Hydrogen-electric aircraft start-up wins $116m in financing

The UK Infrastructure Bank has joined the latest round of fundraising totalling $116 million for hydrogen-electric aircraft start-up ZeroAvia.

The new round of investment is set to accelerate the Anglo-US venture’s journey to certification of its first engines and advance research and development that will scale clean propulsion technology for larger aircraft.

The financing, also involving Airbus, supports the UK’s status as a market leader in research and development in both aviation and hydrogen and will support the company’s ambitious growth plans in the UK.

The fund raising will help support the government’s target to decarbonise aviation by 2050 by developing new clean propulsion technologies that can be flying between UK airports this decade, ZeroAvia believes.

Aviation is seen as one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonise, contributing the equivalent of more than 38 million tonnes of CO2 from international and domestic journeys starting and ending in the UK, accords g to ZeroAvia. It believes around a quarter of UK carbon emissions are predicted to come from aviation in 2050. 

The company completed initial flight tests of a retrofitted Dornier 228 aircraft in July.

The 19-seat testbed aircraft, with a full-size prototype hydrogen-electric engine on its left wing and jet fuel-powered turboprop on the other, first flew in January from Cotswold airport in Kemble, Gloucestershire.

Founder and chief executive Val Miftakhov said: “This backing by such a preeminent investor as the UK Infrastructure Bank will help us deliver the first commercial zero-emission flights and help the UK realise substantial export potential.”

UK Infrastructure Bank head of banking and investments Ian Brown added: “This is a great example of the bank supporting a first of a kind technology that has real potential to have a telling impact on carbon emissions and help position the UK at the forefront of a developing green hydrogen ecosystem.

“Aviation and hydrogen are sectors that need significant private investment to get to net zero. 

“By providing confidence to investors, our equity has helped to crowd in the private investment needed for the continued development of this cutting-edge technology and should help stimulate the development and deployment of hydrogen technology across other hard to decarbonise sectors.”

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