Going green: Sustainable development remains a top priority
A host of new carbon reducing initiatives, renewable energy plans and more show that sustainable development continues to be a top priority for the region’s airports, writes Joe Bates.
Shanghai airports rewarded for green, energy saving efforts
Shanghai’s Pudong and Hongqiao airports have received the top rating in China’s first carbon evaluation of airports.
Eight airports, including Pudong and Hongqiao airports – under the administration of the Shanghai Airport Authority (SAA) – were awarded the highest three stars rating in the assessment.
In recent years, SAA notes that it has adhered to an eco-friendly development path. Indeed, in 2022, it rolled out a dual-carbon development strategy, took the lead in completing dual-carbon system research in the civil aviation industry, and introduced goals, paths and tasks to achieve peak carbon and carbon neutrality at Shanghai’s airports.
Hongqiao Airport has built the first airport parking lot in China that provides charging services and dedicated queue channels for new energy taxis.
Pudong Airport, meanwhile, has installed a total of 1,584 charging stations. In terms of their energy supplies, the energy centres of the two airports have adopted water storage and cooling technologies.
This, says SAA, has significantly saved energy costs by preparing for night-time electricity consumption and providing air conditioning cooling during the day in a staggered manner, helping to smooth the peaks and troughs of the city’s power grid.
The carbon evaluation was approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China and carried out by the China Civil Airports Association after examining the energy-saving benefits for both airports.
Brisbane achieves Level 4 status in ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme
Brisbane Airport (BNE) has become the first Australian airport to receive Level 4 ‘Transformation’ status in ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.
The new status recognises Brisbane Airport’s long-term carbon management strategy towards absolute emissions reductions and, it believes, evidence of how it is forging meaningful partnerships to reduce the emissions of airport its partners.
“Given Australia’s reliance on air travel to connect to the rest of the world, partnering with all parts of the aviation sector to decarbonise the industry is essential to protecting the natural heritage that Queensland is world-renowned for,” says Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC).
“We are playing an active role in enabling the airport community and aviation sector to decarbonise. Queensland is well placed to be part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuels revolution and design of next generation aircraft.”
Brisbane Airport is only the tenth airport in Asia-Pacific to reach Level 4 or above carbon accreditation status. ACI Asia-Pacific’s director general, Stefano Baronci, commented: “We are proud of Brisbane Airport’s excellent achievement in reducing carbon emissions and setting
an example for airports in the region.
“Brisbane Airport is firmly positioning itself as one of the leaders in efficient carbon management and this achievement truly demonstrates its firm commitment to invest in a more sustainable future.
“It’s encouraging to see airports making tremendous efforts to adapt to the impact of climate change and enhance climate-resilience in an era of unprecedented challenges for the industry.”
SITA to help Hong Kong gateway achieve its carbon emissions goal
Hong Kong International Airport has selected SITA to provide a carbon management platform to monitor data on carbon emissions across the airport environment.
The move will help the airport track key performance indicators as the airport progresses towards its net zero carbon goal.
SITA’s carbon management platform, to be fully deployed by summer 2023, will collect and aggregate data on carbon emissions from a variety of sources within the airport.
It will span Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions and include data from 29 participating business partners across the airport value chain, overseeing services such as ground handling, aircraft maintenance, air cargo logistics and catering.
In 2012, HKIA operator, Airport Authority Hong Kong, pledged to make the gateway the world’s greenest airport, reinforcing this goal in 2021 with the announcement of its 2050 Net Zero Carbon Pledge, a commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Airport Scope 1 and 2 emissions stem largely from fossil fuel energy consumed to operate the terminal building, vehicles, and equipment, while Scope 3 emissions — indirect emissions originating from the airport’s value chain and business partners — are more difficult to track and represent a significant contributor to overall airport emissions.
In the case of HKIA, airport business partners account for more than 50% of airport-wide ground emissions.
HKIA has adopted an airport-wide approach for carbon management, working collaboratively with business partners to set carbon reduction targets and implement measures to accelerate airport-wide carbon reduction.
And while the airport already has an online emissions tracking system, it does not unify emissions data collected from the many sources active in the airport environment, requiring more time-consuming manual processes.
SITA’s solution, supported by leading net-zero technology partner Envision Digital, aggregates data streams from across the airport environment and participating business partners and consolidates these into a single customisable dashboard.
This, it says, allows the tracking of emissions data alongside key performance indicators towards HKIA’s Net Zero Carbon Pledge, the dashboard interface facilitates carbon performance tracking, providing the granularity to monitor individual emissions sources against specific targets.
AAHK’s general manager for sustainability, Peter Lee, said: “The development of this new carbon management system will provide comprehensive, accurate carbon emissions tracking against the long-term target for both AAHK and each of our pledged business partners, and serves as a foundation for transparent reporting.”
Mitigating the impact of climate change
Kansai Airports has been selected as the Osaka Governor’s Award winner for the 2022 Osaka Climate Change Action Awards.
The ‘Osaka Climate Change Award’ is given to companies with offices in Osaka Prefecture or their business facilities that have made outstanding efforts to set an example for others regarding climate change counter measures and heat island effect mitigation.
In response to the damage caused by Typhoon Jebi in September 2018, Kansai International Airport raised the seawalls around the airport island by adding the projected sea level rise due to climate change to the usual amount of raising, as well as installing wave-dissipating blocks, raising electrical equipment to above ground level, and installing large scale water cut off barriers.
The award was given in recognition of Kansai International Airport’s disaster prevention project as the best effort in the field of application from comprehensive perspectives such as sustainability and ripple effects.
“This disaster management project aims to mitigate and contain the effects of natural disasters, such as unexpected typhoons that have become larger due to climate change, and minimise their impact on the Kansai economy,” said an airport statement.
New rooftop solar arrays for Auckland Airport
Auckland Airport is looking skywards as it takes its first steps to generate onsite renewable energy, with plans for rooftop solar systems atop two of its newest buildings.
Premium outlet centre Mānawa Bay, being built to the north-east of the airport precinct, will support what’s expected to be the largest rooftop solar system in New Zealand on top of the 35,000sqm building.
At 2.3-megawatts, the solar array will generate the equivalent of 80% of the 100-store centre’s power usage when it opens in 2024. Also under construction is the NZ$300 million-plus Transport Hub opposite the international terminal that will support a solar array of 1.2 megawatts on its 14,000sqm roof.
That’s enough to power the attached office building and electric vehicle charging stations within its car park.
“Using solar as a renewable energy source is a key step towards meeting our target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030,” enthused Auckland Airport’s chief executive, Carrie Hurihanganui.
“Solar energy makes sense at the airport for many reasons. Large, flat roof structures and sunlight are things we have in abundance, so rooftop solar systems can provide a resilient supply of renewable energy as the airport grows.
“We also recognise that new development generates an increase in carbon and we’re actively taking steps to minimise this.”
Solar power production capacity from Mānawa Bay and the Transport Hub is expected to generate enough energy to power 634 houses per year and avoid approximately 588 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year – equivalent to a Toyota Corolla driving the length of New Zealand 1,865 times.
“We are committed to a 90% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from a 2019 baseline, with the remaining circa 10% to be addressed through the purchase of certified carbon removals until technology development offers other alternatives,” said Hurihanganui.
“With the airport’s energy demands expected to grow significantly over the next decade, we are looking for opportunities to meet future energy needs with a mixture of on-site and off-site renewable energy sources.”
Auckland Airport’s current annual power usage is equivalent to 5,000 homes or a town about the size of Wanaka. But power use in about 10 years’ time is estimated to be equivalent to 16,000 households (or a town about the size of Whanganui), driven by the forecast growth in passenger numbers and terminal development.
“We are committed to growing Auckland Airport in a way that’s sustainable environmentally, economically and socially, and solar power production is a new chapter in this story,” added Hurihanganui.
As a result, plans are already underway to ensure future terminal developments are solar-capable. This includes the combined domestic and international jet terminal.
The gateway is also helping to make electric vehicles a viable and environmentally-friendly option for its customers, so when the new Transport Hub opens in late 2024, it will have dedicated spaces throughout the carpark for electric vehicle charging stations.
Auckland Airport has disclosed a decarbonisation pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This pathway targets a 90% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions from a 2019 baseline, and is aligned with 1.5oC.
Hamad demonstrates commitment towards sustainable practices
Hamad International Airport (DOH) has demonstrated its green credentials by successfully renewing its Level 3 ‘Optimisation’ status in ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.
The Qatar gateway says that the successful recertification is a reassurance that its carbon management processes and activities have effectively reduced CO2 emissions.
During the recertification process, operator, MATAR, was audited by independent third party verifiers from August to October 2022, and then further verified by the independent scheme administrator WSP.
Commenting on the achievement, MATAR’s senior vice president for facilities management, Michael Mcmillan, said: “We are very proud to maintain this significant accreditation at the optimisation level since 2017, acknowledging the efforts of the MATAR Teams and our stakeholders.
“Sustainability and environment stewardship are strategic pillars at Hamad International Airport as we continue our intension and ambition to demonstrate leadership within our industry and country – notably within our recent expansion project – where we achieved 4-Star rating under The Gulf Organization for Research & Development (GORD) for reducing carbon footprint.”
In collaboration with its stakeholders and partners, MATAR plays a vital role in monitoring, managing and reducing Hamad International Airport’s carbon emissions to fulfil the airport’s long-term environmental objectives of carbon emissions reduction by 30% by 2030 – driving for continuous environmental improvement and sustainability.
Giant step forward for Christchurch Airport’s renewable energy precinct
Christchurch Airport’s renewable energy precinct, Kōwhai Park, has taken a giant step closer to reality.
After a year-long process that attracted interest from organisations across the globe, the airport has chosen one of New Zealand’s largest energy companies, Contact Energy, and international solar developer, Lightsource bp, as its partners to deliver phase one of the park.
The first stage of the park will consist of a solar farm that will span around 300-hectares on land just behind the airport’s runways.
Kōwhai Park is expected to be the first of a number of planned solar farms for the Lightsource bp and Contact Energy partnership in New Zealand.
Christchurch Airport chief executive, Justin Watson, says the development marks a major milestone for Kōwhai Park, which is an important project for New Zealand.
He enthused: “Kōwhai Park will enable low emissions aviation and help provide the extra green energy New Zealand needs to transition away from fossil fuels. We’re excited to have found partners with the technical capability to do this well and the values to ensure it’s done right.
“Our goal is to ensure Kōwhai Park is ready to provide the large amount of green energy these new aircraft will need. This starts with the solar farm, but we’re working to include green hydrogen generation down the track.
“This is an exciting time for aviation – zero and low emission aircraft are not far away. Our job is to do all we can to ensure they can take off as soon as possible.”
With around 300,000 solar panels, Kōwhai Park’s solar farm will be among the largest in New Zealand and, if all goes to plan, in time, the park will be home to green hydrogen generation and able to meet the needs of high users of energy, like vertical farms and data centres.
The expected 150MW (or 170MWp) array will generate 290 GWh per year. This is equivalent to the annual demand of approximately 36,000 homes or approximately half of Christchurch’s domestic flights being converted to low-emission technologies.
It will have the same carbon benefit as planting around 1.25 million native trees and shrubs.
Renewable energy deal for Newcastle Airport
Newcastle Airport has signed a new energy purchase agreement with Flow Power, a leading Australian renewable energy retailer.
Under the agreement Flow Power will prepare an energy plan that will see the airport achieve its target of 100% renewable energy seven years ahead of schedule, significantly reducing its carbon footprint and supporting the airport’s sustainability efforts.
Newcastle Airport CEO, Dr Peter Cock, said the agreement is a major step forward in the airport’s sustainability journey and demonstrates a commitment to reducing its environmental footprint.
He said: “The airport is expanding to deliver growth to the Hunter region, and sustainability is key to everything we do. “We’re delighted to partner with Flow Power. By offsetting grid consumption with green generation certificates, they’ll help us significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and help us achieve our 100% renewable energy strategy well ahead of our 2030 target.”
Executive general manager of aviation, Shane de Wit said the engagement with Flow Power would help make Newcastle Airport a leader in making the transition to a low carbon economy.
“Flow Power’s flexibility and efforts have empowered the airport to become a leader in environmental sustainability, both in the aviation industry and in the Hunter Region.
“The new agreement provides us with the ability to develop local renewable energy and offset any remaining demand with green generation certificates from off-site renewable energy sources, including exploring future renewable wind projects when they become available.”
De Wit said Newcastle Airport has already implemented several key initiatives.
“In 2021, 99kWh solar was installed at the airport producing 3.9% of electricity and reducing our carbon footprint by more than 75 tonnes,” enthused De Wit.
“Our expanded terminal is being designed with a 5-Star Green Star rating, and our new Covered Car Park will feature 1,212 solar panels, powering more than 30% of the airport.
“Sustainability is also being incorporated into Astra Aerolab’s built environment – our first commercial office building has been designed with a successful 5-star Green Building rating assessment from Green Building Council Australia.
“We’re committed to improvement and will continue to explore opportunities to reduce our environmental impact and support the transition to a low-carbon future.”