Unlocking the power of your airport's energy infrastructure
UK airports are under enormous pressure to ensure they have the capacity to keep up with demand, which in turn affects the performance of their energy infrastructure.
As they expand to meet these pressures, airports around the country are greeted with an opportunity to reap the benefits of an energy transition where the energy market is decentralising and there is a sharper focus on sustainability.
In 2017, UK airports handled more than 285 million passenger journeys. That’s an increase of 15 million from 2016 and demand for air travel is set to increase 50 per cent by 2035. Based on government figures, if the number of journeys continue to increase at the current rate without expansion programmes, UK airports will reach capacity by the mid-2030s. European hubs are already charging ahead to react and provide an alternative to the UK’s long-haul hubs.
The impact of the required expansion will have significant implications for their energy infrastructure strategy and operation. As a provider of power distribution and energy infrastructure solutions for Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, London City and Luton airports, we understand the challenges UK airports are facing.
Our airports provide connectivity between the UK and the rest of the world – any impact to the seamless passenger journey has wide-reaching consequences. Ensuring a safe continuity of electricity supply is key to keeping passengers moving. Maintaining resilience, managing energy costs and reducing the carbon footprint is a delicate and complex balance that all airports are currently facing.
Resilience of supply
A one-second power interruption can affect an airport’s operations for hours, if not days. Just one consequence of this is that all the bags on the conveyers need to be rescanned and put through the system again, in addition to an ever-growing backlog of luggage being handled at the airport from departing and arriving passengers. This can mean passengers fly to locations all across the globe without their bags, causing severe reputational issues for the airport, the airline and handling partners.
To ensure maximum network reliability, the most important parts of the airport need to be supplied by the most resilient parts of the electricity network. Unfortunately, this is not always the case as airports have expanded quickly to meet expectations and demands of passengers. Expansion plans provide airport operators with the opportunity to assess and implement an electricity network that will be fit for purpose into the future.
Having an experienced strategic energy infrastructure partner enables airports to outsource the design, build, management, operation and maintenance of their electrical assets. This enables the airport to remove the risk associated with managing these assets themselves and to focus on their day-to-day core business and their customers.
Airports are under immense pressure to reduce their carbon emissions to offset those caused by the aircraft using the airports across the UK. All airports are committed to sustainability, with opportunities to achieve every-increasing targets through innovative new energy technologies.
The electrification of ground transportation around the airport is progressing with new vehicles and more efficient charging technologies becoming available. We have deployed electric vans at our Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City Airport depots. This will assist our airport clients reduce emissions across the airport, and we are working with them to help them electrify their own fleets.
Due to the large carbon footprint that airports occupy, there is opportunity to install renewable generation to reduce the costs of electricity. The introduction of technologies like wind turbines and solar photovoltaic, however, can be difficult due to the distance required for their installation from the main runways for safety. This forces innovative design and planning in order to best utilise the limited land available to help airports achieve their sustainability ambitions.
Operating high and low voltage electricity networks in the middle of Europe’s busiest runways takes invariable focus, continuous improvement and innovation, and always putting safety before anything else.
The safety of staff, contractors, suppliers and customers in and around the airport is the most important achievement every day. This can only be accomplished through an environment of ongoing, measurable safety enhancements, and a collaborative approach between all airport stakeholders.
We have achieved an exceptional industry-leading safety record while working not only on Europe’s busiest runways, but trackside on the UK’s fastest mainline railway, at nuclear sites and at military facilities. This is the direct result of the dedication of our people who ensure that safety is their top priority when they come to work each day.
We’re undertaking a very complex project at Manchester Airport that will enable them to continue their £1 billion transformation programme. Due to an electricity substation located in the middle of a taxiway, aircraft are only able to move one-in, one-out, which will affect the future expansion and capacity of the terminal.
Our team are moving the substation, which involves the construction of a brand new substation away from the taxiway, underground directional drilling beneath the taxiway and decommissioning the existing substation. This is all being completed in the middle of the very busy and operational taxiway, requiring the control of foreign object debris and the safety risks that come with working with electricity, construction and in an airside environment.