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EDP and Embraer join forces in an electric plane research project

Thursday 19, November 2020

The partnership aims to research and develop technologies for charging and storing energy in batteries for aviation. Tests have already started and the first test flight is scheduled for 2021.

EDP Brasil, and the aeronautical manufacturer Embraer, entered into a partnership for the research and development of an airplane, 100% supported by electric propulsion technology. The project involves the investigation of an energy storage and recharge system that will use the EMB-203 Ipanema as a test model - this prototype, which is already in development, should make its first demonstration flight in 2021.

Thus, the two companies intend to join forces to evaluate and test the applicability of high voltage batteries in the electric propulsion system of a small plane. This is one of the main challenges of the project and which complements the research that Embraer already has underway. The objective now is to accelerate the knowledge of the necessary technologies for the usage and integration of batteries and electric motors and, with this, contribute to increase the energy efficiency of the propulsion systems of the aircraft.

“EDP aims to lead the energy transition to a low carbon economy,” stresses Miguel Setas, the president of EDP in Brazil. "This partnership with Embraer in the development of its first aircraft demonstrating 100% electric propulsion technology represents a new frontier for our investment in electric mobility, contributing to position Brazil as a leading player in this market."

The aviation electrification process is part of a set of efforts, by Embraer and other companies in the aeronautical sector, to meet environmental sustainability commitments, including goals for reducing carbon emissions. “The history of making strategic partnerships through agile cooperation mechanisms makes Embraer one of the Brazilian companies that stimulates global knowledge networks the most, that allow for a significant increase in the country's competitiveness,” explains Luís Carlos Affonso, vice president of Embraer's Engineering and Corporate Strategy. “It is a pleasure to be able to now also count on EDP on this front of scientific research to build a sustainable future. Innovation is one of the pillars of Embraer's new strategy for the coming years."

The first tests of the electric plane have already started, using a small, single-engine plane as a demonstration platform, in which the teams make the primary assessment of electrification technologies. Weight, efficiency and energy quality, thermal control and management, safety, loading and unloading cycles - these are some of the most relevant indicators that are being evaluated in this operation.

Ground tests have been carried out at the Embraer unit in Botucatu, in the interior of São Paulo, where the “electric plane” will be prepared for its first flight from the Embraer unit in Gavião Peixoto, also in the state of São Paulo.

This partnership represents an alliance between two large companies that share sustainability objectives, who intend to collaborate on technologies that can mark the future of transport through electrification. In Brazil, EDP aims to electrify 100% of its fleet by 2030, as well as to develop new offers and commercial solutions that promote the energy transition. 

About the companies

With over 20 years of activity in Brazil, EDP is one of the largest private companies in the electricity sector, operating in the entire value chain in the country. The company has more than 10,000 employees, and has one thermoelectric generation and six hydroelectric units, in addition to operating in the areas of transmission, commercialization and services of energy. In distribution, it serves about 3.5 million customers in São Paulo and Espírito Santo, in addition to being the main shareholder of Celesc, in Santa Catarina. In 2020 it was elected as the most innovative company in the electric sector in the Valor Inovação ranking, of the Valor Económico newspaper, and is a reference in Governance and sustainability, having been on the B3 Corporate sustainability Index (ISE) for 14 consecutive years.

A global aerospace company based in Brazil, Embraer operates in defense and security, commercial, executive and agricultural aviation segments. The company designs, develops, manufactures and markets aircrafts and systems, in addition to providing after-sales services and support to customers. Since its founding in 1969, Embraer has delivered more than 8,000 aircrafts. On average, every 10 seconds, an aircraft manufactured by Embraer takes off from somewhere in the world, carrying more than 145 million passengers annually. Embraer is a leader in the manufacture of commercial jets with up to 150 seats and the main exporter of high added-value goods in Brazil. The company maintains industrial units, offices, service centers and parts distribution centers, among other activities, in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe, including Portugal.