Rolls-Royce is planning an £80m investment into the development of energy storage systems (ESS) that will enable aircraft to fly over 100 miles on a single charge.
Set to take place over the next decade, the investment in ESS is expected to create around 300 jobs by 2030 and position Rolls Royce as a leading supplier of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for aviation.
Rolls-Royce said its certified ESS products will power electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for eVTOLs (electric vertical takeoff and landing) in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market and fixed-wing aircraft, with up to 19 seats, in the commuter market. Rolls-Royce added that is planning to integrate over five million battery cells per annum into modular systems by 2035.
In a statement, Rob Watson, director of electrical, Rolls-Royce, said: “We are developing a portfolio of energy storage solutions to complement our electrical propulsion systems. This will ensure that we can offer our customers a complete electric propulsion system for their platform, whether that is an eVTOL or a commuter aircraft. It will enable us to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all-electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems, which is incredibly exciting as these new markets develop and expand.”
Rolls-Royce has designed 10 different aerospace battery systems and four designs have flown in three aircraft, accumulating over 250 hours of flight. Another two designs will complete their first flight in aircraft in 2021. This includes a battery developed with Electroflight, Rolls Royce’s UK manufacturing partner in ACCEL, a programme aiming to develop the world’s fastest all-electric plane.
ACCEL and the initial research and technology undertaken to develop ESS are being supported by the government through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). Rolls-Royce is also working with WMG, University of Warwick through its High Value Manufacturing Catapult on ESS development.
Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are currently working with Scandinavian airline Widerøe to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, which is planned to be ready for revenue service in 2026. Rolls-Royce will deliver the entire electrical propulsion system including an energy storage system for the new P-VOLT aircraft.