In order to increase the flight range of unmanned aircraft operating out of Groningen Airport Eelde, Drone Hub GAE is looking to integrate hydrogen as a fuel source.
Translation by Traci White
The Drone Hub GAE, which began limited operations earlier this year, is experimenting with a range of applications for drones, such as agriculture, firefighting and building inspection. The range that drones can fly is currently limited to around half an hour, but plans to use hydrogen as a fuel source for drones could make it possible for them to fly as long as an hour and a half.
RTV Drenthe reports that the hub has ordered equipment to build a drone which runs on hydrogen and is planning to work with local initiatives that have experience with hydrogen technology. Egbert Swierts, the CEO of OmniDrones, one of the companies at the Drone Hub, says that the Netherlands should do more with hydrogen technology in order to remain competitive with other countries.
Drones and hydrogen in the north
Plans to set up the Drone Hub at Groningen Airport Eelde were announced in 2016, and serves as a central location for regional governments, commercial organisations, tech companies and universities to collaborate and experiment with unmanned aircraft.
Although legal frame work about the privacy and safety implications of drones are still being developed, drone-related jobs seem to be a growing industry in the north. In 2020, there may be as many as 151 new jobs in Leeuwarden for military drone maintenance. In March of this year, a pilot was conducted to see how well drone delivery of hard-to-come-by medications would work on the Wadden Island of Schiermonnikoog.
The hydrogen industry is also on the rise in the region. In June, Hoogezand-based gas technology company Holthausen received a grant for four million euros to develop green hydrogen tank station facilities. Groningen Sea Ports is planning to build pipelines to transport hydrogen for chemical and industrial use in Eemshaven and Delfzijl.
Is hydrogen, particularly when generated from green sources, a promising replacement for the natural gas industry in the region? In the first episode of The Northern Times’ new podcast, Econ 050, we’ll speak with professor Michael Mulder about the future of natural gas in Groningen, continued dependence on gas as an electricity source and the role of the Dutch state in the industry. The podcast will be dropping soon, so be sure to keep an eye on the site for the launch!
Photo source: Drone Hub GAE