To meet its environmental targets, the Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt (BER) increasingly relies on environmentally friendly electric mobility, both air- and landside. Read why BER trusts Virta with the implementation, planning and maintenance of its charging infrastructure.
The Berlin Brandenburg Airport, operated by Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, opened in October 2020 and is the third largest airport in Germany after Frankfurt and Munich. As part of its CO2 reduction strategy, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 65% by 2030 compared to 2010, the airport decided to invests long-term in e-mobility.
Flughafen Energie und Wasser GmbH (FEW), a wholly owned subsidiary of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH that operates the supply and disposal systems at the BER Airport, is responsible for implementing e-mobility at the airport. As the Charging Point Operator (CPO) at the site, it provides charging infrastructure to various stakeholders.
Photo 1: Virta charging station at the airside of the BER Airport.
As mentioned, Flughafen Energie und Wasser GmbH is responsible for all supply and disposal systems. In addition to electricity, this includes heating, cooling, drinking and extinguishing water, wastewater, and rainwater systems.
Michael Klopsch, Commercial Administration & Contract Management Officer at Flughafen Energie und Wasser GmbH, responsible, among other things, for the EV charging infrastructure on-site, can look back on more than ten years of work at the airport.
“E-mobility is a core component of our CO2 reduction strategy at the airport, and we are seeing an increasing demand for EV charging infrastructure on both the airside and the landside,” says Michael Klopsch.
Photo 2: Michael Klopsch, Commercial Administration & Contract Management Officer at Flughafen Energie und Wasser GmbH at the Berlin Brandenburg Airport.
As the number of charging points at the site increased, a simple and remotely controlled management system for the charging stations became essential.
As e-mobility at and around the airport expanded, the demands for the back-end system grew. The charging infrastructure now needs to serve various user groups, including a wide range of service providers on the airside, passengers on the landside, airport employees and car hire and car-sharing companies.
Photo 3: Service vehicles in the security area within the airport grounds charge at the Virta Double charging station.
BER was looking for an ideal back-end system that would offer a holistic solution and cover all areas - private, semi-public and public charging and enable automatic billing and load management.
“Load management for the charging stations customised to our needs is important because it represents a cost-effective and efficient alternative to grid expansion,” says Michael Klopsch.
A public tender was launched in January 2023 to find an integrated charging solution. Virta ultimately won the race and has been supplying the back-end system, the Virta Platform, and hardware for the Berlin Airport ever since.
The existing charging stations at the site have been gradually integrated into the Virta Platform. Ebad Ali Qureshi, a Solution Architect at Virta, provided on-site support during the migration and trained the airport staff. Currently, BER’s technical staff are carrying out the migration themselves.
“The charging stations on site are mainly devices from the manufacturers Schneider and Mennekes, which we integrated into the Virta Platform without any problems,” says Ebad Ali Qureshi.
Michael Klopsch is satisfied with the Virta charging solution:
“Virta’s back-end is interesting because it supports load management. It also makes customer administration much clearer and more organised.”
As part of the collaboration, Virta Double charging stations were installed and put into operation in various areas of the airport, including on the apron at the airbridges, at vehicle depots in the security area and at car parks on the landside.
While charging below the airbridges used to be carried out with a standard CEE, it’s now done with 26 Virta Double charging stations.
Photo 4: An electric vehicle with a luggage ramp charges at a Virta Double charging station.
The apron is used by several vehicles for loading and unloading freight and passengers, by aircraft tugs, baggage handling vehicles, catering vehicles and maintenance vehicles of different service providers. The charging power can now be allocated to a specific user group and is billed accordingly.
“The big advantage is that charging occurs close to where the relevant vehicles are parked. We can allocate the charging power to the respective service provider and bill them accordingly,” says Michael Klopsch.
Overall, there are many benefits to using electric vehicles. As Michael Klopsch says:
“Electric vehicles are significantly less maintenance-intensive, operation in sub-zero temperatures runs more efficiently, and we avoid CO2 emissions at the site as a result.”
Photo 5: Electric towing vehicle charging at a Virta Double charging station at gate B08.
With the Virta back-end system, the charging stations can be controlled remotely. In addition, data and insights into the charging processes are available at any time and from anywhere. Billing for the charging sessions takes place automatically in the background.
With renewable energies and an energy-efficient infrastructure, BER will continue to reduce its CO2 emissions.
The Berlin Airport plans to focus on e-mobility even more in the coming years. The current 140 charging points will grow to over 200 in the following expansion stages.
Photo 6: Electric car-sharing vehicles can be charged at the P4 car park near Willy-Brandt-Platz.
Felix Rathke, a Sales Executive at Virta, has been the project manager responsible for BER since the start of the collaboration:
“As a relevant economic driver in the region, BER is taking on a pioneering role in e-mobility with its private and public charging infrastructure. The public charging infrastructure, in particular, enables thousands of travellers to travel to and from their destinations CO2-free daily."
Photo 7: From left to right: Felix Rathke, Michael Klopsch and Ebad Ali Qureshi.