Following the extreme weather conditions of winter 2010, BAA are planning to take no chances with the snow and ice in 2011, and are considering installing ‘underfloor heating’ on runways at Heathrow airport.
The icy conditions caused long delays with many flights cancelled, so the idea is to store waste energy during the summer months, then use it to warm the ground directly beneath the aircraft during icy conditions.
Steven Morgan, capital projects director at BAA said “We are working on a concept to capture geothermal energy from the surface of the tarmac – so it is energy without using the grid – during the summer, to then provide a heating capability so the stands don’t freeze in the winter.” He also confirmed that it was the ice that caused all the problems last December and not the snow.
Morgan also explained that the energy would be stored underground and then used to heat water that would run through pipes, beneath the airport stands, to just above zero.
The system which is still in the early stages of planning at Heathrow is already used in airports across Scandinavia.