That’s according to a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), which states that evolutionary liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft could cap, but not absolutely reduce, aviation CO2 compared to 2035 levels.

Published today (Jan 26), the Performance Analysis of Evolutionary Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft paper does, however, suggest that liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft will be heavier, with an increased maximum take-off mass, and less efficient, with a higher energy requirement per revenue-passenger-kilometre.

That being said, ICCT predicts that liquid hydrogen-powered narrow-body aircraft could transport 165 passengers up to 3,400 km and liquid hydrogen-powered turboprop aircraft could transport 70 passengers up to 1,400km, making it an ideal solution for short haul flights.

And when it comes to pricing, liquid hydrogen is expected to be cheaper than e-kerosene (sustainable aviation fuel) on routes up to 3,400km.

“While the market for liquid hydrogen aircraft could be broad, powering it with green liquid hydrogen will increase fuel costs compared to conventional Jet A aircraft. Carbon pricing would be needed to make green liquid hydrogen cost-competitive, with breakeven compared to Jet A expected at between $102 and $277/tonne CO2e in 2050, depending on geography,” the paper states.

“However, given the industry-wide push toward non-biomass SAFs, synthetic fuels like e-kerosene would likely be a better cost comparison for hydrogen than Jet A, especially from 2035 onwards.”

Overall, the paper confirms the viability of hydrogen when it comes to hydrogen-powered flights, however, realises that the increasing need to decarbonisation cannot singularly land on the clean energy carrier itself.