Long-term grid planning at Brussels Airport

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Published on
May 29, 2020

Coordinating energy policies on a site as diverse as an airport is never easy; coordinating such policies in a period of extensive developments while remaining an operational airport makes such task even more daunting. In this context, 3E assisted DNB BA – a subsidiary of Brussels Airport and the system operator of the airport’s closed distribution grid – in assessing the impact of the potential on-site developments on its operations within the framework of a long-term strategic vision of Brussels Airport.

Brussels Airport is the second most important logistics cluster in Belgium: it receives over 25 million passengers and 500 000 tonnes of cargo every year, and it is home to over 260 companies, together directly employing 20,000 people. To strengthen this position, Brussels Airport developed its Strategic Vision 2040 which included large-scale re-developments of the Northern cargo zone and the centrally located business district.

During the implementation of this vision, many different decisions can have a significant impact on the power distribution grid on site: the demolishment of existing buildings, the development of new office, cargo and parking buildings, a reconfiguration of the heat network, the electrification of on-site transport, the deployment of large-scale rooftop and greenfield PV systems, … all result in changing loads, which impact the currents and voltages in the distribution grid.

To grasp the potential impact of the Strategic Vision 2040 on the operations of DNB BA, 3E formulated narrative energy scenarios for combining two axes of scenarios, i.e.:

When combined, the set of scenarios integrate up to 50 MW of PV, up to 6 MWe of CHPs and an additional 40 GWh of power demand on the premises of the airport. For each combination of scenarios, hourly load profiles are simulated based on smart meter readings for different zones of the airport. These load profiles provided a clear insight in the power exchanges that might occur in the distribution grid and in the range of loads that will be applied on the different elements of the grid.

Ruben Baetens, Energy Strategy & Policy consultant at 3E, explains further: “3E was very pleased to assist DNB BA in its long-term planning. The diverse setting of a closed distribution grid on a site in full development but with many uncertainties brings together the expertise of our different departments: scenario analysis for strategic decisions, the aspects of power distribution, building energy standards, renewables, electrification of demand, smart meter data … 3E’s knowledge on these topics have contributed to a nice integrated simulation approach to support the coordination of energy policies at Brussels Airport.”

Bram De Wispelaere, Head of DNB BA, adds: “As operator of the electricity distribution grid on Brussels Airport we are very much aware that our grid is an enabler in the commercial ambitions of Brussels Airport by 2040 and should be ready to integrate energy solutions like PV and electrical vehicles to strive to zero CO2 emissions by 2050. We found in 3E a good partner that combined fundamental strategic thinking, expertise in climate and energy policies and a strong competence in big data management to simulate the future electricity demand and generation on the Brussels Airport Site in six easy to understand scenarios. Now we can pinpoint the bottlenecks and timely invest in smart and efficient solutions.”

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