Airport ground support equipment (GSE) such as baggage tugs, bag ramps and pushback vehicles represents a category of vehicles that’s ripe for electrification. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has taken a major step towards converting its GSE, a project that’s projected to save $2.8 million in fuel costs and 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
By September, Sea-Tac will install 576 charging locations, each of which will allow plug-in vehicles to receive a full charge in less than 4 hours. Smart technology determines which vehicle needs the most charge and meters out the power. The $31-million project is funded in large part through federal grants, including $5 million from the DOE and $3.5 million from the FAA. Part of the grant money will go to help airlines fund the purchase of new electric vehicles.
“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 US to provide charging stations at all gates,” said Courtney Gregoire, Co-President, Port of Seattle Commission. “As many as 650 vehicles could eventually be covered by electric technology and make a huge difference in the airport’s carbon footprint.”
Alaska Airlines has taken the lead, with 204 EVs in operation on the ground at Sea-Tac. Additional airlines are scheduled to join the program later this year.
“Switching from fossil fuels to electric-powered equipment not only benefits the environment by reducing carbon emissions and fuel use, but the transition is expected to save Alaska Air Group about $300,000 a year in fuel costs,” said Alaska Airlines VP Jeff Butler.
Sea-Tac also provides 48 public EV charging stations in the airport garage, which it claims is the most of any airport in North America.