All Finland's airports to be carbon neutral this year as Finavia brings forward climate programme goal
Renewable diesel distribution point at Helsinki Airport (photo: Finavia)
Mon 8 Apr 2019 – Finnish airport operator Finavia now expects all of its airports to be carbon neutral in 2019, one year earlier than previously planned. Helsinki Airport was certified as carbon neutral in 2017 under the industry’s four-stage Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme and airports in Lapland are set to be similarly certified shortly. Carbon neutrality requires offsetting of CO2 emissions an airport cannot manage operationally and emissions at other Finavia airports that have not yet been certified at the highest ACA level will still be offset. A second installation of solar panels is currently being fitted to the roof of the airport terminal and is increasing installation in other areas of the airport to be newly built.
“It is important for air traffic operators to develop their operations to reduce emissions. We want to set an example and be a leader in our field,” said Henri Hansson, Technical Director at Finavia, explaining why the operator was bringing forward its carbon neutrality programme.
“Our entire electricity consumption last year consisted of certified wind power acquired from the Nordic electricity markets. Ten Finavia airports use pellets for carbon-neutral heating. We also employ solutions such as geothermal heating and energy-efficient LED lights.”
The production of renewable energy was one of the most important factors in Helsinki Airport achieving its certified carbon neutral status, said Finavia. The first solar panels were installed on the terminal roof in 2017, producing 126 kWp of power and the second installation is expected to produce 330 kWp. The next phase will see solar panels installed on the wall of the airport’s new parking complex in 2020 and the power generated will be targeted at charging electric cars, said Hansson. When all sections are finally in use, total solar power production will be approximately 750 kWp to become of the top 10 largest solar plants in Finland and the largest of any Nordic airport. Around 1% of all electricity used at the airport will then be powered by solar.
Direct carbon emissions of Finavia’s operations mainly arise from the fuel consumption of its own vehicles. “At Helsinki and at our airports in Lapland, we have begun using renewable diesel fuel produced from waste and residues,” said Hansson.
Neste’s MY Renewable Diesel product has been in use at Helsinki for over a year, for example in apron buses, and during the period was expected to have resulted in GHG emissions savings of 610 tonnes. The Finnish fuel producer said diesel engines can switch to using its fuels without requiring any modifications and can withstand temperatures as low as -34 degrees C.
“Using Neste’s renewable diesel as our vehicle fuel is a key part of our climate programme,” said Mikko Viinikainen, VP Sustainability & Environment at Finavia, which will use the fuel in its vehicles at Rovaniemi, Kuusamo, Ivalo and Kittilä. “It is excellently suited to our purposes as it helps reduce our GHG emissions by as much as 90% compared to the emissions from conventional fossil diesel.”
To achieve carbon neutrality, Finavia buys offsets from the international carbon markets through its partner NEFCO, a financial institution established by the Nordic countries to provide financing for environmental and climate projects.
“The emissions offsets are acquired from a Gold Standard certified project that improves the energy efficiency of small households in Ghana through the use of efficient stoves that reduce the cutting down of local forests to obtain firewood,” said Hansson.
Finavia said its climate programme objectives have also played a part in the construction of new facilities. Current expansion at Helsinki and new premises are being developed in line with criteria laid out in the BREEAM environmental certification framework, and the south wing, which opened in 2017, has already been certified with an ‘Excellent’ rating.
Looking further ahead, the operator said managing aviation emissions was “absolutely essential” for the industry to continue providing air travel. “Finavia wants Finns to be able fly even a hundred years from now,” said Hansson.
Following the example of Norwegian airport operator Avinor (see article), Hansson said Finavia would be financing the purchase and test of Finland’s first fully electric aircraft. “We believe that electric aircraft will be a realistic option for short-haul flights within a couple of decades,” he said.