The world is turning to electricity to help clean up the transportation sector, and that includes airports and airline travel. Including cars, trucks, commercial aircraft, and railroads, transportation was responsible for 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2021 and 20% of emissions globally. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, “the US transportation sector must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% by 2030 to achieve a 1.5°C climate-aligned future.”
There is a concerted effort to make transportation more environmentally friendly, including using more environmentally sustainable fuel in commercial airliners. While electric air travel will take time, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty electric vehicles for ground transportation are becoming mainstream. Currently, there are over 4.2 million EVs on the road in the United States and they are projected to make up 40-50% of new vehicle sales by 2030. This provides airports with an ideal opportunity to help facilitate the transition to EVs. Being transportation hubs that have to accommodate millions of vehicles throughout the year, airports are optimal places for electrification. Here’s what you need to know about planning, or “roadmapping,” an EV supply equipment installation at your airport.
Select an electrification expert
Electrifying an airport to accommodate EVs need not be complicated. The first step to build out comprehensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure is to select an EV charging expert that can walk airport administrators and facility managers through the process.
The second step is to conduct a site assessment with your EV expert and/or electrical contractor to determine your needs and the best course of action to take while keeping costs as low as possible.
Engineering, planning and design consultants Kimberly-Horn recommend airports consider installing EV charging in areas such as:
- Rental car lots
- Employee parking areas
- Cell phone waiting lots
- Valet parking areas
- Rideshare and taxi lots
- Shuttle bus parking and dwelling areas
- Airside for ground service fleets
They also point out that airport authorities should not only think about current EV needs, but also future expansions. This is why it’s smart to install the chargers you currently require, but also make parking stalls “EV charger ready” so future installations are pre-wired and ready for chargers when you need them.
As part of your site assessment, your EV expert or electrician will assess your EV charging needs and help you determine a plan. They will also look for ways to help you cut costs, like mounting chargers on pillars or other existing infrastructure, placing chargers as close as possible to a power source, or using smart features like demand response and load management to save energy.
Electrical infrastructure upgrades
Your site assessment will also reveal whether your location requires any electrical infrastructure upgrades. Typically, an EV charging station will require a dedicated circuit for every plug (though load management features may allow you to share power). That means that installing charging stations may require the installation of a new electrical panel, meter or even a transformer. Especially in the case of Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs), a large increase in energy consumption can lead to a new transformer.
Thanks to your conversations with your electrician, your team will know ahead of time if your location requires upgrades and how much they will affect the overall cost of electrification.
For locations as complex as airports, where multiple types of chargers will likely be needed, a battery energy storage (BES) system may also be beneficial for cost cutting. These units are composed of giant batteries that can store power and releasing it as necessary, allowing airports to take advantage of off-peak electrical rates or utilize renewable energy sources like solar panels.
Electrifying an airport for EV charging is a large undertaking and it comes with significant costs. However, there are funding options available to help alleviate these costs.
There are numerous federal funding programs for EVSE, including the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit for 30% of the cost of an EV charger up to $100,000 when the chargers are installed in eligible census tracts.
Specific to airports is the Airport Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) and Infrastructure Pilot Program, which allows airports in the US to use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to purchase EVs and to construct or modify infrastructure needed to use EVs.
Along with federal funding programs, each state has its own funding programs for EVSE, which you can explore with Blink Charging’s Commercial Incentives tool.
After your EVSE plan is in place and your funding is procured, your EVSE installation can begin. Along with the charging stations themselves, there may be other necessary site work such as concrete bases for chargers, bollards for protecting chargers, signage, or striping.
While doing trenching or other site work for the current installation, it’s also prudent to prepare your site for future EVSE upgrades when demand for EV charging inevitably grows. By adding “EV Ready” infrastructure, which includes all electrical infrastructure and ends in a junction box, you can take advantage of this year’s materials and labor costs before they increase in the future.
While you can use your preferred installer, Blink Charging also works with certified EVSE installers across the country. Need a recommendation? Ask your Blink sales manager for a referral to one of our partners.
Which EV chargers should an airport install?
Unlike many other commercial properties airports can benefit from providing all three levels of EV charging.
In long-stay or valet parking where vehicles would be expected to be parked for over an hour, Level 2 chargers, like the Blink Series 8 Level 2 EV Charging Station, are best. This station offers 50-80amp of electricity to vehicles and offers payment by credit card. Parking facility managers can charge drivers for energy consumed or the amount of time that the vehicle is plugged in. (While some EV drivers may plug their portable Level 1 charging cable into a 110V wall outlet, we recommend that parking facilities proactively install commercial charging stations so you can bill drivers for energy.)
In parking facilities where vehicles will spend only a short amount of time, such as taxi queues, cell phone waiting lots, and shuttle bus service areas, we recommend DCFCs like the Blink 60kW-360kW DC Fast Charging Station. Depending on the vehicle and amperage, DCFC can charge a battery in less than an hour, so any place where a vehicle will only be sitting for a short period of time would benefit from this level of charging. You can also collect a premium fee from drivers for using these types of chargers.
As for EV fleet vehicles, we recommend a combination of Level 2 chargers and DCFC to ensure they are always ready to go. For airport shuttles, buses, and other vehicles that park when your airport is closed, you can schedule charging at an 80amp Series 7 charging station to fully charge the vehicles overnight and take advantage of off-peak utility rates. DC fast chargers, which are more expensive to install and operate, are best used for a 30-45 quick charge in the middle of the day.
Airports have many options when it comes to an EV charging company. A leader in EV charging technology, Blink offers a comprehensive solution for airports which includes the integrated Blink Network and Fleet Management Portal.
Through the Blink Network, your parking managers can set pricing for public charging based on time of day, season, and member group. For example, you can offer free or discounted rates for employees or taxi partners. All publicly available chargers will also be added to the Blink Mobile App and popular EV charger locator services.
Through the Blink Fleet Management Portal, available to fleet managers with Blink Series X stations through the Blink Network, you can schedule charging, receive notifications on early/late plug-ins, and even download a report that shows your entire organization’s EV station usage.
As Blink’s President and CEO Brendan Jones said recently when summarizing his remarks at the U.S. Travel Association’s Future of Travel Mobility conference, “through collaboration with other companies, we can establish a new paradigm for sustainable travel worldwide.” Electrifying an airport for EV charging is a big undertaking, but Blink is here to help. Ready to get started? Contact Blink Charging today to speak with an EV charging expert.