ICAO “solar-at-gate” pilot project for the reduction of CO2 emissions of aircraft during ground operations launched in Kenya

A first of its kind pilot project in Africa consisting of a ground-mounted 500kW solar power generation facility and mobile airport gate electric equipment was launched last week at Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Kenya.

By providing pre-conditioned air and compatible electricity that runs on solar energy to aircraft during ground operations, this new solar-at-gate project will eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft parked at the gate, which currently use their auxiliary power unit (APU) powered by jet fuel or airport ground power units (GPU) fuelled by diesel to run onboard systems before departing for their next flight.

The solar facility will generate 820,000 kWh per year and will avoid emitting at least 1,300 tonnes of CO₂ every year, while the airport gate equipment will serve more than 2,500 flights per year, demonstrating a concrete solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions.

“It is not only a transformative development in the aviation sector of Kenya – and of the continent – but it is also an inspiring model of how such change can best be accomplished”, said Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). “I hope that this ‘Solar-at-Gate’ project will serve as an inspiration and that we will see its replication in many other States in support of a low emissions air transport.”

The inauguration ceremony was attended by more than 150 representatives from ICAO Member States, including officials from the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authorities, airport authorities, and relevant stakeholders, ICAO Council Members and representatives of international organizations.

The President of the ICAO Council, Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu (centre right), officially inaugurates Moi Interational Airport’s “Solar at Gate” project in the presence of (from left to right) ICAO’s Deputy Director for Environmental Protection, Ms. Jane Hupe; the Representative of Kenya on the ICAO Council, Ms. Mercy Awori; the Director General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Gilbert Kibe; and the Kenya Airports Authority’s Managing Director, Mr. Jonny Andersen.

This pilot project is part of a €6.5 million initiative, entitled “Capacity Building for CO2 Mitigation from International Aviation”, implemented by ICAO and funded by the European Union, which targets 14 States – 12 from the African region and two from the Caribbean region – to address carbon emissions in the aviation sector.

“I would like to acknowledge the financial, technical and strategic support of ICAO and the European Union” noted Capt. Gilbert Kibe, Director General of Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). “Through this initiative, we were able to develop Kenya’s Action Plan to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Aviation and identify the use of solar energy at airports as a measure to contribute to global efforts to minimize aviation’s carbon footprint.”

Mr. Jonny Andersen, Managing Director of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) expressed his excitement “to be the premier Airports Authority in the region to have the Solar PV system installed. The expected savings on electricity, as well as the reduction in carbon emissions, will contribute towards the efficient operations of Moi International Airport.”