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Japan will invest $250 million to develop hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircraft, Nikkei reports.

October 9, 2023, Tokyo – Japan will provide support for the technology needed to power electrified aircraft, Nikkei has learned, in a bid to help the nation’s companies compete in an emerging segment of the aerospace industry.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry intends to provide aid totaling 30.6 billion yen ($205 million).

17.3 billion yen will be spent on developing hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircraft, while 13.3 billion will be spent on applications such as fuel-saving engine management technologies.

The ministry’s funding plan, which will be discussed at a future meeting, comes as Airbus plans to launch the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft by 2035.

Others are working on planes that run on clean-burning hydrogen to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from flying.

The ministry will begin recruiting participants for the aid program this year, including aerospace, battery, and auto industries. It intends to begin research in fiscal 2024, with prototype trials beginning in fiscal 2030.

Hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircraft

Fuel cell aircraft have already flown in the United States and Europe.

To generate energy, fuel cells use a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Powering an aircraft with fuel cells necessitates a larger output than powering a car.

The ministry sees Japanese aerospace suppliers playing a part in a worldwide supply chain for hydrogen-powered planes. Japanese suppliers supplied approximately 35% of the airframe components and 15% of the engine components for the Boeing 787. Japan also intends to develop worldwide standards for airplane fuel cell systems.

International Civil Aviation Organization

Member governments of the International Civil Aviation Organization have set an aspirational target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions from international flights by 2050. According to International Energy Agency estimates, CO2 emissions from domestic and international aviation were around 700 million tons in 2021, accounting for around 2% of world CO2 emissions from energy generation and industrial processes.

Japan will provide funding for the development of hydrogen-powered planes through the Green Innovation Fund, which is supervised by the ministry’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization.

Source: Nikkei