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Sea-Tac Airport launches major ground support equipment electrification project

The Port of Seattle, along with Alaska Airlines, Western Washington Clean Cities and US Representative Adam Smith unveiled a new project providing nearly 600 electric charging stations throughout the airport for ground support equipment (GSE) such as baggage tugs, bag ramps and pushback vehicles. Converting the GSE from fossil fuel to electric, each year the project is projected to save $2.8 million in airline fuel costs and 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of taking 1,900 cars off the road.

The port has installed bright yellow charging corrals with smart, fast-charging plug-ins for vehicles to receive a full charge in less than 4 hours. The smart technology determines which vehicle needs the most charge and meters out the power. This first phase provides 296 charging locations throughout concourse D, C, and the north satellite. The second phase will cover the rest of the terminal at concourse A, B, and the south satellite for a total of 576 charging locations by September.

This project provides the infrastructure for airlines to convert their vehicles from diesel to electric in Sea-Tac’s effort to become the first major airport in the U.S. to provide charging stations at all gates. As many as 650 vehicles could eventually be covered by electric technology and make a huge difference in the airport’s carbon footprint.

—Courtney Gregoire, Co-President, Port of Seattle Commission

Alaska Airlines has taken the lead in this green opportunity with 204 electric vehicles (146 with Alaska, 58 with Horizon) in operation on the ground at Sea-Tac. The environmental benefits are substantial. Alaska’s conversion to electric vehicles is the equivalent of taking 360 passenger vehicles off the road for a year, or a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 1,000 tons a year.

The $31-million project is funded in large part through federal grants. The US Department of Energy provided $5 million through a grant with the Western Washington Clean Cities Coalition. An additional $3.5 million came from a Federal Aviation Administration grant. Part of the grant money is being used to help airlines fund the purchase of new electric vehicles. Additional airlines are scheduled to join the program later this year.


Thomas Pedersen

Not a bad idea, seeing as these are highly specialized vehicles that

1) do not have very high up-front cost of converting huge production lines as they are small-series anyway

2) never make it more than a few hundred feet from a fast charging outlet

Now we just need the APUs to go electric/fuel cells too and there should be a potentially significant improvement in air quality around airports.

Next challenge is taxiing around the airport, and the final challenge is take-off.

Actually, the final challenge is flight...

Enter the VoltAir!

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