The OLGA partners met in Milan for the first Steering Committee meeting to exchange on the project's overall progress. Nine months into the project, OLGA's pledge to reduce the environmental impact seems more important than ever, given the EU's plan for a green transition which sets ambitious climate goals for 2030 and 2050.
The first OLGA Steering Committee meeting took place on 12 and 13 July 2022 in Milan and was hosted by SEA Milan Airports. It was more than a simple gathering since all partners were able to meet each other face to face for the first time now that the COVID restrictions are lifted. On this occasion, partners provided updates on the 40 tasks (10 work packages) included in the project. Virginie Pasquier, OLGA project coordinator from Groupe ADP, gave an overview of the OLGA's main achievements so far, such as the feasibility study of 100% biodiesel and multi-energy station, the finalisation of the specifications for the terminal lightning, the production of simulations for the solar photovoltaic boarding bridge and other activities performed in the project.
BiodiversIT: a tool for biodiversity management and improvement
Progress has been made on several tools under development in the OLGA project, and one of them is BiodiversIT. This is an innovative system for monitoring and assessing biodiversity to manage it in airport operations better and support local biodiversity improvement. BiodiversIT creates a dynamic database of fauna and flora, which will increase understanding of the biodiversity present on the airport platforms and put into practice methods for biodiversity observation and evaluation. Thanks to its AI algorithm for fauna/flora recognition, BiodiversIT helps to decide the maintenance actions of undesirable weeds and participates in the trajectory towards the 0 phytosanitary. It is a decision-making tool for environmentally responsible management of green spaces, leading to long-term control of biodiversity, optimisation of maintenance actions and aeronautical safety.
Hydrogen and its potential benefits for communities
The event also included a high-level discussion on hydrogen and future vision between the OLGA partners and the CEO of SEA Milan Airports, the Environment and Climate Change Councilor of Lombardy Region, RINA, SNAM, Toyota, Airbus. Some of the OLGA activities focus on hydrogen and can bring major benefits to communities surrounding airports.
As Yannael Billard, OLGA project sponsor from Groupe ADP, explains: "H2 is indeed an energy vector with an important potential to contribute to the environmental transition of activities at and around airports. Mobile use cases at ground level are most likely to occur first – for instance, taxis, buses, shuttles, trucks and more specific equipment operating at airports. These use cases actually imply the use of H2 in fuel cells. These vehicles and equipment then run on electricity produced by the fuel cells. Decarbonisation is one of the major benefits, as well as co-benefits in terms of air quality and noise, as there is no combustion during use".
Armando Brunini, CEO of SEA Milan Airports, highlights that "OLGA represents a great opportunity for a sustainable future. The two-day OLGA Steering Committee meeting hosted in Malpensa gave all the actors involved the opportunity to take stock of the work in progress, including all the levers of sustainability in the aviation sector. There is a lot of work to be performed if we want to be ready within 2035 hydrogen objectives, and OLGA deeply supports this target".
OLGA project was put in place to support the EU Green Deal and to foster smart and sustainable airports. The project delivers innovative actions on topics such as energy, alternative fuels, mobility, and air quality, which provide measures for reaching climate neutrality by 2050 and also supports the EU's climate ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 as per the "Fit for 55 package". Nine months after the project's launch, the world is confronted with skyrocketing energy prices. COVID is still around, and there is war on the European continent – now more than ever, we see the need for environmental transition and the added value of the OLGA project.