power to liquid fuels are made by combining hydrogen and captured carbon, and on current market trends the first zero emission aircraft in the UK will be hydrogen fuel-cell planes.  

    The UK has an established hydrogen strategy that will ensure hydrogen is produced, but there are, as yet, no demand side policies in place. There is a clear hierarchy of needs for hydrogen uses, based on whether existing technologies can be electrified or not. Long-haul aviation is towards the top of this hierarchy. The UK SAF mandate will be the first demand-side policy to be implemented.

    It is anticipated that to fulfil 1% of jet fuel demand in 2030 with PtL fuels would require 0.68 GW, or nearly 14% of all anticipated fossil-free (green) hydrogen production in 2030: substantial, but eminently achievable. This paper recommends that the Government should be ambitious, and that three quarters of 2030 green hydrogen production should be directed towards e-kerosene production. This paper therefore recommends:

    • that the 2030 PtL sub-mandate be set at 5.5%. 
    • That all e-kerosene uplifted in the UK is produced in countries where the local grid is at least 90% decarbonised