Frankfurt Airport looks to geothermal and biogas to supply it with renewable energy heating and power
The geothermal field lies in the green area to the right of this aerial photo
Thu 29 Oct 2009 – Fraport, the owner and operator of Frankfurt Airport, has signed an agreement with a renewable energy joint venture to explore and develop the potential of the geothermal field that lies to the south of the airport. If the exploration proves successful, the partners will construct a hybrid power plant that will combine geothermal power and biogas to produce electricity and heat for the airport. Geologically, the Walldorf geothermal field is part of the Upper Rhine Valley, which in turn lies in the northern part of a continental rift system that runs through the length of central Europe. With its extremely high temperatures and heat flow density, it offers excellent conditions for electricity generation.
Fraport, which will hold 25% of the venture, is partnering with D&S Geo Innogy, itself a joint venture of RWE Innogy and Daldrup & Söhne that was established in January this year to plan, develop and construct geothermal power plants. D&S Geo Innogy is planning similar geothermal ventures in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
In the coming months, seismic studies will be conducted to reveal the geothermal potential. Assuming the preliminary test prove positive, boreholes will then be drilled to a depth of 2,400 metres. The plans call for the construction of at least one hybrid power plant to generate electricity and heat using geothermal energy in combination with biogas. The biogas will be produced by RWE at its plant in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, where biomass fuel is refined to natural gas before being supplied to Fraport via the gas distribution system.
“We are proud to supply Germany’s top international air transport hub with future renewable energy,” said Prof Fritz Vahrenholt, CEO of RWE Innogy. “Numerous tests will be required before we reach that stage. However, we are confident that we will be able to supply part of Frankfurt Airport’s heating requirements with geothermal heat, especially because of our new system concept. This will serve as a beacon project for Germany in the field of renewable energy and will attract a high degree of international recognition.”
Dr Stefan Schulte, Fraport Executive Board Chairman, described the agreement as a further milestone in the implementation of Fraport’s sustainability programme. “With this initiative, our efforts to achieve substantial CO2 reductions at Frankfurt Airport – for example through the technological and structural modernization of our terminal facilities and the use of electric vehicles on the apron – will be enhanced,” he said. “Therefore, we have a great ecological and economic interest in completing the upcoming tests swiftly and thoroughly, and, hopefully, with good results.”
The State of Hesse Environment Minister, Silke Lautenschläger, said Frankfurt Airport had great potential for developing flagship climate protection and renewable energy projects. “The planned geothermal/biogas project will help secure both jobs and Frankfurt as a business location. This demonstrates once again that ecology and the economy are not a contradiction.”
Fraport has a strategic goal of reducing CO2 emissions per passenger and per 100 kilogram of freight by 30% by 2020. It is a founding member of the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme launched this year and became the first airport in Europe to achieve its accreditation status last month. Fraport claims it is the world’s only airport operator to be listed on the Dow Jones STOXX Sustainability Index (DJSI STOXX), the DJSI World Index, the FTSE4Good Index, which measures the performance of companies that meet globally recognized corporate responsibility standards, and in the SAM Group’s Sustainability Yearbook 2009.