Within the next three years, the Baltic Sea Region is expected to lay the foundations for the transition of the aviation sector to renewable energy. It is a part of the BSR HyAirport project, an international project that has been officially launched and brings together 16 airports, airlines, research institutions and technology companies from Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Poland and Germany, as well as 24 associated organisations.
From the Latvian part, the Riga Airport, as well as the Latvian Water Harvesting Association, the Latvian University of Biosciences and Technologies and aviation fuel supplier Gulfsteram Oil Ltd. are involved in the project as partners, while the national airline "airBaltic", Liepāja Airport, Civil Aviation Agency and the Ministry of Transport are among the associated participants.
The objective of BSR HyAirport is to create the conditions for adapting airport infrastructure to hydrogen-powered aircraft flights over the next three years, preparing airports for the storage, processing and delivery of green hydrogen as the future energy source for aviation. The project is being implemented to revive regional air traffic and better connect the Baltic Sea regions with aviation hubs, and therefore also involves a number of smaller airports and regional airlines.
"Investments in innovations and sustainability are an essential part of the development strategy of Riga Airport. The BSR HyAirport project is an important step towards energy transformation in the aviation industry," says Laila Odiņa, Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport. "Many questions still need to be answered before hydrogen can be used on a regular basis, which is why we are delighted to be involved in a collaborative project between airports and other aviation companies in the Baltic Sea Region to work together to find solutions for aviation sustainability and to reduce the industry's impact on climate change."
The European Union supports BSR HyAirport through the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme, with a total of approximately EUR 3.8 million distributed among various partners. The objective of the project is to establish the use of hydrogen technology in aviation. Gaseous green hydrogen is initially well suited as a fuel for short-haul flights, making it particularly suitable for aviation needs in the Baltic Sea region, and regular air traffic with regional aircraft of up to about 80 seats could be expected already this decade.
The total budget of BSR HyAirport is EUR 4.8 million. About EUR 420 thousand are planned for the work of Riga Airport in the three-year period. The project has three work packages — Solution Development, Pilot Project Implementation and Solution/Knowledge Transfer — with several activities in each package. Riga Airport will be involved in the research and development of the legal framework for the introduction of hydrogen technologies into aircraft maintenance and aerodrome handling processes, the testing of hydrogen-powered aircraft and aerodrome handling equipment, the communication of project results to the project target groups and the development of a sustainability plan for project results.