Moi airport's solar system seeks to reduce plane emissions

Friday December 14 2018

Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

The entrance to Moi International Airport in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

PHILIP MUYANGA
By PHILIP MUYANGA
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Moi International Airport became the first airport in East Africa to install a solar system to power machines meant for reduction of carbon emissions by planes during take-off.

The solar system will help reduce carbon emissions through providing pre-conditioned (bringing outside air to the plane) and compatible electricity through machines that run on solar energy to a plane during ground operations.

At the moment, planes use machines (auxiliary power units) powered by jet fuel or ground power units (GPU) fuelled by diesel to run on-board systems and cooling before taking off.

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) council President Dr Bernard Aliu said the project will help reduce carbon emissions in a big way.

Dr Aliu said the project is as a result of partnership between ICAO and the European Union that financed the project.

Kenya Airports Authority managing director Mr Jonny Anderson termed the project as an incentive for the organisation to adopt a new strategy of green energy at the airport.

“Our target will be among other targets, operating on zero-carbon emissions by 2021,” said Mr Anderson.

Mr Anderson said the plan dubbed MIA 2021 will include increase of solar capacity and usage, reduced energy use through use of natural light and ventilation and recycling of water.

Others, he said, would include water harvesting and having airport vehicles powered by alternative green energy.

Zero emissions

Mr Anderson said that KAA is in the process of registering the airport in the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.

“The ultimate goal is to achieve carbon neutrality where the airports net carbon dioxide emissions over an entire year is zero,” said Mr Anderson.

He added that the aim of the project was to spur interest among other ICAO’s member states as a successful example on how to tackle the impacts of aviation on the environment which may be replicated at a larger scale.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Director General Captain Gilbert Kibe said the launch of the project marks another success in their collaboration with the ICAO.

Capt Kibe said the airport project will serve more than 2,500 flights per year which is a clear demonstration of a solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions and contribute towards making the airport a green airport.

He further said that the project, rides on the country’s action plan on reduction of carbon dioxide gas emissions from both domestic and international operations.

According to ICAO, the initiatives to reduce carbon emission in the aviation sector targeting 14 states,12 from Africa and two from the Caribbean region.