Planning for EV Charging Stations at Airports

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Planning for EV Charging Stations at Airports

As the world shifts towards electricity to mitigate environmental pollution in the transportation sector, airports are becoming focal points for this transition. The transportation industry, including various modes like cars, trucks, airplanes, and trains, contributed to 29% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 and 20% worldwide. The Rocky Mountain Institute highlights the urgency of reducing these emissions by at least 45% by 2030 to align with climate goals aimed at capping global warming at 1.5°C.

Efforts to green the transportation industry are picking up pace, with initiatives to introduce eco-friendly fuels in commercial flights. Although electrifying air travel is a future goal, the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) for ground transport is already underway. The U.S. sees over 4.2 million EVs in use, with predictions that EVs will represent 40-50% of all new car sales by 2030. Airports, which serve as major transportation nodes handling millions of vehicles annually, are in a prime position to support the EV movement. This guide outlines the essential steps for integrating EV charging infrastructure at airports, setting the stage for a more sustainable approach to accommodating ground transport vehicles.

Choosing an Electrification Specialist for Airports

Simplifying the process of electrifying airports for EV support begins with one crucial step: choosing the right EV charging expert. This expert will guide airport administrators and facility managers through the entire process of developing a robust electric vehicle charging network.

Conducting a Site Assessment for EV Charging

The next vital step in airport electrification involves a detailed site assessment with your selected EV charging consultant or electrical contractor. This evaluation aims to understand your specific needs and identify the most efficient and cost-effective strategy for installing EV charging stations.

Engineering and planning consultancy, Kimberly-Horn, suggests that airports should target several key areas for EV charging installation, including:

  • Rental car facilities
  • Employee parking zones
  • Cell phone waiting areas
  • Valet parking services
  • Rideshare and taxi designated areas
  • Shuttle bus parking and staging locations
  • Ground service fleet areas on the airside

Furthermore, they emphasize the importance of planning for both present and future requirements. It’s advisable to not only install the necessary charging stations now but also to prepare additional parking spaces for easy future expansions. This foresight involves making certain parking stalls “EV charger ready,” which means having them pre-wired and prepared for the eventual addition of more chargers.

During your site assessment, your EV consultant or electrician will evaluate your charging needs and formulate a strategic plan. They will also explore various cost-saving opportunities, such as installing chargers on existing structures, optimizing the proximity of chargers to power sources, and integrating smart technologies for energy management, including demand response and load management systems. This approach ensures an efficient, scalable EV charging infrastructure tailored to your airport’s specific demands.

Upgrading Electrical Systems for EV Charging

A thorough site evaluation will determine if your facility needs to enhance its electrical system to support electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Generally, each charging point needs its own circuit, but with smart load management, it’s possible to distribute power efficiently among multiple stations. This might mean your site could require a new electrical panel, meter, or even a transformer upgrade, particularly for Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs) which significantly increase power demand.

By consulting with your electrician early on, your team will be prepared for any necessary electrical upgrades and understand their impact on the total cost of introducing EV charging.

For complex sites like airports, which need a variety of charging options, considering a battery energy storage (BES) system could be advantageous for cost savings. These systems, essentially large batteries, store electricity to use when needed, allowing facilities to capitalize on lower electricity rates during off-peak hours or to harness renewable energy, such as solar power.

Securing Funds for Airport EV Charging Initiatives

Implementing EV charging facilities at airports is a major project with substantial costs. Fortunately, there’s a range of funding options available to mitigate these expenses.

There are several federal funding programs aimed at supporting EV charging station installation. For example, the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit offers a 30% tax credit on the installation costs of an EV charger, up to $100,000, in designated census tracts.

Airports have access to specialized funding through the Airport Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) and Infrastructure Pilot Program. This program permits the use of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds for the acquisition of electric vehicles (EVs) and the development or modification of related infrastructure.

Beyond federal initiatives, each state offers its own set of funding programs for EV charging station (EVSE) projects. Tools like the Blink Charging’s Commercial Incentives platform can help uncover these opportunities.

Launching Your EV Charging Station Installation

With your EV charging plan solidified and funding secured, you’re ready to move forward with the installation process. This involves more than just setting up the charging units; it often requires additional groundwork like constructing concrete bases, installing protective bollards around the chargers, and putting up clear signage and parking space markings.

It’s wise to use this opportunity to future-proof your site for additional EV charging capabilities as demand continues to rise. Incorporating “EV Ready” elements now—such as laying down all necessary electrical groundwork up to a junction box—means you can lock in today’s prices for materials and labor, potentially saving on costs as these are likely to increase over time.

Conclusion

Airports are pivotal in adopting EV charging, marking a significant stride towards sustainability in transportation. This shift not only aligns with global climate targets but also addresses the surge in EV usage. By integrating EV infrastructure, airports are setting the stage for a greener future, showcasing innovation and environmental stewardship in the transportation sector.

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