Spring 2023

Renewable diesel powers GSE at Schiphol

Renewable diesel powers GSE at Schiphol

All diesel-powered GSE and vehicles operating on the apron at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, one of Europe’s biggest and busiest air gateways, have switched to using using renewable fuel from Neste as part of the aviation industry’s move towards a greener future

January this year marked the last month in which standard diesel will be used on the ramp at Schiphol, confirms Jonathan Wood, vice president Europe, renewable aviation at Neste. And because Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a drop-in fuel, it can be used to replace fossil diesel fuel in existing engines and fuel infrastructure without modification. “No alterations to equipment were necessary,” he says, adding that the use of HVO100 will continue for any other diesel vehicles coming onto the ramp at the airport.

The company also supplies Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™, a more sustainable alternative to fossil jet fuel, into Schiphol.

With its own fuel station at the airport plus three fuel trucks operating seven days a week, KLM Equipment Services (KES) provides all fuel for all the vehicles and GSE at the gateway. Neste MY Renewable Diesel is supplied to KES via Neste’s distribution partner, EG Group.

Approximately 1,900 ground handling vehicles and GSE at Schiphol are currently powered by diesel engine, including cars, vans and trucks, as well as pushback tractors, conveyor belt loaders, pallet and container loaders, catering high lifts, aircraft fuel dispensers, passenger steps and ground power units (GPUs).

There is also a large – and growing – number of battery-powered electric equipment in operation at the airport.

Paul Feldbrugge, who is responsible for KES’s Zero Emission Programme, declares: “At the moment, 40% of the motorised equipment at the airport runs on electricity. And that number will increase over the coming years. However, for a number of specialist heavy vehicles, it is a technical challenge to develop a battery with sufficient capacity that can also be charged quickly enough. Using Neste MY Renewable Diesel is therefore a good solution currently.”

Rob Wemekamp, B2B (business-to-business) sales manager for EG Group, notes: “KLM Equipment Services is an existing customer of EG Group in the field of lubricants. Now this cooperation is further expanded with Neste MY Renewable Diesel.”

Denise Pronk, responsible for sustainability at Royal Schiphol Group, which operates Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, remarks: “This is a significant step on the way towards a zero-emission ground operation in 2030. The vehicles for which there are currently no electric or hydrogen alternatives available can run on renewable diesel. Everyone on airside, where the loads are moved to or from the aircraft, is making use of it, including Aviapartner, dnata, Menzies, Swissport, KLM Ground Services and Viggo.

“It’s also important that we all continue to expand the number of electric vehicles at Schiphol. We are also going to considerably expand the number of charging stations.”

Neste is obviously delighted that it has attracted new business in the Dutch capital. “With KLM Equipment Services now starting to use our Neste MY Renewable Diesel for all diesel-powered ground handling vehicles and machinery at the airport, our contribution to Schiphol’s sustainability targets significantly increases,” says Peter Zonneveld, vice president sales renewable road transportation at the Espoo, Finland-headquartered oil refining and producing company.

“With Neste MY Renewable Diesel, the greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by as much as 75 to 95% when emissions over the fuel’s life cycle are compared with fossil diesel. Companies can reduce their climate emissions in an instant by just changing to Neste MY Renewable Diesel.”

That 75 to 95% reduction varies depending on the region-specific legislation that provides the methodology for the calculations and the raw material mix used to manufacture the product for each market.

“With our renewables production capacity increasing to 5.5 million tons by the end of 2023 and further to 6.8 million tons by the end of 2026, we are well equipped to help our customers around the world to make the switch to more sustainable solutions,” Zonneveld states.

Supporting the move to greener aviation

The transition to renewable diesel for GSE and ramp vehicles stemmed from a fuel tender issued by KES which EG Group, one of Neste’s distributors in the Netherlands, won based on the proposed use of MY Renewable Diesel.

In issuing that tender, KES was supporting Royal Schiphol Group’s ambitious sustainability agenda.

Schiphol is not the only location to be using Neste’s MY Renewable Diesel. It is also used at Helsinki Airport, where Neste is one of the fuel suppliers and where tanker trucks use the company’s renewable diesel for operations.

Meanwhile Finavia, Finland’s national airport operator, has been using Neste MY Renewable Diesel at Rovaniemi, Kuusamo, Ivalo and Kittilä airports in Finland since 2018.

Of course, it may well be that renewable diesel/HVO100 from other producers is used at different airports, Wood points out, and he is confident that renewable fuels will become ever more commonly used at air gateways. “Renewable diesel is a direct and more sustainable replacement for fossil diesel and can be used without modifications so it provides a great opportunity for airports to decarbonise their operations,” he says.

“As the Schiphol and Finavia examples show, it can be part of a broader package of measures to reduce the emissions from airport activities. We certainly would advocate for airports to investigate this quick and easy option to progress their decarbonisation plans.”

For Neste, such requirements are most likely to be seen and potentially fulfilled in geographical markets where Neste already has an existing supply system in place, including the US, Europe and several countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Of course, as we have seen, using renewable diesel for ground transport vehicles and GSE is only one aspect of Neste’s wider effort to support the aviation industry, another being its supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). As Wood points out, “Renewable fuels offer an available solution for industries which are harder to decarbonise. One of these is the aviation industry, which has set itself an ambitious goal to reach net zero carbon emission by 2050.”

He continues: “Within the aviation ecosystem there are a lot of opportunities to reduce the dependence on fossil energy. Whether it is using solar panels or renewable fuels, we see more and more airports accelerating their efforts to reduce the emissions from their operations. Renewable diesel is part of the solution.”