Most communication and surveillance systems for air traffic control (ATC) are installed onto isolated sites. They are equipped with diesel generators to ensure constant availability of electrical energy in case of a national grid power outage. This project aims to replace those polluting generators with new generation systems using hydrogen, produced from renewable energies.

A first demonstrator project on the radiocommunication antenna of Sarlat (Dordogne) used by Bordeaux ACC was set up on July 29, 2021 and officially inaugurated on September 14, 2021. It combines photovoltaic and hydrogen technologies: solar panels directly supply the station, the energy excess is used as both short-term energy storage into Li/Ion batteries, and long-term energy storage as hydrogen produced by water electrolysis. As a result, in case of need, the hydrogen can be used through a fuel cell to produce the electricity necessary for the radio antenna.

This project was carried out in partnership with Bouygues Energies & Services, the French start-up PowiDian specialized in green energies and BG Consulting Engineers.

“The whole system significantly improves the environmental footprint of air navigation since it operates in autonomy at 75% and thus, it reduces CO2 emissions by nearly 60%. As the only waste from this process is water, this solution offers a green way to supply energy for multiple uses. This technology will contribute to reach the objective of zero carbon emission for our activities at all of these isolated sites.” said Florian Guillermet, DSNA director.

This solution has been labeled by the SOLAR IMPULSE foundation created by Bertrand Piccard that rewards 1,000 clean and profitable solutions around the world. As part of the European project ALBATROSS (SESAR1 program), SEPHER will also participate in an exercise to reduce the overall carbon footprint of a real zero-emission test (test with an electro-hydrogen generator).