Research Projects

Catalyzing airport-based carbon solutions

Airport can support carbon reduction projects that support either aircraft fuel burn reduction or site-related emissions. This revenue could generate funding for airports and shift resources that are going to non-aviation carbon options.

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

Despite COVID-19 impacts, U.S. airlines publicly released in March 2021 a net-zero emissions goal for 2050. Even without national climate laws, individual U.S. States, cities and businesses are pursuing greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) measures. While airports are implementing GHG reduction efforts as described in ACRP Synthesis 100, the resulting carbon offset supply is modest. Under current market conditions, carbon offsets required to reach net-zero goals will be generated primarily by non-aviation sector projects and aviation will miss advance airport-based carbon reduction. This research project will facilitate 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 provide offset development options for both commercial and general aviation airports that generate revenue.

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

There are multiple potential airport-based activities that could generate carbon credits. Here are steps to identify and profile new carbon projects 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 carbon solutions based on offset requirements of additionality and permanence.

B. Evaluate current and emerging airport-related carbon credits demand in an airport environment from regional partners such as municipalities, and from businesses and individual travelers.

C. Evaluate the full range of other potential aircraft fuel savings along with carbon offsets for airport use.

D. 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. Evaluate Airport Carbon Accreditation carbon offset requirements to ensure alignment with that system. Step 2 analysis includes potential new direct FAA consultation related to revenue diversion considerations.

Step 3 – Leverage existing carbon methodologies. Three aircraft-based carbon offset methodologies will be assessed for their potential to be more broadly deployed in the United States (i.e., Gate-solar power, Electric taxi, and engine washing). Additional airport operation carbon credits will be assessed to create a comprehensive listing of scalable solutions (e.g., Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) certificates, EV charging, refrigerant management, and on-site biomass). Note: Net-zero requires carbon removal so some options may not support airport "Net Zero" goals.

Step 4 – 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 5 – Draft methodologies. Based on insights gathered from previous steps, create detailed, formalized carbon reduction methodologies that could be submitted with recognized registries (e.g., Gold Standard, Verra and ACR).

Step 6 – 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. ACRP Report 11: Guidebook on Preparing Airport Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories

2. ICAO CORSIA Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) - Annex 16 Volume IV

3. ACRP Report 158: Deriving Benefits from Alternative Aircraft-Taxi Systems, 2016

4. ACRP 03-51 Electric Aircraft on the Horizon - An Airport Planning Perspective (Current project)

5. ACRP Synthesis 100: Airport Greenhouse Gas Reduction Efforts

6. United Nations Clean Development Mechanism small-scale methodology solar power for domestic aircraft at-gate operations, 2016.

7. ICAO-UNDP-Global Environment Facility Transforming Global Aviation Project, Solar at gate pilot project, Jamaica.

8. Verra's VM0038 Methodology for Electric Vehicle Charging Systems, v1.0

9. K. Yin, 2017 "A study of carbon dioxide emissions reduction opportunities for airlines on Australian international routes"



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Idea No. 728