Amazon invests in zero carbon footprint aviation startup ZeroAvia

The startup is working on short-haul commercial passenger transport using hydrogen-electric technology.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Amazon has invested in ZeroAvia, a startup focused on the development of zero-emission aviation technologies. 

On Wednesday, the e-commerce giant said the investment has been made through the Climate Pledge Fund, a program launched in June by Amazon.

Founded in 2017, California-based ZeroAvia is a developer of hydrogen-electric aviation technologies with a goal of creating zero-emission, commercially-viable aircraft. 

ZeroAvia has already completed battery-electric test flights in the UK, as well as hydrogen fuel cell aircraft tests, in June and September this year, respectively. The company hopes to manage a flight test of 250 miles in the coming months. 

According to the startup, the firm eventually wants to develop a hydrogen-electric craft able to carry 10 - 20 passengers with a 500-mile range, and to increase its commercial worth, also intends to make such an aircraft suitable for purposes including deliveries and agriculture. 

Amazon / ZeroAvia

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ZeroAvia said Amazon pledged $21.4 million through a Series A funding round. Led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Ecosystem Integrity Fund, other investors included Shell, Horizons Ventures, and Summa Equity.

An additional $16.3 million has been secured from the UK government through the ATI Programme, which works with the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK to fund innovative technological projects. 

It is hoped that the funding will make it possible for ZeroAvia to develop a commercially-viable, 19-seater aircraft by 2023. The startup has raised $49.7 million in funding to date. 

Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund has earmarked $2 billion for investment in environmentally-friendly and sustainable technology companies. 

The overall aim of the program is to meet the goals of The Climate Pledge, forged by Amazon and Global Optimism -- an environmental change organization -- to become net-zero carbon by 2040. 

Amazon intends to reach this goal a decade ahead of entities that have agreed to the Paris Agreement, a binding treaty to reduce carbon emissions or become carbon neutral by 2050. 

As Amazon is one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world and relies on a global network to deliver products sold on the firm's platform, investment in zero-emission transport solutions that could be turned toward package deliveries makes sense -- and it is the delivery aspect of Amazon that needs to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible to meet The Climate Pledge. 

"ZeroAvia's zero-emission aviation powertrain has real potential to help decarbonize the aviation sector," commented Kara Hurst, VP of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon. "We hope this investment will further accelerate the pace of innovation to enable zero-emission air transport at scale."

Amazon has previously invested in startups including CarbonCure Technologies, Pachama, Redwood Materials, and Rivian. 

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