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Finavia Pioneers Hydrogen-Powered Airport Equipment in Europe

Europe witnesses a significant breakthrough in sustainability as Finavia takes the lead. The airport operator is piloting hydrogen for heavy airport equipment at Helsinki Airport.

Hydrogen could soon power heavy equipment at Helsinki Airport
Hydrogen could soon power heavy equipment at Helsinki Airport. Source: Finavia

Mikko Viinikainen, Finavia’s Vice President of Sustainability and Environment, points to Hydrogen’s immense potential. It is an energy source for heavy airport machinery and possibly short flights soon. “We are excited to accelerate the opportunities presented by hydrogen in aviation,” Viinikainen says.

Towards a Sustainable Hydrogen Supply Chain

Importantly, the international hydrogen project seeks to cultivate a comprehensive hydrogen supply chain. This stretches from its production, fuelling airport tools and aircraft, to scrutinizing operations. The ambitious project received EUR 4 million in support from the EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme. The objective goes beyond equipment: it aspires to lay foundational work for the hydrogen-powered aircraft of tomorrow.

Finavia: Hydrogen Power Will Help Clear Winter Snow

Viinikainen explains, “Finavia leads hydrogen testing for the airport’s winter maintenance equipment in the project. We will replace the engine of the sweeper blower for snow removal with a piston engine that runs on green hydrogen and renewable diesel. Storing hydrogen and delivering it to the airport equipment will also give us valuable experience for the future of hydrogen-powered aircraft.”

At Helsinki Airport, the vision is expansive. Nearly 20 snow-clearing machines could potentially use hydrogen as their primary fuel. This move is especially significant for equipment that can’t be electrified due to substantial power requirements.

Moreover, the project will also focus on deciphering the prerequisites of the airport infrastructure to accommodate hydrogen-fueled aircraft.

Finavia’s airports know a thing or two about clearing snow. Source: Finavia

Marching Towards Fossil-Free Skies

Critically, a move of this magnitude holds promise for an era of fossil-free aviation in the Baltic Sea Region. The international collaboration will span three years. It features other notable airport operators from the Baltic Sea vicinity, like Swedavia, Riga Airport, Tallinn Airport, and more.

Viinikainen reiterates Finavia’s commitment, “Our target is to bring down carbon emissions from our activities to net zero by 2025. We’re optimistic that Helsinki Airport will achieve this milestone even earlier. As we progress, hydrogen-driven airport tools will provide us with more avenues to curtail carbon emissions.”

Set to kick off in November 2023, the HyAirport project is helmed by Hamburg Airport. It brings together airport operators, research institutions, manufacturers of airport tools, and the Finish government, uniting towards a greener future.

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