by Stephen Barrett
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) convened its first seminar focused entirely on Green Technologies at its headquarters in Montreal on September 9 and 10. The program occurred just days after the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued a report stating that carbon dioxide levels rose in 2013 at unprecedented rates.
The seminar ran a gamut of green technology issues in aviation, from those associated with aircraft (cleaner burning engines, alternative fuels, more efficient airspace procedures) to green buildings fueled by renewable energy and minimizing surface transportation effects. The team from Solar Impulse, the solar powered plane that flew across the US and Europe in 2013 and is now redesigning its aircraft for a round-the-world flight, participated in the seminar through two video presentations that provided inspiration to the participants as to what can be achieved. At an evening reception, Airbus made a formal release of its single passenger electric-powered plane which was previous unveiled at its headquarters over the summer. The two companies also discussed technologies that can be readily incorporated into existing planes to allow them to taxi on the ground entirely on electric power.
I was fortunate to be asked to make a presentation on the opportunities for airports to develop renewable energy to power on-site facilities. During my presentation, I reviewed a variety of technologies – including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydrokinetics, and fuel cells – and discussed the state of the technology, its markets and applications, and compatibility with airports including examples from around the world. ICAO would like to make this type of information more readily available to member states and there are plans to provide guidance on a variety of green technologies based on information that was presented at the seminar.
As Solar Impulse 2 prepares for its round-the-world flight in 2015, it is clear that there are challenges to the world’s aviation industries in a future of climate change, but that there are also opportunities to those who seize them.