Sergey Kiselev, head of Europe for ZeroAvia, spoke to a Chamber SBI audience via internet link at a presentation on how hydrogen could be the key to a green island economy.
ZeroAvia is a leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation and other sectors and has already started on creating hydrogen-electric aircraft.
Mr Kiselev said there were four colours of hydrogen, based on its method of production.
About 70% of the gas produced globally is ‘grey’, created using fossil fuels. Unfortunately, for every tonne of hydrogen, eight tonnes of carbon dioxide is also produced.
At the other end of the scale is ‘green’ hydrogen, which has zero emissions and is produced using fresh water and electricity, with the electricity used to electrolyse the water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Mr Kiselev said that about 10% of the water used is turned into hydrogen.
Producing green hydrogen is currently about three times more expensive than grey, but the costs are coming down and in the next 10 years he predicted it would be able to compete with aviation fuel.
In cars and aircraft, hydrogen fuel cells could be used instead of batteries and this would give aircraft, for example, a much longer range.
ZeroAvia is aiming to bring in an aircraft in 2023 that will be capable of carrying up to 20 passengers and flying 500 nautical miles.
Its longer-term plan is to apply the technology to larger aircraft which can fly much longer distances.
There are several pilot schemes under way around the world and a number of countries have set out to use hydrogen as a means of reducing their carbon emissions, including the UK.
An early test flight by ZeroAvia took place at Cranfield University airport last September and saw the first flight of a small hydrogen-electric plane.
Additional flights are planned between Edinburgh and the Orkney Islands.
Mr Kiselev said there were two approaches to hydrogen power – either wait for the technology to develop or start small.
He suggested that the latter would work in Guernsey, perhaps with the installation of a hydrogen fuelling station, with buses making use of it.
‘This is probably the most immediate use you can put it to, given the scale of your consumption,’ he said.
The talk at the Chamber of Commerce’s Town headquarters was introduced by Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller of the Committee for Economic Development, who as well as being lead on digital, skills and entrepreneurship also co-founded the Sustainable Business Initiative, which organised the event.
SBI co-lead Jennifer Strachan ended the meeting by telling the audience that aviation and marine played a large role in creating CO2 in Guernsey and hydrogen could play a part in reducing that.