With the new large photovoltaic park, with a capacity of 16 MWp, expected to be completed within 2022, Athens Airport enters the final stretch to achieve the goal of zero carbon footprint in 2025.
Athens International Airport, which from 2005 to 2021 has reduced its footprint by more than 40%, despite the severe impact of the pandemic, which brought a huge reduction in passenger traffic and led to the postponement of most investments, remained true to the vision to become the greenest airport in Europe.
As part of the ambitious “Route 2025” initiative, it aims to generate clean energy inside the airport through photovoltaics for own-consumption, in order to fully meet its electricity needs, which corresponds to about 90% of the company’s current carbon footprint. The 2025 milestone is much shorter than the 2050 target announced by European airports in June 2019.
The tender for the first phase of the project that concerns the design, construction, operation and maintenance of a photovoltaic park, with a capacity of 16 MWp, is in the phase of evaluation of bids. The project is expected to be completed in 2022 and put into operation in 2023. It is recalled that the “green light” was given by the Energy Regulatory Authority (RAE) last May. Already, in the area of the airport, a photovoltaic installation of 8 MWp has been operating since 2011, an investment of then 20 million euros.
It is noted that “Eleftherios Venizelos” is the only Carbon Neutral airport in Greece, ie it records a neutral carbon balance, having received the relevant certification of the Airport Carbon Accreditation program of the International Airports Council of Europe (ACI-Europe) since 2016.
Full on electric drive
Of course, in order for Net Zero to succeed, as it promised in 2019, the AIA is also… plugging in. The corporate fleet began its journey towards electric propulsion by withdrawing some petrol and diesel vehicles and replacing them with plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles. At the same time, the required charging infrastructure is being installed.
At the end of 2021, the largest hub of charging points in Greece was created and the first at an airport in collaboration with PPC Blue. The project includes the creation of a total of 14 charging points at Athens International Airport, combining a variety of AC chargers and DC quick chargers that charge up to 120 kW, and can meet many different needs of electric vehicles at the same point. In particular, in the Short-term parking space 1 are installed: 5 dual power chargers 2 x 22 kW AC, a high power charger High Power DC 120 kW (or 2 x 60 kW DC) and a speed charger 50 kW DC and 22 kW AC.
The sustainable sign of the airport is growing
Sustainability has been at the heart of the Athens International Airport’s strategy for years. The airport measures and publicizes its non-financial performance and impact since 2003, according to international standards (GRI) and receives assurance from an independent body. Amid the adverse conditions of the pandemic, it remained committed to the principles of the United Nations and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this direction, AIA participates and has a leading role in many initiatives, such as: Destination 2050, ACI EUROPE’s Airports Sustainability Roadmaps repository, STARGATE (SusTainable AiRports, the Green heArT of Europe), UN Global Compact SDG Ambition Program, Sustainable Market Initiative Council Greece part of HRH Prince Charles global Sustainable Markets Initiative.
By 2021, the airport’s sustainable sign has been enhanced by a range of actions across all axes, from human rights, values and ethics to service quality and passenger experience. The new i-mind platform for ongoing service evaluation by airport staff and the Virtual Airport Tour for virtual tours that bring back the airport experience in the midst of a pandemic are typical examples.
Recognizing also the social responsibility of each company and organization, AIA participates and supports the flagship initiative “Power of a Flower”. The contribution of the airport is twofold, as it offered space for the operation of the branch of the Social Cooperative Enterprise, which employs people with disabilities and offers freshly cut Greek flowers and plants. In addition, it has granted land for the cultivation of plants and flowers with sustainable, organic methods, in a move that is an international model of environmentally beneficial use of free space.
At the same time, it ensures that everyone, without exception, enjoys the trip, offering terrestrial assistance for people with disabilities without any financial burden. This includes the air travel simulation program for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), for whom air travel is a distinct “event” in many ways, as it is a change in their routine, it involves movement, the environment of the airport is stressful, as is the narrow and cramped space of the aircraft. Through the systematic education and familiarization program, with the procedures that precede an air travel, children become familiar with air travel and are desensitized. In fact, children, parents and therapists end up in a real aircraft.
The educational program “Autism Boarding Pass” was created by the Onassis Foundation, in collaboration with the Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”, where the final phase of desensitization of children takes place, is under the scientific auspices of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens – under the supervision of Professor of the University of Athens Angeliki Gena- and has the support of AEGEAN.