CASCADE: reducing energy use by airports

  • CASCADE is a FP7 funded project aiming to reduce energy use by airports of 20% with Irish assistance with research and development.
  • HVAC systems consume 50% of all energy at airports.
  • Airports are massive energy consumers and with 500 in the 28 European member states we need to find a solution.

Airports are massive energy consumers; a large airports thermal consumption equals that of a small city.  By poor planning airports are one of the worst offenders when it comes to wasting energy.

CASCADE – ICT for Energy Efficient Airports – is a European Research project funded under FP7 (the predecessor to Horizon2020) with a 3 year goal to help airport managers reduce their energy needs and cut their CO2 emissions by 20%, caused primarily by their high-consuming heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) plants.

To do this CASCADE will develop a framework and methodology to underpin the execution of customised ICT solutions. They will also develop facility-specific measurement-based energy plan for airport energy managers underpinned by systematic Fault Detection Diagnosis (FDD) Methods.

There are nine CASCADE partners from across Europe. Two of those teams are from Galway, namely NUI Galway and software management company Enerit. The remaining teams come from Germany, Italy and Serbia. They were granted with €2.6 million in funding from the European Commissions 7th Framework Programme to develop a new software and sensor system to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs by 20% in airports.

Airport managers are under considerable pressure to complete their 20-20-20 goals and so have welcomed the CASCADE project. Italy has already adopted the programme with Pilot testing taking place in Rome’s Fiumicino and Milan’s Malpensa, Italy’s two biggest airports. The CASCADE system will save these Italian airports 6000MWh a year. (This equates to 42,000 tons of Co2 and €840,000).

450 airports world wide have committed to this project through the Airports Council International Europe – greatly increasing the use of this system by 2015.

The Consortium is developing a solution that supports energy teams at airports to identify automatic faults and suboptimal operation in their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The ISO 50001 based Energy Action Plan will automatically trigger corrective actions.

Engineers using this new measurement framework can control and benchmark equipment performance and optimize user behaviour.

After the initial six months of the pilot phase, the CASCADE system has already detected some control and sensor faults in large air conditioning units in Fiumicion.

“Our objective is to save 20 % energy on these targeted systems by optimizing savings and with the knowledge we gain we want to then replicate the solution at other airports.” said CASCADE coordinator Nicolas Réhault, head of group building performance optimization at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany.

There are many other benefits to the CASCADE system as Nicolas went on to explain ‘Airports are very complex infrastructures. We have gained a lot of know-how on how these infrastructures work. This can be replicated to other highly complex buildings such as hospitals and banks. And it could be downscaled to simpler things, too.’


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