World first at Groningen Airport Eelde: unveiling hydrogen GPU

On 1 June 2023, the first hydrogen-powered Ground Power Unit (GPU) was unveiled at Groningen Airport Eelde. A world first! GPUs are generators used to power aircraft on the ground. At the moment, diesel GPUs are mainly used at airports. At the initiative of Groningen Airport Eelde, such a diesel generator has been converted to hydrogen technology: a sustainable solution and currently unique in the world.

Initiator Groningen Airport Eelde (GAE) worked closely with New Energy Coalition, the Province of Drenthe, KLM Equipment Services, HyTrEc2, the University of Groningen, and Holthausen Clean Technologies to realize the GPU on hydrogen. Holthausen played a major role in converting the diesel GPU to hydrogen GPU. Now that the GPU has been realized, the certification process will be started, so that it can be used as soon as possible during the ground handling of aircraft at the northern airport. According to a study presented today by the University of Groningen, GPUs are responsible for 10% of total aviation emissions. Hydrogen GPUs have a significantly lower environmental impact than diesel GPUs.

The unveiling took place during summer drinks, an event organized by GAE today. The world first brought many interested people to the airport. About 140 guests registered for the event, and witnessed the moment when the GPU was unveiled. Deputy Tjisse Stelpstra (Province of Drenthe) was responsible for the unveiling. He played an important role in the realization of the GPU, and therefore received the first ‘Hydrogen Valley Airport Ambassador Award’.

Sven Kockelmann was also present at the airport in the morning. He presented his live broadcast of radio program Sven op 1 from GAE, where he asked Meiltje de Groot about sustainable aviation in the future, and therefore also about the GPU on hydrogen.

The hydrogen-powered GPU is an important development and a good step towards GAE’s sustainable future: the ambition is to be the most sustainable airport in Europe in terms of hydrogen by 2030.

Photo: Léon van Dorp