I have a bit of an obsession with Hydrogen, and I love to encourage the debate between the hardcore ‘batteries are the only answer’ and ‘Hydrogen is the only answer’ schools of thought. Despite personally being of a mind we should electrify everything, I’m still pretty technology agnostic (clean technology I should say). So where do Hydrogen and Fuelcells play a part in the clean energy and mobility transitions? Not many people would first look to the skies. But Val Miftakhov, CEO of Zeroavia, and my podcast guest this week certainly did. But first considering all energy vector possibilities, as you can hear.

So where do you stand on this debate?

Take a listen to the podcast with Val Miftakhov of ZeroAvia, sharing how they are developing the world’s first zero emission, hydrogen-fuelled aviation powertrain.

Here is my summary of the key insights:

1. Aircraft entering usage now are generating three times the emissions of previous aircraft and they will be in the air until on average 2050. Meanwhile, other sources of harmful of emissions from, for example, power generation and road transport are on a steep downward path. Aviation will be the bad kid on the block, and when that happens aviation emissions will be very hard to abate.

2. ZeroAvia looked at batteries, biofuels, synthetic fuels and many other options as the basis for its new aviation proposition. Val believes that without a miracle breakthrough none of these options can deliver the power needed any time soon. Hydrogen powertrains are, he believes, the answer in terms of power output, energy intensity, utilisation and logistics with aircraft in the air by 2023!

3. With governments around the world bailing out their airlines and at the same time including provisions to enforce reduced emissions, is now the time for the world to embrace this technology and look to a very different future for aviation?

4. Val found the UK government’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK to be the easiest government agencies he has had to deal with in his life as an entrepreneur! Which as you’ll probably hear, astounded me! Something we can be proud of in the UK when we must seem to the world to have lost the plot over most things in recent years.

Hear more from Val on our latest podcast here.

As ever, please share your thoughts, and the story.

David Hunt (CEO, Hyperion Executive Search).

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