Biomass energy specialist Energy Crop Solutions and local resident Andrew Swift have won London Heathrow Airport’s first ever Sustainable Innovation Prizes.
The winners were judged as the best solutions to potentially solve some of the sustainability challenges facing airports and the aviation industry.
Entries were invited to focus on three areas: using waste as a resource; sustainable and low carbon materials; and measuring and enhancing the quality of life locally.
As a winner of the Innovation Prize, Energy Crop Solutions will receive £20,000 (US$25,800) in funding and the opportunity to use the airport as a testbed for its sustainability solution. Energy Crop Solutions plans to work with local charity Green Corridor to explore how different willow varieties provide acoustic, air quality and aesthetic improvements for local residents. The company will also explore whether the willows can be used to fuel the airport’s on-site biomass boiler.
A similar innovation competition, run internally to engage airport staff, was won by Maidenhead resident Andrew Swift who proposed using the airport’s plastic waste for road surfacing.
Heathrow will fund research into Swift’s winning idea which could lead to an on-airport trial. Based on the strength of this year’s entries, Heathrow has decided to launch a second prize early in 2019.
Matt Gorman, director of sustainability and environment, London Heathrow, said, “The creativity and ingenuity from all the entries we received has shown us the value of our Innovation Prize. We look forward to seeing the results of the research and trials from our winners, and how they will help us think outside of the box to tackle our biggest environmental challenges at the airport.”
Gary Crooks from Energy Crop Solutions said, “We are absolutely delighted to be selected as a winner of the Sustainable Innovation Prize. Working with Heathrow has given us a unique opportunity to demonstrate the benefits now possible from the latest willow cultivars and second-generation biomass.
“With this amazing opportunity, we will demonstrate the benefits of willow for air quality, biodiversity and noise reduction for the local communities.”