Skip to content

Hydrogen in Aviation: A Simulation of Demand, Price Dynamics, and CO2 Emission Reduction Potentials


Aviation contributes to anthropogenic climate change by emitting both carbon dioxide (CO2) and non-CO2 emissions through the combustion of fossil fuels. One approach to reduce the climate impact of aviation is the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel. Two distinct technological options are presently under consideration for the implementation of hydrogen in aviation: hydrogen fuel cell architectures and the direct combustion of hydrogen. In this study, a hydrogen demand model is developed that considers anticipated advancements in liquid hydrogen aircraft technologies, forecasted aviation demand, and aircraft startup and retirement cycles. The analysis indicates that global demand for liquid hydrogen in aviation could potentially reach 17 million tons by 2050, leading to a 9% reduction in CO2 emissions from global aviation. Thus, the total potential of hydrogen in aviation extends beyond this, considering that the total market share of hydrogen aircraft on suitable routes in the model is projected to be only 27% in 2050 due to aircraft retirement cycles. Additionally, it is shown, that achieving the potential demand for hydrogen in aviation depends on specific market prices. With anticipated declines in current production costs, hydrogen fuel costs would need to reach about 70 EUR/MWh by 2050 to fulfill full demand in aviation, assuming biofuels provide the cheapest option for decarbonization alongside hydrogen. If e-fuels are the sole option for decarbonization alongside hydrogen, which is the more probable scenario, the entire hydrogen demand potential in aviation would be satisfied according to this study’s estimates at significantly higher hydrogen prices, approximately 180 EUR/MWh.

Funding source: This paper was prepared as part of the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) self-funded projects EXACT and VMo4Orte.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Germany

Article metrics loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error