London City Airport check in with smart and sustainable microgrid

26 June 2019

UK Power Networks Services and London City Airport are to install renewable and sustainable energy technologies to ensure the long-term resilience and operational excellence of the airport. 

London City AirportLondon City Airport is undergoing a £500 million development programme that will transform the airport and the customer experience, accommodating for a huge increase in demand to use London’s most central airport. The investment includes a new passenger terminal extension - creating facilities four times the size of today’s terminal - eight aircraft stands and a parallel taxiway. The airport is also introducing a digital air traffic control tower in early 2020, which will be a global first for an airport of this size.

A priority for London City Airport is to deliver this growth sustainably, and to date it has achieved a 28% reduction in its carbon emissions per passenger since 2013, holding the Level 3 Airport Carbon Accreditation, with the target to become carbon neutral by 2020.

London City Airport’s long-term energy infrastructure partner, UK Power Networks Services, finances, owns, operates and maintains the airport’s existing electricity network. As part of the City Airport Development Programme (CADP), UK Power Networks Services will deliver a microgrid that combines solar Photo Voltaic, combined heat and power, and smart automation software to double the size of the airport’s electrical distribution infrastructure. 

The upgrade will almost double the airport’s electricity capacity (from 3.6MVA to 7MVA) by installing new electrical substations and solar panels and connecting a combined heat and power unit. The electricity network will also be ‘smart’ thanks in part to a new SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system that will remotely control the electricity network. The fully integrated solution will enhance the security and resilience of the network, reduce the cost of infrastructure and improve air quality around the airport - while decarbonising in line with London City Airport’s commitments.

UK Power Networks Services is also supporting the joint development of London City Airport’s wider energy strategy, aligning the benefits of new technologies and innovations to future needs, such as electric vehicle infrastructure. Nearly 70% of passengers use public transport to get to the airport, which is the highest proportion of any UK airport, and it actively encourages people to travel sustainably to and from the site. 

Peter Adams, chief development officer of London City Airport, said: “UK Power Networks Services has a long-standing working partnership with London City Airport and the next chapter of this collaboration will embrace the latest low carbon technology to deliver growth more sustainably. Their continued support, well into the future for both the ongoing investment programme and the wider energy strategy, as well as the continued management of the electricity distribution network, will ensure we are best placed to maximize our commitment to sustainability and the environment.”

Ian Smyth, director of UK Power Networks Services, said: “We are excited to deliver this turnkey solution for our valued client. We are designing, building, operating, maintaining and financing this innovative solution. Our ability to bring these technologies together delivers triple bottom line benefits for the airport – lower cost, greater resilience and help towards the UK’s decarbonisation agenda.

“Microgrids are the holy grail of new sustainable renewable energy networks. Finding ways to make microgrids economically viable and self-funding has challenged global energy markets for decades.

“We’re proud to be a long-term partner with such an ambitious airport as London City that is committed to transforming the passenger experience, bringing innovation and long-term sustainability. We will continue to work together to identify innovative ways of addressing the airport’s energy requirements.”

Picture: Tony Blackwell, design and interface manager, UK Power Networks Services & John Higgins, director of transformation and development, London City Airport