Electric Cars Take Off In Spain

Behind the general hustle and roaring aircraft engines at Spain’s major airports there is to be found a growing vein of quietness.

Airports operator AENA is going electric for some of its fleet of airside vehicles and has awarded a contract to GE Energy (NYSE: GE) and Spanish energy supplier Endesa to supply and operate the vehicle charging infrastructures.

GE Energy’s Industrial Solutions business will provide 53 of its DuraStation* electric vehicle chargers to AENA airports in Madrid, Barcelona, Palma and Lanzarote.

The DuraStations enable faster charging by integrating higher voltages and currents that require specialized equipment and connectors. They will be incorporated into the airports’ energy management infrastructure and vehicles will be charged on off-peak overnight electricity tariffs.

The three-year pilot program will enable AENA to assess the feasibility of replacing its entire fleet of airport vehicles with electric alternatives. It is hoped that electric vehicles will also eventually be adopted by other companies operating at the airports.

In addition to a growing range of electric vehicle charging stations, GE Energy provides the full range of electrical systems and smart grid technology necessary to develop and manage a complete electric vehicle infrastructure.

“We are delighted to be working with companies with the foresight of AENA and Endesa,” said Todd Johnstone, chief executive officer of GE Energy’s Industrial Solutions. “Major manufacturers are now launching electric cars into the mainstream market; however, the power grid will require significant investment to make their widespread use possible. It will be up to companies such as GE Energy, AENA and Endesa to provide the technology, expertise and investment to make this possible.”

It is estimated that every electric vehicle that comes on to the roads will require 1.5 chargers; in Europe alone electric vehicle sales are expected to reach half a million per year by 2015.

GE is a keen supporter of electric vehicles and on September 14, 2011, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with car maker PSA Peugeot Citroën to collaborate towards establishing reliable business models for electric vehicles. As a sign of its engagement in the EV sector, GE has shown interest in buying 1,000 electric vehicles from PSA Peugeot Citroën in Europe by the end of 2015. Last year, GE announced plans to purchase 25,000 electric vehicles worldwide for use as company cars and to lease to corporate customers through its Fleet Services business.