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June 14, 2024
Hydrogen Operations
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PR: Airbus, Houston Airports and the Center for Houston’s Future (CHF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to study the feasibility of a hydrogen hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

Airports are at the forefront of leading the transition towards the decarbonization of operations across the entire value chain.  Airbus’ “Hydrogen Hub at Airports” concept brings together key airport ecosystem players to better understand hydrogen infrastructure needs for future aircraft and to develop a stepped approach to decarbonizing all airport-associated infrastructure using hydrogen.

In this study, the partners will work together to rethink how their infrastructures could be designed and operated to reduce their overall environmental footprint and welcome future hydrogen-powered aircraft such as those Airbus plans to bring to the air in 2035.

The study will focus on identifying opportunities for and barriers to hydrogen supply, infrastructure development, and usage at the airport and to potentially advance further developments. The scope of the study will include end-use in aviation, airport ground transportation, airport heating, and potentially supply to adjacent customers in transport and local industries.

The use of hydrogen to power future aircraft is not only expected to help eliminate aircraft CO2 emissions in the air, but could also help decarbonize air transport activities on the ground. This particular study reflects the partners’ ambition to use their respective expertise to support the decarbonization of the aviation industry:

  • Airbus: Airbus pioneers sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world. The company constantly innovates to provide efficient and technologically-advanced solutions in aerospace. Airbus is currently developing the first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft with the ambition to enter into service in 2035 and promoting the H2 Hubs at airport concept.
  • Houston Airports: The city provides a safe and dynamic air services network that fosters economic vitality for the transportation industry and facilitates a strong level of global connectivity for a diverse and growing population living throughout the greater Houston region. The Houston Airport System forms one of North America’s largest public airport systems and positions Houston as the international passenger and cargo gateway to the south-central United States and a primary gateway to Latin America.
  • Center for Houston’s Future: The Center is leading a  broad-based effort to create a clean hydrogen ecosystem across the value chain  in the Houston region and across the Gulf Coast. The Center was a founding organizer of the HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub, selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of seven hydrogen hubs nationally.

“For hydrogen to meet its full potential, the entire airport ecosystem – including airport authorities, energy suppliers and regulatory authorities – needs to come together and collaborate,” said Karine Guenan, Airbus’ Vice President ZEROe Ecosystem. “This joint-study will help us better understand what hydrogen infrastructure would be needed at Houston’s airport to support hydrogen and low carbon aviation in the future. What we learn here can also support knowledge around the world.”

“Houston’s airports are experiencing tremendous growth, connecting our city to the world like never before,” said  Jim Szczesniak, the aviation director for the City of Houston. “As we continue to expand and modernize our facilities, participating in this sustainability study is crucial. Continuing to build a sustainable airport system will ensure a healthy future for Houston, attract top talent and businesses, and demonstrate our commitment to being a responsible global citizen. This study will provide us with valuable insights to guide our development and position Houston as a global leader in sustainable aviation innovation for generations to come.”

“The Center for Houston’s Future is pleased to have played a crucial role in bringing together the partners for this study. With Houston’s role as the world’s energy capital, our record of energy innovation and desire to lead in the business of low-carbon energy, Houston is the perfect place to develop our airports as North American clean hydrogen pioneers,” said Brett Perlman, the Center’s CEO and President.

The study in Houston is scheduled for completion at the end of March 2025.

  • Selecting Houston is appropriate as that city is the center of the US energy industry.
  • For Houston, this is a win – it will benefit from the steep learning curve and associated IP.
  • Houston will essentially be in the driver’s seat, defining how airports deploy hydrogen.
  • First-mover advantage will likely be significant for the city’s airport systems and Airbus.
author avatar
Addison Schonland
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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