Sustainability is becoming mainstream, according to Vestergaard
Lars Barsoe, Vice President Sales and Marketing at Vestergaard Company A/S, gave his insight into sustainability on the airside in Issue 2.
Lars Barsoe. CREDIT: VESTERGAARD COMPANY
At Vestergaard Company, we believe that aviation is one of the sectors that struggles to find a path to sustainability. Transporting 2-300 passengers at a time over thousands of kilometres from city-to-city releases thousands of tonnes of CO2 from fossil fuels. Getting the passengers and their luggage to and from the aircraft, servicing the aircraft, and getting it ready to fly also involves lots of machinery that emit CO2.
Lots of R&D go into developing Sustainable Aircraft Fuel and in the not-so-distant future, it is expected that Power-to-X will be able to supply a type of e-kerosene to power the aircraft in a sustainable way.
On the ground there are now already solutions available for sustainable operation. Electric loaders and baggage tractors have been around for a while, and now also electric pushback and tow trucks are gaining traction, as well as electric water and lavatory service trucks. In 2021 the first electric deicers were taken into service, and this type of equipment is also seeing more and more interest.
Some studies show that about 16% of the total environmental footprint of aviation is on the ground, so if we want to make inroads this is a place to start. Many authorities have seen this and are putting regulations into place to speed up the process. Exchanging a fleet of combustion powered equipment with electric is expensive and the airports are slow in getting sufficient charging infrastructure in place, however, the gains from the change are so huge that the return on investment is much faster for most than anticipated.
Pushback and tow tractors from Kalmar Motor can save operators 50-70% in energy costs while not emitting any CO2, small particle pollution, or noise on the apron. When used as single-man pushback or tow, there is a huge potential for man-power savings as well. And this in a time where most companies struggle in finding sufficient qualified personnel. The electric Kalmar towbarless and conventional tractors have been on the market for over 10 years and our customers appreciate the quality and can attest to the reduced maintenance load.
Vestergaard Company has developed our own electric chassis for airport usage, as we were not able to find a cost-effective electric commercial chassis. The chassis comes in several versions and with various battery solutions. We have for the past few years delivered a large number of toilet and water service vehicles fully electric, and we are now delivering full electric de-icers on our own chassis as well. Up until now we have only supplied the smaller open-basket de-icers in full electric versions, but we will complete our range of full electric versions to all of our de-icers in the next two years.
In the meantime, we have developed and supplied a large number of hybrid electric Elephant BETA deicers. The e-BETA as it is known comes with a battery which allows full electric operation including manoeuvring around aircraft. The units have their original Volvo diesel engine which can be used for long-distance driving and in emergency circumstances also for charging the battery with the onboard generator.