At the R&D&I workshop on “Climate-friendly energy supply for aircraft while on the ground” (“Klimafreundliche Energieversorgung von Flugzeugen am Boden”), key stakeholders highlighted the urgent need for further development. The initial results of a market study were presented.

Research and development potential for climate-friendly airport operations – this was the topic of discussion for around 30 experts from aviation, science and politics at NOW GmbH on 2 February 2024. The initial focus was on the climate-friendly energy supply of aircraft while on the ground. This is because aircraft also need electricity while they are being serviced, loaded and refuelled on the ground. Today, this electricity still primarily comes from auxiliary power units in the aircraft or is generated from diesel using external power generators. With direct electricity, batteries or hydrogen, aircraft can be supplied with electricity more efficiently, emission-free and significantly more quietly than before.

During the workshop, the participants identified the potential need for research, development and innovation in order to achieve the goal of a more climate-friendly energy supply for aircraft. Representatives from airport operators, energy suppliers and battery and fuel cell manufacturers not only shared their practical experience and initial successes in operation on the tarmac, but also spoke about the challenges that still exist.

Market study provides a concentrated overview of existing solutions

The initial results of a study conducted by the Dornier Group on behalf of NOW GmbH provided further impetus for the ongoing development of ground power units. The market study will provide an overview of existing, climate-friendly systems, highlight the requirements of airports and show additional potential for defossilisation. Publication of the study is currently scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.

Kurt-Christoph von Knobelsdorff, CEO and Spokesperson of NOW GmbH: “In order to make air traffic in Germany more climate-friendly overall, pollutant emissions at German airports must also be reduced. Ground power systems with batteries and hydrogen fuel cells have great potential for achieving this. Battery-electric systems are today already technologically ready for use, and we are currently seeing prototypes of fuel cell systems being tested in practice. At NOW, we will translate the insights that the experts have given us today into their requirements and wishes for such climate-friendly solutions into practical recommendations for policymakers.”

Further call for funding for R&D projects planned

The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV – Bundesministerium für Digitales und Verkehr) launched an initial call for funding in summer 2023 based on the “Environmentally friendly ground power supply for aircraft at airports” (“Umweltfreundliche Bodenstromversorgung von Flugzeugen an Flughäfen”) funding guideline. The funding support scheme, which is open to all technologies, grants investment subsidies for the procurement of mobile and stationary, environmentally friendly ground power systems to supply aircraft as well as the necessary charging and refuelling infrastructure. The workshop will now focus on the second strand of the funding guideline, which is aimed at R&D&I projects.

As a provider of scientific and technical services, NOW GmbH coordinates the ground power guideline, supports its implementation with its technical expertise and also collects data with regard to the framework of the funding measure. Applications are granted by the Federal Agency for Administrative Services (Bundesanstalt für Verwaltungsdienstleistungen).


About NOW

NOW GmbH has been supporting the German government in its climate and industrial policy goals since 2008. The tasks of the federally owned company include developing, monitoring and evaluating funding programmes to promote climate-neutral mobility and energy supply. The team of experts at NOW GmbH supervises projects in the fields of hydrogen, fuel cells, batteries and renewable fuels; rethinking mobility and fuels for cars, buses, trains, commercial vehicles, ships and aircraft – whilst supporting the establishment and further development of charging infrastructure and hydrogen refuelling stations for cars and trucks. More information on NOW is available here.