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Study to Decarbonise East Midlands Airport “Takes Off”

A decarbonisation study looking to gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities toward achieving zero carbon emissions at airports is now under way.

The East Midlands Airport Green Futures Study (EMAGFS) aims to support the development of a net-zero industrial cluster in the East Midlands, with a specific focus on the implications for energy infrastructure at East Midlands Airport (EMA).

EMAGFS is an exciting combination of initiatives, funded by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), being delivered by a partnership including the University of Nottingham, EMA, East Midlands Freeport, EPRI, LLEP, Midlands Connect, and Midlands Net Zero Hub.

Researchers from the university will spend the eight-month project collecting and analysing two types of data:

Technical: Energy is at the heart of the day-to-day operations of an airport – from transporting people and goods to the airport through to the running of aircraft and airside vehicles. By understanding both the amounts of energy used and how much of it is based on fossil fuels, the study will look to understand the magnitude of the challenge to switch from these existing CO2 emitting energy carriers to next generation alternatives in electrification and hydrogen.

Social: To understand the multi-stakeholder ecosystem at EMA and its impact on net-zero pathways, by employing a multi-faceted approach involving stakeholder events and focus groups, individual interviews on challenges and drivers, and follow-up interviews for mind mapping. The objective is to understand the social dynamics of the ecosystem, assess the effectiveness of interventions, and identify challenges and drivers of the EMA net-zero journey.

Dr Nahid Yazdani, Assistant Professor in International Business and Strategy at Nottingham University Business School said: “We are embarking on a transformative journey with the East Midlands Airport Green Futures Study, seeking to shape the future of the transportation sector in a greener, more sustainable direction.

“The success of the net-zero journey demands more than new technologies, and that’s understanding the stakeholders' perspectives within this ecosystem.  We're using methodologies like Fuzzy Cognitive Maps to connect and map stakeholders' knowledge with scientific insights, creating a comprehensive model of our complex social-ecological system which facilitates achieving our sustainability objectives." 

Focusing specifically on various aspects of transport – including flight, road and rail – in the vicinity of the airport, the study will analyse the energy infrastructure to identify opportunities to create green energy pathways that can be shared on a global scale with other airports.  

Professor David Grant, Director of the University of Nottingham Energy Institute, said: “As a society, we have been used to incremental adoption of technologies based on fossil fuels. Green technologies have been around for many years but the slow pace of adoption in the past has resulted in us now having to make bigger step changes in conversion, storage, and utilisation of energy if we are to meet net zero targets. Bigger changes lead to more uncertainty and challenges for industry and individuals alike on deciding when and what green technologies to adopt.

“Here, we have an exciting project trying to understand what the current energy ecosystems surrounding East Midlands Airport requirements are and to quantify the technical and social challenges in adopting hydrogen as an energy vector alongside electrification approaches.”

To find out more about this area of research, please click here.


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