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ELECTRIC VEHICLES


major airports. Andrew Chen is Emissions Strategy Manager at London Heathrow Airport - the UK hub that has just been given the long-awaited Government green light to build a third runway but still faces major opposition from environmental groups and will have its emissions monitored extremely closely. He says that airport vehicles and airport-related traffi c on the transportation network make up a relatively small proportion of the airport’s overall carbon contribution. “The elephant in the room for us is aircraft as it is for every airport,” he adds. But the local air quality picture is very diff erent. He says that NO2 levels are being exceeded largely by diesel emissions from vehicles on the roads around the airport. Although he says that Heathrow’s airside vehicles contribute relatively little to the air quality issues to the north of the M4 motorway where the emissions are highest, there needs to be incentives to attract more green vehicles to the airport in the fi rst place.


This means there is now a major focus on electric vehicles. “There has been an investment case for greener vehicle charging, we have had trials and a green vehicle partnership,” he says. “This


has provided an incentive for spending money to switch vehicles over and to meet some of our targets.” One of these is that all the airport-owned or operated cars will be electric by 2020 and the airport will spend £2 million by the end of this year on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. A study has been made of airside vehicles which provides the airport management with accurate telematics data of where those vehicles spend the most dwell time in order to provide potential infrastructure charging hotspots.


“We


have a burning issue to provide electricity charging infrastructure to provide power for those vehicles which need it now,” Chen says. For example, there are currently 21 electric vehicle charging points for passengers in the airport car parks but more are needed.


So what are the main obstacles these airports face when they look to replace their airside vehicle fl eets with greener models or look to attract more third party green vehicles to the airport’s location? How can they persuade carriers that it is a commercially good idea?


Sara Lindenfeld is sustainability analyst with JetBlue Airways, which is based in New York. The carrier has an electric GSE vehicle programme which is now fully operational. But it fi rst started to use electric vehicles 10 years ago when it invested in some electric GSE equipment. She says not a lot of thought went into how they would be used which meant that the vehicles were not working a lot of the time because they hadn’t been charged. The batteries were not being maintained properly which was also causing problems and in general “the technology just was not as good as it is now,” she says.


She says there can be a perception that electric GSE equipment can be unreliable or “just doesn’t work” particularly at airports that have very cold winters. But this is not the case. “I was told that electric GSE might be fi ne for Florida but it was no good in New York or New Jersey because when it snowed the vehicles would just stop.”


32 / AF / Nov/Dec 2016 airportfocusinternational.com


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