Manchester Airport has unveiled plans to become the 1st UK airport with a direct supply of low-carbon hydrogen fuel, declaring a partnership with HyNet – 1 of the UK’s leading Government-backed industrial decarbonization projects.
The airport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the 2 founding partners of HyNet. Progressive Energy, which develops projects to decarbonize the energy sector, and Cadent, which will make and operate HyNet’s hydrogen pipeline network.
Manchester Airport Group
Through the MoU, the partners are aiming to deliver hydrogen to the aviation sector at the earliest chance, including through the connection of Manchester Airport to a pipeline being developed by HyNet.
The statement has been backed by Aviation Minister Baroness Vere and Energy and Climate Change Minister Graham Stuart, as well as the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and North West Hydrogen Alliance. Hydrogen technology will play a key role in decarbonizing the aviation center with hydrogen-powered aircraft expected to arrive into operation in the mid-2030s for short-haul journeys. A research project conducted by FlyZero involving Manchester Airports Group (MAG) estimated that the demand for liquid hydrogen at an airport the size of Manchester Airport Group could be 6.5 million liters a day by 2050.
HyNet brings together the technology and infrastructure required to move the region rapidly to zero future, including producing low-carbon hydrogen that can be used to power aircraft of the future. As a result of the MoU signed today, the partners will work together to assess the future demand for hydrogen for aviation and explore the feasibility to connect Manchester Airport Group to HyNet’s regional network. With this connection, the airport aims to be the 1st to establish a direct pipeline of hydrogen, to supply any of its 60+ airlines with sustainable fuel at the earliest opportunity, forming a key component of wider plans to decarbonize flying. The process also aims to drive innovation and the creation of green jobs for the region.
Chris Woodroofe, Managing Director, Manchester Airport stated:
“This statement demonstrates the meaningful action we are taking to ensure we can deliver a carbon-free future for the aviation industry. “The partnership between Manchester Airport and HyNet is a significant step forward for the future use of hydrogen across the North West, building a more sustainable future for the region. “By securing a direct supply of hydrogen for the airport, our 60 airlines will be able to make use of this exciting and ground-breaking technology as soon as possible.
“The use of hydrogen will make a significant contribution to the UK aviation decarbonization efforts and supports industry partnership in reaching net zero.”
Aviation Minister Baroness Vere stated: “Hydrogen offers the potential to decarbonize flying, but we require the right infrastructure at airports to support harness that opportunity. “We are funding the multi-million-pound Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure project, which has already issued important findings, and it’s great to see industry now pushing ahead in this area to make zero emission flight a reality”.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Graham Stuart stated: “Set to be the new fuel of the future, hydrogen will be essential in powering UK aviation, including the aviation sector, as we move toward ending our dependency on fossil fuels.
- “This collaboration is an exciting step that will help put the North West at the heart of efforts to make the UK a world-leading hydrogen economy.”
A panel event held to mark the signing of the MoU was attended by 30 leading figures from the industry, including:
- · Progressive Energy Chief Executive Chris Mason Whitton
- · Cadent Head of Regional Development Helen Boyle
- · Progressive Energy Head of Industrial Hydrogen Adam Baddeley
- · MAG Head of ESG and Environmental Strategy Adam Freeman
The panel is already discussed what would be needed to realize a hydrogen future for aviation, and how decarbonization clusters like HyNet can work with the industry to service its need for new technology and infrastructure.
Manchester Airport and HyNet
Following the panel event, Manchester Airport and HyNet’s political and industry partners sat down for a roundtable talk about the partnership’s next steps and what help could be offered to accelerate hydrogen use in the North West. Those organizations in attendance included the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Connected Places Catapult, the Zero Emission Flight Group Secretariat, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and Liverpool City Region.
Hyatt will start to decarbonize the North West from mid-2020. By 2030, it will be capable of removing up to ten million tonnes of carbon emissions from across North West England and North Wales each year – the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road.
Chris Manson-Whitton, CEO of Progressive Energy said: “HyNet will transform the region by mid-2020 through delivering low carbon hydrogen produced locally at the UK’s 1st facilities including Vertex Hydrogen and a range of electrolytic plants. We have a huge level of demand for HyNet hydrogen from across the North West and North Wales from a range of sectors stretching from glass and paper to food and drink to consumer goods.
“HyNet will promote the decarbonization of industry and transport sectors and, by developing a hydrogen economy, is set to generate a £17 billion economic impact for North West England and North Wales, providing a much-needed boost for businesses across the region. “We are extremely pleased to be operating with Manchester Airport and HyNet to make a significant impact on decarbonizing aviation as we all perform our part in reaching net zero and combating weather change.”
Manchester Airport – as part of Manchester Airport Group & HyNet– has a target to make its operations net zero carbon by 2038, twelve years ahead of the UK national target and two years ahead of the target set for UK international airports in the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel
The benefit of hydrogen fuel technology will play a pivotal role in aviation decarbonization, alongside other levers including airspace modernization and the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
This statement on hydrogen technology arrives a year after Manchester Airport Group(MAG) declared its partnership with Fulcrum BioEnergy UK which aims to make Manchester Airport the 1st in the UK to have a direct supply of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) from mid-2020.
This means that the UK’s 3rd biggest airport is making progress towards the supply of both sustainable aviation fuel and hydrogen, laying the foundation for airlines to work low and zero-emission flights in the future. Manchester AirportGroup is also operating with Progressive Energy on how its onsite infrastructure can be adapted to deliver this technology into reality.
To support the publication of the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy in July this year, Manchester Airport Group gave 5 Jet Zero Pledges to support the decarbonization of the UK aviation sector. 1 pledge incentivizes the Group’s airlines to operate emission-free transatlantic flights, offering 5 years of free landing fees, and sits alongside others including commitments to improving education and PhD research on decarbonization.
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MAG’s long-term sustainability plans are detailed in its CSR Strategy “Working together for a brighter future”, launched in 2020. Alongside the 2038 net zero targets, the Strategy sets out other decarbonization initiatives and incentives including a commitment to introducing emission-based landing fees for airlines and the publication of league tables in the future.
Henri Murison, Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership stated: “The collaboration between Manchester Airport and HyNet is another fantastic example of the North of England being at the forefront of the UK’s green energy revolution, supporting jobs and growth as well as moving our steps closer towards Net Zero.
“Hydrogen will play an important role for the future of fuels in the UK, and it is pleasing to see developments in how we can ensure Manchester Airport has a direct supply of low-carbon hydrogen fuel that will provide benefits across the wider region.”
Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK said: “UK airlines are completely committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Hydrogen is an important part of the realization of this goal, alongside Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), carbon removals, airspace modernization, and other pathways, and offers exciting potential in the interim on shorter routes, including domestically in the UK.
“Airport infrastructure for hydrogen will be vital to enabling future zero-emission aircraft to operate, so we welcome today’s announcement by Manchester Airport and HyNet, and look forward to working with other UK airports on similar projects. Collaboration across UK aviation and aerospace is the only way we will hit net zero, and as airlines, we stay committed to playing our entire part in this shared endeavor.”
Professor Joe Howe, Chair of the North West Hydrogen Alliance and Executive Director of, the Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester, said: “The partnership between Manchester Airport and HyNet is a great example of how hydrogen can play a leading role in delivering net zero ambitions on a monumental scale here in the North West.
“The fact that Manchester Airport could become the 1st UK airport with a direct supply of low-carbon hydrogen fuel is an exciting prospect as we work towards creating a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future for the region.”
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