The path to net zero - achieving sustainable aviation
As global travel becomes more accessible and airports undergo major expansion programmes to keep up with customer and airline demand, the public scrutiny of carbon emissions is at an all-time high.
Global travel has been increasing steadily and public scrutiny of emissions, noise and airport expansion programmes within the aviation industry is at an all-time high. When Swedish activist Greta Thunberg sailed her boat from Plymouth to New York for the Climate Action Summit to call out the emissions that air travel is responsible for, the media responded. The press coverage achieved is testament that the issues raised are not only pertinent but are becoming more pervasive.
As sustainability becomes increasingly important, the reliance on the traditional electricity networks as the main supply of energy is diminishing due to grid-edge technologies becoming available and a greater need for resilient and sustainable solutions to keep businesses operating.
The availability of new technologies such as renewable generation including solar photo voltaics (PV) and combined heat and power engines (CHP), battery storage, microgrids and automation of traditional networks, means that it is now possible for airports to play an active role in deciding how they want to generate and manage their energy supply.
Airports can take advantage of new technologies to become more self-sufficient
The energy transition, new technologies and expansion programmes mean that airports can become less reliant on the local distribution network and become more self-sufficient. This will enable airports to create bespoke solutions that best fit the current and future energy needs of the airport, reduce costs of energy, manage demand more proactively, decarbonise operations and ensure security of supply.
Along with passenger growth, the pace of technological innovation and automation at airports is set to accelerate. This creates additional pressure for airports to ensure that their energy infrastructure can keep up with the demands of operating a modern airport characterised by the likes of passenger information system, e-Passport gates, self-service ticketing and baggage check-in. The increased reliance on electrification means that the airport has a heightened risk profile and faces more impact when supply is compromised.
With one of our airport clients, a piece of analytics we did showed a 2 milliseconds trip in electricity could disable a baggage handling system for two hours. After which, it would take four days to reunite the passengers with their luggage.
Invest in an energy strategy to build resilience ahead of time
Should airports be insuring themselves against such a resilience catastrophe? Our advice would be yes, because there are compelling reasons to do so. The integration of electrification into much of an airport’s operations means that resilience of supply has become paramount and this trend will continue.
An example of the move to electrification in society is the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). They currently account for about 2.9% of the new vehicles registered in the UK, however, by 2040, National Grid suggests that 100% of the new vehicles in the market will be electric and by 2050 the market share of EVs in the UK vehicle market is forecast to exceed 90%. This uptake will have a significant impact on energy consumption and resilience.
Given the availability of sensors and smart metering, leveraging data analytics to make data-driven decisions has never been more accessible. With monitoring technology and data-based insights, airports can operate their energy systems more intelligently and make real time adjustments.
Deep expertise in aviation and unparalleled safety record
We firmly believe a robust and integrated energy strategy for airports can help set the UK aviation industry apart. Increasing resilience, reducing your energy costs and improving sustainability are all interrelated and achievable.
We have been working with UK airports for more than 25 years, managing existing energy infrastructure and integrating new energy technologies. Our clients include Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City, Luton and Manchester. Increasingly, we have been working with our airport clients to take advantage of new technologies in addition to delivering traditional asset management activities.
We pride ourselves not only on our expertise in high voltage electrical infrastructure, but also on our industry-leading safety record, achieving nearly four million working hours without a single lost time injury.
Case study: London City Airport
We operate and maintain the airport’s existing network and we are now developing an innovative microgrid that will integrate solar PV, combine heat and power and smart automation that will not only improve the airport’s green credentials, but double the size of the electricity network, delivering the growth they require in a more sustainable way and support their net zero ambitions. Read the case study...