Operational Excellence
January 23, 2024

Leading the charge: Xcel Energy joins call for meeting airports’ electrification needs

New study demonstrates need for collective effort to meet future electric power demands

With the transition to electric vehicles underway across North America and the pace of air travel expected to grow significantly, Xcel Energy is looking ahead to the electric power demands of an essential driver of economic growth: U.S. airports. 
This week, Xcel Energy and Enterprise Mobility released the results of a study, co-created with Jacobs, on the future electric power needs of U.S. airports and the industries that contribute to their ecosystems. Using two airports as examples, the study shows there is a critical window of opportunity to build the large-scale infrastructure needed to support electrification of future operational, cargo and passenger needs. This study underscores the need for collaboration and partnership across airports, utilities, federal and state regulators, and policy leaders to implement essential upgrades to airports’ power infrastructure. 
"This study exemplifies how Xcel Energy is collaborating with stakeholders to meet our customers’ long-term energy needs," Xcel Energy Vice President of Integrated Planning Stephen Martz said. "We’re developing the capacity and skills to best serve our customers into the future. When energy providers build reliable, affordable infrastructure, this supports economic growth while achieving our shared vision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." 
Airports are major economic drivers, contributing to more than 7% of the nation’s gross domestic product in 2023, according to the Airports Council International North America, and they will continue to drive economic growth as air travel is expected to grow significantly over the next two decades. 
The study found that by 2050 two example airports in the states Xcel Energy serves — Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and Denver International Airport — could require nearly five times the electric power currently used to be fully electrified. In light of the complexity and planning requirements of large capacity investments for critical infrastructure, the study quantifies the urgency to design and build the grid in due time for growth, stability and resiliency. 
Jacobs, a leading global professional services firm, interpreted input from more than 50 stakeholders — including airlines, utilities, ground transportation, cargo and third-party providers — to create a comprehensive view of the cross-industry power needs required to meet future electrification targets. Without strategic infrastructure investments, industries that operate in and around airports could face disruptions and barriers to economic growth, sustainability and innovation. A collective effort by industries, airports, utilities, federal and state regulators, and policy leaders is required to plan and implement essential upgrades to power infrastructure that serves airport ecosystems.  

"As transit and fleet owners electrify their vehicles, and airport operations require more electricity to function, airports will face continued unprecedented demand for power," Jacobs Senior Vice President Koti Vadlamudi said. "Jacobs interpreted a wide range of data and engaged stakeholders across the airport ecosystem to come to this report’s conclusion — now is the time for sensible investment in the power infrastructure that airports will need to operate efficiently, sustainably and with economic drivers in mind." 
Read the full study for more information on the power infrastructure investments needed to sustain our airport ecosystems.