ZeroAvia, an Eco-Friendly Startup Targeted by the World’s Richest People
Eco-friendly aviation startup, ZeroAvia, received funding of US$ 21.4 million or IDR 303.9 billion from an investment company owned by Bill Gates to the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos. ZeroAvia innovates to convert aircraft emissions into hydrogen.
ZeroAvia co-founder and CEO Val Miftakhov noted that the aviation sector is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions that cause global warming. On the one hand, this sector, logistics, and industry are the most difficult to decarbonize.
Therefore, the company based in the United States (US) and the UK developed and tested the ZA-600 powertrain that can fly a 10-20 seat aircraft for 500 miles using hydrogen power. The startup relies on electrolyzer technology that allows natural gas to be converted into hydrogen. They also make their own fuel from electricity and water to power airplane systems.
Try the First Commercial-Scale Electric Battery Flight in 2020
Earlier this year, the startup tested its first commercial-scale electric battery flight. It is also the first flight of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft. “We are closing the gap for the aviation industry to start its transition from fossil fuels,” said Val as quoted from the company’s press release, last weekend (16/12).
He also said he would complete a 250-mile flight in the next three months. Currently, more than ten airlines are preparing to implement the powertrain from ZeroAvia by 2023. The startup has also signed a letter of intent with operators to retrofit more than 100 aircraft.
“Both aviation and financial markets are aware of the idea that hydrogen is the only meaningful path to large-scale zero-emissions commercial aviation,” Val said.
The plan is for the company to enter the market first with retrofitting of a 10-20 seat capacity aircraft for short-haul flights in Asia and the Caribbean. However, because the company has relationships with the seven largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, it has expanded its scope.
In the future, the company plans to integrate services with passenger aircraft with a capacity of 100 seats such as the A320 or A737. ZeroAvia has also worked with Enapter to provide an electrolyzer. Going forward, the company wants to expand the coverage of the system at other airfields in the UK and US for demonstration.
Val is optimistic that the technology will be increasingly needed in the future. “By 2050 everyone wants to be zero emissions,” he said. According to him, various countries will also intensify their zero-emission policies. The British government has even provided a budget of 12.3 million pounds or US$ 16.6 million to help ZeroAvia in making 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft by 2023.
He estimates that there are more countries implementing policies or regulations related to carbon emission elimination. He wants the technology he makes to be ready to use when that happens. With this innovation, several investors are interested in investing in ZeroAvia.
Has Raised Funds from Many Investors
The company raised US$ 21.4 million in a Series A funding round led by the Ecosystem Integrity Fund and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Both are supported by Bill Gates. Other participating investors include Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Horizons Ventures Ltd., Shell Ventures, and Summa Equity.
Since its inception, ZeroAvia has raised US$ 49.7 million. The richest man in the world Jeff Bezos is investing in ZeroAvia because Amazon is committed to decarbonization by 2040. “ZeroAvia’s zero-emission aviation powertrain has real potential to help decarbonize the aviation sector,” said Amazon VP Worldwide Sustainability Kara Hurst quoted from TechCrunch.
Managing director and science lead Breakthrough Energy Ventures Eric Toone said that ZeroAvia can be the ticket to solving many problems in the aviation industry. Based on PitchBook data, total funding flowing to environmental startups such as ZeroAvia reached US$ 15.7 billion this year, an increase of two times the annual average in the past decade.