by Steve Barrett
The AAAE Energy Forum convened last week in sunny West Palm Beach, Florida. The Forum was last held in Seattle in February of 2010 and several of the participants from that event, including me, worked on the organizing committee for this year’s forum. The group expects the program to become an annual event with February in Florida acting as a great draw.
Besides the inviting weather, energy is a topic of great interest in the aviation community given escalating costs and innovative solutions. The conference attracted 80 professionals with diverse expertise including airport staff, solar energy developers, energy and environmental consultants, airport planners, architects, engineers, utilities, and financial institutions. Airports represented included Palm Beach, Orlando, Lee County, Metro Washington Airport Authority (MWAA), Minneapolis-St. Paul, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Dallas-Fort Worth, Jackson Hole, Toronto, and Cold Lake Alberta.
I moderated the first two panels covering renewable energy topics. I also made two separate presentations: “Technical Guidance for Evaluating Selected Solar Technologies at Airport [aka The Solar Guide]” and “Can Wind Energy and Aviation Be Compatible?” Other renewable energy topics covered in presentations included solar development by airports and private lease holders, geothermal, and fuel cells. There was a significant amount of programming on energy efficiency measures including the diversity of equipment replacement actions that can be taken, from light bulbs to heating and cooling systems, and quick payback periods. An FAA representative summarized funding possibilities under the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Program and action by Congress just two weeks ago under the FAA Reauthorization allowing Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to be used for energy efficiency-related upgrades. The second day’s lunch speaker from “Space Florida” spoke about NASA’s plans for supporting a growing commercial spaceflight business including issuing contracts to private companies to ferry payload and passengers to the International Space Station over the next few years.
As energy issues continue to impact all aspects of commerce and quality of life, the AAAE Energy Forum is expected to become the aviation industry’s prime conference for discussing energy challenges and opportunities. The committee has already started planning for next year’s event.
Presentations are posted on HMMH’s website.