After electric vehicles, Genève Aéroport is looking at hydrogen


Genève Aéroport is planning an extensive adoption of electric vehicles to minimise the carbon footprint of its airport activities. At the same time, the airport wants to adopt hydrogen engines for runway vehicles. 

At the most recent general meeting of Airports Council International (ACI), Genève Aéroport committed to reach the goal of zero net CO2 emissions by 2050. To achieve this objective, a number of projects are underway, such as renouncing the use of fossil fuels to heat and cool buildings by 2025, making its infrastructure energy and climate efficient and improving mobility on the runway. With regards to the latter, Genève Aéroport has already implemented a series of measures. Two new electric buses will join the current fleet of eight by the end of the year.

« Our goal is to make half of our buses 100% electric by 2021 », explained Stéphane Delage, Director of mechanical services.

In 2018, 28% of vehicles and engines on the runway were electric or hybrid. The goal for 2020 is 40%. What’s more, 210 charging stations were installed on the runway between 2015 and 2019. Forty more are planned by the end of 2020.

Finally, all airport partners are encouraged to play a role in this commitment. Henceforth, runway authorisation requested by our partners for vehicles powered by heat engines, where an electric version at an equivalent price exists, will no longer be granted.

And then hydrogen?

« We are looking at how we can leave fossil fuels in our vehicles behind once and for all. A number of very specific vehicles operate on the runway, like the powerful machinery required by the fire service. As it stands, no electric versions of these exist. We therefore need to think about alternatives, like renewable fuels and hydrogen », explained Sophie Meisser, Head of Environment.

Genève Aéroport is therefore considering purchasing hydrogen vehicles in the coming years.

« We are currently analysing the topic. We still have a number of questions regarding the supply of hydrogen, which we want to be local and long-lasting. In any case, we would like to buy our first vehicle at the end of 2020 to launch a test phase of at least 6 months », specified Stéphane Delage.

Very few hydrogen vehicles are operating in Switzerland, even though the technology is well established. In concrete terms, hydrogen enables engines to run without emitting CO2 through the use of fuel cells. The autonomy of a full cell is between 500 and 600 km, much longer than electric vehicles. Another advantage is supply, which can be completed in a few minutes, unlike charging electric vehicles which requires much more time.