“Hydrogen is a potential energy source for the airport’s heavy equipment, as well as for short flights in the future. We are excited to accelerate the opportunities presented by hydrogen in aviation,” says Mikko Viinikainen, Finavia’s Vice President, Sustainability & Environment.
The goal of the international hydrogen project is to develop the hydrogen supply chain from production to the fuelling of airport equipment and aircraft and to testing operations.
“In the project, Finavia leads hydrogen testing for the airport’s winter maintenance equipment. 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.”
Finavia has about 20 snow removal machines at Helsinki Airport alone that could, in the future, use hydrogen fuel for motive power. The project will bring gaseous hydrogen to the airport to act as an energy source for maintenance equipment that cannot be electrified due to their huge power demand.
“In addition to looking at heavy airport equipment, we will, as part of the project, examine what hydrogen-powered aircraft and their fuelling would require from the airport infrastructure.”
An important step towards fossil-free aviation
For the hydrogen project, the EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme has granted EUR 4 million in funding to the airport consortium, which includes Finavia and the project partners. International cooperation is set to last for three years, which is an important step towards fossil-free aviation in the Baltic Sea Region.
“Finavia’s goal is to reduce the carbon emissions from its own operations to net zero by 2025. This level will be reached at Helsinki Airport by as early as next year. In the future, hydrogen-powered airport equipment will offer additional solutions for eliminating carbon emissions,” Mikko Viinikainen says.
The HyAirport project, led by Hamburg Airport, will be launched in November 2023. In addition to Finavia, several airport operators around the Baltic Sea – such as Swedavia, Lithuanian airports, Riga Airport and Tallinn Airport – are involved. In Finland, research institutes and universities as well as manufacturers of airport equipment and authorities are also participating in the project.