ICAO launches two African airport solar-at-gate projects to reduce aircraft ground emissions
ICAO Council President Dr Aliu inaugurates the solar-at-gate facility in Mombasa, Kenya (photo: ICAO)
Fri 25 Jan 2019 – ICAO has launched airport solar-at-gate pilot projects in Cameroon and Kenya to help reduce carbon emissions produced by aircraft during ground operations. Last month, a ground-mounted 500 kW solar power generation facility and mobile airport gate electric equipment was opened at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport. The solar facility is expected to generate 820,000 kWh per year and avoid at least 1,300 tonnes of CO2 annually, while the airport gate equipment will service more than 2,500 flights per year. A new ground-mounted 1.2 MW solar installation at Douala International Airport has also just become operational and is expected to eliminate at least 2,575 tonnes of CO2 from over 5,100 flights annually. Funding support for the projects has come from the European Union.
Aircraft at the two airports currently use jet fuel based auxiliary power units (APUs) or diesel-driven ground power units (GPUs) to provide pre-conditioned air and electricity to aircraft during ground operations.
The pilot projects are part of the €6.5 million ($7.4m) ‘Capacity Building for CO2 Mitigation from International Aviation’ programme implemented by ICAO and funded by the EU, which targets 14 countries – 12 from Africa and two from the Caribbean region – to address carbon emissions from the aviation sector. The first solar-at-gate pilot project was launched in Jamaica in April last year (see article).
Speaking at the inauguration of the Mombasa facility, ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu commented: “It is not only a transformative development in the aviation sector of Kenya – and of the continent – but it is also an inspiring model of how such change can be accomplished. I hope this solar-at-gate project will serve as an inspiration and that we will see its replication in many other States in support of low emissions air transport.”
The ceremony was attended by more than 150 representatives from ICAO Member States, including officials from the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authorities, airport authorities, ICAO Council members and representatives of international organisations.
“I would like to acknowledge the financial, technical and strategic support of ICAO and the European Union,” said Capt Gilbert Kibe, Director General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. “Through this initiative, we were able to develop Kenya’s Action Plan to reduce aviation CO2 emissions and identify the use of solar energy at airports as a measure to contribute to global efforts to minimise aviation’s carbon footprint.”
The Cameroon government has funded the purchase of airport gate electric equipment to be connected to the newly installed solar park at Douala International. “The solar facility advances the country’s modernisation of its energy sector by using renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment,” said Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe, Minister of Transport. “The government is determined to continue the implementation of tangible actions for a more sustainable aviation [sector].”
Also taking part in the inauguration ceremony in Douala, ICAO Deputy Director Environment Jane Hupe said: “Sustainable development and climate change continue to be critical issues for the international community, and this latest commitment by Cameroon is a great example of the concrete actions that can be implemented as part of a broader air transport environmental strategy.”
Added Steven Rault, Chief of Programmes at the EU Delegation in Cameroon: “The construction of the solar photovoltaic system shows the results achieved by the ICAO-EU partnership on the environment, in which the authorities of Cameroon have been actively participating. By funding such initiatives, the EU wants to contribute to the sustainable development of international aviation.”
In related ICAO news from the region, Uganda has become the 78th State to volunteer to participate from the beginning of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) in 2021. Uganda has received joint training with Kenya under ICAO’s ACT-CORSIA Buddy Partnership initiative that helps developing countries prepare for implementing the scheme. Cameroon and Kenya have already agreed to join the initial pilot phase of CORSIA.