UK’s East Midlands Airport sets wind power in motion to generate five per cent of its electricity needs
One of the new wind turbines at East Midlands Airport
Tue 10 May 2011 – East Midlands Airport (EMA) today unveils two wind turbines that are expected to produce 5 per cent of the airport’s electricity, enough to power 150 households, and produce a carbon saving of around 300 tonnes per year. EMA says it is the first UK airport to install turbines of this magnitude on an aerodrome and has been passed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Part of the Manchester Airports Group, the airport says the safety case will now be produced into an ‘off-the-shelf’ product for other airports and businesses, both in and out of the aviation industry. With a heavy reliance on air cargo operations, EMA has attracted opposition from local communities over noise intrusion from night flights but the airport has also managed to claim a number of environmental firsts in the past two years, following a commitment in 2006 to making its ground operations carbon neutral by 2012.
EMA partnered with Wind Direct and Wind Prospect, along with other companies from across Europe on the project, including Wind Technik Nord from Germany. The turbines measure 45 metres including the rotor blades, which have a radius of 15 metres, and can generate electricity from wind speeds as low as four metres per second.
Aviation authorities have expressed safety concerns over the siting of wind turbines, believing them capable of interference with ground radar. According to NATS, the UK’s air navigation service provider, wind farms can appear as clutter on air traffic radar displays, as well as degrade the performance of voice communications facilities and en-route navigation aids. In conjunction with the British Wind Energy Association and government departments including the Ministry of Defence, the UK CAA has published guidelines to assist those involved with the development of wind farms, particularly on their location.
“The turbines will be installed for 20 years and we see it as a significant investment for the airport and the environment,” commented EMA’s Director of Sustainability, Neil Robinson. “Working with experienced companies who have a deep understanding of wind turbines made the process a lot simpler and we are pleased that we can now use the knowledge that we have gained to help other businesses that are looking to create a sustainable future and help the environment.”
Other projects that EMA has initiated include a 26-hectare willow farm that will provide fuel for a biomass boiler in the terminal building, a trial of biodiesel in passenger transport vehicles and a low-carbon extension to the terminal building. The airport’s dedicated recycling zone has enabled a recycling rate of 88%, the highest of any UK airport, it claims.
The airport was the first in Europe to offer WebTrak, the online facility to view aircraft operations in the airport’s vicinity, and says it is the only UK airport to successfully retain its ISO 14001 environmental management systems certification since 2002.