Changi Airport tests renewable diesel for airside vehicles

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is working with airport stakeholders to trial the use of renewable diesel for heavy and specialised airside vehicles operating at Singapore Changi Airport.
The trials will involve key stakeholders operating specialised vehicles and GSE at Changi Airport, including Changi Airport Group, dnata, SATS and SIA Engineering Company, which will work together as a community and exchange learning points. 

The trials are being funded by the CAAS under the Aviation Sustainability Programme and are expected to last a year.

If successful, renewable diesel fuel could be a suitable alternative to powering airside vehicles instead of conventional diesel with up to  95% lower lifecycle carbon emissions and to electric where there are limited viable options.

Renewable diesel can be used as a “drop in” replacement in existing diesel engines without modification, and tap the existing transportation, storage, and distribution infrastructure for diesel, with minimal adjustments.

It can also be blended with fossil diesel in any proportion, allowing companies to calibrate their investments in cleaner energy according to their decarbonisation goals.

On 26 April, dnata commenced a six-month long trial using Esso Renewable Diesel R20 made with minimum 20% renewable content to power a range of specialised ground support equipment and vehicles including aircraft pushback tractors and transporters.

CAG, SATS and SIAEC will conduct similar trials on their own equipment and for their operations over the next few months.

CAAS has also issued a new 'call for proposal' for other initiatives including optimisation of airport processes to enhance operational efficiency and sustainability of key processes such as reducing aircraft turnaround time and improving vehicle movements. 

Han Kok Juan, Director-General of CAAS said: “CAAS thanks our aviation eco-system stakeholders for working with us on the trials to use renewable diesel for heavy and specialised airside vehicles operating at Singapore Changi Airport for which there are no or few viable electric options. 

“The trials underscore Singapore’s firm commitment to decarbonise our aviation sector and exemplify our practical, action-oriented and collaborative approach. We hope that the example of the renewable diesel trials and our new call for proposal will further catalyse efforts to decarbonise the aviation sector.”

Koh Ming Sue, Executive Vice President, Engineering & Development of CAG said: “We welcome CAAS’ initiative to provide subsidy for these trials as renewable diesel is, in the near term, the only means to lower emissions in heavier and hard-to-abate vehicle types essential for airport function.”

Charles Galloway, Regional Chief Executive Officer for Asia Pacific, dnata, said: “We are thrilled to join forces with CAAS and take an active part in the industry’s decarbonisation efforts. These trials will help us optimise our supply chain processes for the safe introduction and distribution of renewable diesel to various types of equipment across our airside operations."

Foo Kean Shuh, Executive Vice President Operations and Chief Sustainability Officer of SIAEC said: “Renewable diesel is one of the decarbonisation levers that SIAEC is evaluating to halve our carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Conducting this trial will allow SIAEC to familiarise ourselves with using renewable diesel and verify its compatibility with our
existing and future equipment. SIAEC continues to work closely with CAAS and other partners on the adoption of renewable diesel at Changi Airport.”

Bob Chi, Chief Executive Officer of SATS Gateway Services, said: “Earlier this year, SATS trialled the use of renewable diesel on several specialised airport vehicles at the Singapore Airshow in February 2024. With CAAS support, SATS will next be trialling the use of renewable diesel on selected heavy and specialised ground services vehicles at Changi Airport’s airside soon. Our team will be collating, analysing the engine operating data and assessing the logistics and economics of deploying renewable diesel in ground operations on a scalable basis.”

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