Bernie Baldwin

The vanguard of the ‘Smart Airports’ project is developing solutions to eliminate carbon emissions.

By 2050, the aviation industry’s goal is to completely eliminate carbon emissions from aircraft and airports. There are many barriers still to overcome for the transition to be complete.

To aid the process, the European Commission has allocated funds from its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for a ‘Smart Airports’ project and has chosen Copenhagen Airport (CPH) as a so-called ‘lighthouse’ airport to head a European consortium. The purpose is to demonstrate how future airport infrastructure should be designed to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions.

Copenhagen Airport CEO Thomas Woldbye is delighted his airport will be the focal point for the venture. “We aim to develop specific solutions and create a comprehensive concept for designing the airport of the future. We must be able to provide an infrastructure, which may be electric or powered by hydrogen or other sustainable fuels,” he states. “We will also investigate how we can integrate electrification and solar panels into airport design, so that we can power buildings, vehicles and aircraft and eventually completely phase out carbon emissions.”

The project, known as ALIGHT, aims to develop solutions to two overall challenges. The first covers the process and logistics of handling sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in an operational context, including procurement, blending, fuelling, quality controls and safety processes. The second issue concerns the development of smart energy solutions for other airport operations, including own production of sustainable energy as well as energy storage and electrification.

Currently, the main barrier is very few airports are prepared for the new fuels, because their infrastructure is designed exclusively for the fuels used today.

ALIGHT will run for four years from its start-up date of 1 November 2020.