Airports going green…

Article from Road Warrior Voices

Another year has come and (almost) gone, but what a year it was! Among other things, 2015 could wind up being remembered for being the year environmentally-friendly green technology finally began sneaking into the mainstream. From an airport running entirely on solar energy to floor tile tech that may one day power all of Heathrow just by being walked upon, these were our favorite green airport announcements of the year.

Sea-Tac Airport to fuel all planes with biofuel. The Emerald City’s commercial airport struggled at times to keep up with demand in 2015. But as the nation’s fastest growing airport, Sea-Tac has little time to rest on its laurels, and has had to pursue innovation at every opportunity. Case in point; the airport announced that following a Biofuel Infrastructure Feasibility Study in 2016, a blend of biofuel and traditional jet fuel will power the planes that gas up at Sea-Tac, reducing emissions by 50 to 80%.

The switch to biofuel will affect 26 airlines operating nearly 400,000 flights a year, beginning with Alaska Airlines. Sea-Tac will become the first U.S. airport to transition to the biofuel blend, working in conjunction with Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines and Boeing.

Cochin International Airport Limited is the world’s first 100% solar-powered airport. Few would have guessed that an airport in southwest India would be the first in the world to harness 100% of its electricity from the sun, but that is exactly what happened in 2015. A 45-acre solar farm with more than 46,000 solar panels now generates enough energy to not only power the airport, but the surrounding homes and businesses as well.

The weight of 300,000 tons of carbon emissions — that’s 50,000 elephants-worth — will be saved from the atmosphere over the next 25 years by using the sun’s rays instead of fossil fuels. It would take 3 million trees to offset that carbon.

Galapagos Ecological Airport switches to wind & solar. Cochin may have hogged the lime…err…sunlight with their switch to 100% solar, but Galapagos Ecological Airport announced a potent hybrid of sustainable energy of its own in 2015. The small airport was already named the world’s first green airport when it was built in 2012, but it became fully renewable this year. Now, 65% of its energy comes from three windmill turbines, while photovoltaic panels in the walkways supply the remaining 35% via solar.

The airport sees about as many passengers passing through in a year as Hartsfield-­Jackson Atlanta International Airport deals with in a day, so the green energy solutions in play on this small island aren’t exactly a perfect fit for the industry the world over. Still, it’s exciting to see an airport that can do better make good on its potential.

Floor tiles power Heathrow Airport pilot program. While perhaps only deployed on a small scale, a company called PaveGen’s brilliant floor tiles made light bulbs — and us — light up this year. By harnessing the plentiful power of footfall energy via copper coils, magnets and batteries just below the surface, PaveGen tiles could one day power not just Heathrow, where they are currently being tested out, but every airport on the planet. After all, one footstep provides enough energy to light an LED bulb for 30 seconds.

Airlines invest big in biofuels. Sea-Tac Airport wasn’t the only one to show interest in biofuels in 2015. Airlines also bet big on cleaner-burning energy sources, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

United announced a $30 Million stake in a company creating jet fuel from household garbage, along with a plan to fuel its LA-to-SF route on planes running on animal fats and farm waste. British Airways committed to spending $550 Million on fuel derived from the UK’s municipal garbage. And Southwest began using a fuel created from wood detritus from Oregon’s logging industry. In 2015, it wasn’t about who was pursuing biofuels, but rather, who wasn’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *