Airline meal-sized £700k awarded by UK.gov for green aviation: That's for eco-tech rather than planes, mind

Infrastructure to support lower-emission aircraft, is the hope


More than a dozen projects that might someday provide the infrastructure at airports to sustain zero-emission aviation are on the receiving end of grant money to continue their research.

£700k isn't very much in aviation terms – if any private jet fans are reading this, that's the cost of about one-and-a-half roundtrips to Sydney in a Gulfstream G-650. So maybe fly commercial, and, er, reuse that tux.

It's just as well, then, that the £700,000 will not be spent on the development of aircraft.

Instead, it'll be divvied up between 15 projects and used for essential airside support to allow UK airports and their ground crews to handle new types of electric and hydrogen aircraft.

This includes wireless charging for electric planes and swappable battery packs to keep flight turnover times to a minimum. Other areas singled out for funding include hydrogen storage and aircraft refuelling.

One of those to receive funding is ZeroAvia, a Gloucestershire-based company that is focused on hydrogen-electric aviation. At the moment, it's developing small aircraft – capable of carrying between nine and 19 passengers – with a range of some 500 miles (804km).

In a statement, Val Miftakhov, chief exec of ZeroAvia, said he believes there will be a "hydrogen-electric engine in every aircraft" because it's the only viable way to "deliver truly zero-emission aircraft."

He went on to say: "When we deliver our first hydrogen-electric powertrains into service in 2024, operators need to be able to fuel their aircraft with low carbon hydrogen, and today's announcement is a big step towards that."

In August, ZeroAvia inked a deal with UK outfit Octopus Hydrogen - Octopus Energy Group's newly created hydrogen arm – to provide 100 per cent green hydrogen to power its aviation research and development.

Earlier this week Octopus Energy hit the headlines after Generation Investment Management – a green energy investment fund run by former US Veep Al Gore -– snapped up a 13 per cent stake in the British energy company for £438m, valuing the company bigger than UK energy giant Centrica, the parent of British Gas.

Elsewhere, the government is shelling out £3.8m in contracts to try and find a way to reduce the impact of offshore windfarms on air defence and air traffic control surveillance systems.

While wind farms are hailed as a way of producing green energy, they do contribute to "clutter" or the unwanted echoes that can add "noise" to electronic systems such as radar.

Wing Commander Kevin Walton, co-chair of the Ministry of Defence/Offshore Wind Industry Council Air Defence Mitigation Task Force, said the work is important to enable the government to hit its renewable energy targets "without compromising the surveillance of UK airspace." ®

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