Electric mobility where it’s best

iStock_000007213559Small A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the issues revolving around the construction of the new airport in Berlin. While airplanes there are not taking off at the moment, they do elsewhere in the country. For example at Frankfurt Airport where 113 international destinations can be reached making it the number one international airport in Germany. But even better still, Frankfurt airport won this year’s GreenTec Award in the category “Aviation”[1]. Let’s take a closer look to find out why.

Electric ants

First of all, what are the GreenTec Awards? Held annually, they’re the most prestigious European awards ceremony honouring achievements in environmental protection and green technology development. Flying is not known to be particularly considerate with the environment. So there’s lots of room for improvement! Airplanes have become more fuel efficient in the recent past but it’s not only planes that contribute to high-pollution levels. Actually, by far, most fuel burned at an airport never even sees a plane: it’s the machines and vehicles that operate in the background. Without the ground support equipment no suitcase would make it to the conveyor belt, no passenger would get to the plane and no plane would have a full tank before departure. This is where Frankfurt Airport has found its niche: electric airport support vehicles. The idea of using electric support vehicles is promising because airport vehicles have to cover short distances, which electric engines are particularly good at. Gasonline engines, on the other hand, hate stop-and-go. Under the project name E-Port AN[2], Frankfurt Airport is trying out ground support equipment that is electrically-driven. Currently, multiple tugs and tractors, as well as solar passenger stair cars are electric and in service. The problem: whereas electric cars can be charged when they’re standing around in the parking lot, airport vehicles are needed day and night. The solution: replacement batteries. While one battery is used, the other one is charged.

Flughafeninfrastruktur

Imitation welcomed!

Does all this really make a difference for the environment? Yes, absolutely. 90% of CO2 emissions at Frankfurt Airport are produced by ground support equipment. The ongoing test phase will save up to 60,000 litres of kerosene per year – and again that’s only the results from the test phase. In the near future, more and more vehicles will be replaced by electric ones. The German government named the E-Port AN a flagship project in electric mobility. So, if more heavy weight airports like Frankfurt go electric, airports will become less noisy and less polluted. Overall, they can show everyone how well electric mobility works.

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