Green mobility: trial project with electric cars at Brussels Airport

May 30, 2012

Today saw the start of a green mobility trial project at Brussels Airport. In collaboration with the specialist technology companies Bluecorner and ThePlugInCompany two charging stations will be put at the disposal of airport visitors. The charging stations are located on the departures curb, in front of the entrance to the Sheraton hotel. Visitors who wish to charge their battery can do so free of charge and will be assisted by the hotel staff.

Many companies in Belgium are still hesitant to purchase electric vehicles due to the lack of public charging stations in the country. On the other hand, few charging stations are installed because there aren’t enough electric vehicles about. Installing a charging station at the airport is not only useful from a practical point of view it also holds important symbolic value. In doing so, Brussels Airport helps to break the chicken and the egg deadlock.

This initiative fits in with the project ‘Experimental Garden for Electric Mobility’, launched by Flemish Minister for Innovation Ingrid Lieten, which encourages the exchange of experience and the collaboration between parties with regard to green mobility. “Since September last year over 50 companies and knowledge centres are participating in this Experimental Garden. Due to this collaboration a total of 600 electric vehicles will be put into service.  These can be plugged into one of the 600 new charging stations”, says Minister Ingrid Lieten.

“I wish to support our companies so they can compete with the top in the world. Changing to e-mobility on a large scale helps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to postpone the depletion of the oil reserves. Figures show that all of us together use a total of over 10 billion litres of petrol and diesel for transport. The adoption of e-mobility also fits in with the greening of our energy policy”, Minister Ingrid Lieten goes on.

Founded on the same considerations, Brussels Airport is launching a trial project with an electric car, in collaboration with Opel Belgium. Over a period of six months The Brussels Airport Company will be gathering experience on the possibilities of this new technology for its own fleet of company cars and service vehicles. The company has been making use for quite some time of electric vehicles for special operational tasks including forklift trucks, electric tow tractors and a sweeping machine. Other airport users too are increasingly using electric vehicles at Brussels Airport. Electric vehicles are also tested as an alternative to the traditional service vehicles. Today The Brussels Airport Company has over 325 company and service vehicles: if 10% of these were to be replaced by electric vehicles, the company could save up to tens of thousands of euros in fuel and achieve a carbon reduction of about 160 tonnes per annum.

“Of course this trial project aims to be more than a free service for users of electric and hybrid cars”, Arnaud Feist, CEO of The Brussels Airport Company. “In the first place we wish to acquire both technological and economical experience. We are testing the various aspects of installing and using charging stations to provide our passengers with electricity for their car. Before checking in, passengers can leave their car at one of our car parks to find their car fully charged on their return. Smart Grid applications will help us to deal rationally with our own electricity consumption by allowing us to charge parked electric vehicles outside of peak electricity hours”.

The airport feels very strongly about the use of green energy and the reduction of carbon emissions. For several years now, Brussels Airport uses 100% green electricity. The end of 2011 saw the opening of a first solar park at the airport. A second solar park is to be opened by the end of this year. These parks will supply 3% of the annual energy consumption at the airport. Brussels Airport was the first airport in the world to obtain the ISO 50001 energy management certificate. Brussels Airport is also making significant efforts to reduce its carbon emissions.  The airport aims for a 20% reduction in eight years’ time. For Brussels Airport, the green mobility project is a logical step in this process, which will help the company to make the right decisions with regard to e-mobility. Moreover, it will help reduce carbon emissions.

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