Sustainable aviation: Utopia or the future?

Perhaps you heard the news that Greenpeace will be demonstrating at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol this weekend. Aviation allows you to see the world, but it also has an impact on humankind and the environment. In light of this, Greenpeace has asked Schiphol to come up with a climate plan. And we have a climate plan. For years now, we have been working on increasing the sustainability of aviation to make the world a cleaner place and to allow you to continue flying. It may be ambitious, but we are convinced that we can achieve the international climate goals.

No emissions on the ground

How will we do that? For example, by using electric vehicles at Schiphol and in its vicinity, such as the buses. The electricity we use is 100% Dutch wind power. We also use solar panels, are disconnecting from the gas network and use geothermal energy. Geothermal energy? Many of our airport piers and part of the terminal and offices use a heat and cold storage system, which is a sustainable way of storing energy as heat or cold underground. Using this for heating and cooling the terminal reduces the amount of gas needed.

No emissions in the air

You might not be too impressed by these efforts on the ground. We realise that more is needed than a CO2-neutral terminal and ground operations. The aviation sector is making every effort to enable sustainable flying. This would involve more energy-efficient and cleaner aircraft, electrically powered flight and the use of sustainable fuels. We are encouraging airlines to pursue these goals with financial incentives, something we will be expanding in coming years. In 2021, the cleanest aircraft will only pay 45% of the basic rate for landing at Schiphol, while the ones causing the most pollution will pay 180%. In order to increase production, SkyNRG is collaborating closely with KLM in constructing a special refinery for sustainable aircraft fuel in Delfzijl. Starting in 2022, the plant will be producing 100,000 tonnes of sustainable fuel every year.

No waste

Another thing Schiphol would like to do away with is waste. If you do not want to have any waste, you need to really embrace recycling and reuse. Whenever construction takes place, we put a great deal of thought into devising how energy can be conserved, and where recycled or sustainable materials can be used. When the temporary departure hall was being constructed, for instance, plans were already developed for its dismantling and reuse. Currently, a cargo warehouse is being dismantled, to be reconstructed elsewhere in the vicinity – it's like Meccano for experts!

Utopia or future?

All in all, we are headed for a clean future. While this might not be tomorrow, we are convinced that we are taking the right steps, headed towards sustainable aviation.