Research Projects

Catalyzing Carbon Revenue for Airports

To develop carbon offset methodologies for both commercial and general aviation airports that generate revenue.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Under the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), airlines will begin to purchase carbon offsets on a global scale starting in 2021. This program will create a demand for new projects that reduce carbon emissions. Even without national climate laws, individual U.S. States, cities and businesses are pursuing greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) measures which are generating a supply of carbon offsets for the market. While airports are implementing GHG reduction efforts as described in the recently published ACRP Synthesis 100, the resulting carbon offset supply is small. The consequence is that carbon offsets required for CORSIA will be supplied by non-aviation sector projects and aviation will miss a significant revenue opportunity associated with in-sector carbon offset projects. This project would advance in-sector carbon offset options for U.S. airports of all sizes to directly reduce aircraft emissions.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

To establish at least two new revenue opportunities for airports to generate funding from carbon reduction. At least one of the approaches will be tailored to commercial airports and one will be designed for general aviation airports.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

There are multiple airport-based projects that could reduce aircraft fuel use to meet airport and airline carbon emission reduction goals. Installing solar photovoltaic facilities to power aircraft gate needs including on-board electronics and pre-conditioned air for contemporary jet-fuel powered aircraft, and battery charging the new, small electric aircraft are both promising potential options. The research team needs to prove the following to make certified offsets:

  1. Additionality – carbon reduction would not be economical without the additional funding generated by the offset.
  2. Feasibility – planning, procuring and installation must be technically viable in an airport context.
  3. Demand – carbon offsets generated require an established market with buyers "willing to pay" for the product.

Here are steps to identify and establish carbon offsets for airports to develop.

Step 1 – State of the industry. Evaluate literature and generate case examples. For example, Norman Manley International Airport in Jamaica has installed solar for gate power. For aircraft electric charging, there are airport initiatives in Fresno California and Centennial Colorado. Here are the Step 1 components:

A. Identify current or potential carbon solutions based on offset requirements of additionality and permanence.
B. Evaluate the full range of other potential aircraft fuel savings along with carbon offsets for airport use.
C. Select the two most promising offset candidates based on a matrix comparison of options.


Step 2 – Policy analysis. Analyze Federal, state and potentially international (e.g., CORSIA) regulations and voluntary carbon markets to determine how these aviation "in-sector" projects could integrate with these systems.

Step 3 – Site assessments. Partner directly with airports to determine the policy, finance, acquisitions and site compatibility and operational aspects for commercial and general aviation airports. Write up detailed implementation requirements for two carbon reduction project options.

Step 4 – Draft methodologies. Based on insights gathered from steps 1 and 2, create detailed, formalized carbon reduction methodologies that could be submitted with recognized registries (e.g., Gold Standard, Verra and ACR). It is noted that ICAO designation of authorized programs is still pending.

Step 5 – Implementation guidance. Detail airport requirements to develop revenue-generating offset projects.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

Cost: $480K
Components: Literature review, case interviews, policy analysis report, site visits and carbon summits at multiple airports, assessment of relevant technologies and/or technology integration, two detailed carbon offset methodologies registered under for a commercial and a general aviation airport, and implementation guidance.
Duration: 14 months including two months for review.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.
  1. ICAO CORSIA Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) - Annex 16 Volume IV
  2. ACRP Report 158: Deriving Benefits from Alternative Aircraft-Taxi Systems, 2016
  3. ACRP 03-51 Electric Aircraft on the Horizon - An Airport Planning Perspective (Current project)
  4. United Nations Clean Development Mechanism small-scale methodology solar power for domestic aircraft at-gate operations, 2016.
  5. ICAO-UNDP-Global Environment Facility Transforming Global Aviation Project, Solar at gate pilot project, Jamaica.
  6. Verra's VM0038 Methodology for Electric Vehicle Charging Systems, v1.0
  7. K. Yin, 2017 "A study of carbon dioxide emissions reduction opportunities for airlines on Australian international routes"


18 votes
18 up votes
0 down votes
Idea No. 315