YVR to become electric clean-tech test hub

Initiative will pair YVR with B.C. clean-techs to electrify airport operations

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Electrifying ground handling equipment part of YVR's net zero by 2030 ambitions. | Air Canada Twitter

B.C. clean-tech companies will be given the chance to test out their technologies at Vancouver International Airport , thanks to $11.5 million in funding from the B.C. government.

The funding will be used to create the Integrated Marketplace Initiative, the aim of which is “to identify business needs and source and test made-in-B.C. clean-technology solutions that reduce greenhouses gases,” the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation says in a press release.

“This will provide small B.C. clean-tech companies with a platform to test their innovation on real-world challenges, while B.C. industry gets help solving challenging business problems,” the release says. “This will result in domestic customers for B.C. clean-tech companies and proof of concept to support scale up and export of B.C. innovation.”

At a press conference at YVR Monday, B.C. Innovation Commissioner Gerri Sinclair described the marketplace as a "buyers club" that gives smaller companies access to larger companies and authorities, like YVR, which have considerable procurement powers.

"Because established, larger companies typically don't buy products from home-grown startups, B.C. entrepreneurs never get the chance to prove their technologies to potential customers around the world," Sinclair said. "The Integrated Marketplace Initiative helps solve this challenge by creating what I like to call a buyers' club of larger companies who chare common business challenges."

YVR already offsets its own emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets. Its goal is to produce zero emissions by 2030, and has committed $135 million over 10 years towards achieving that goal.

"It's an ambitious goal," said B.C. Jobs and Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon. "And to get there YVR is playing a very important role as a big customer for clean technology.

"B.C. businesses and organizations like YVR come together in a marketplace to buy products from B.C. clean-tech companies. In doing so, the new integrated marketplace gives B.C. innovators and businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and test new technologies and scale their products and services to create good jobs as well as fill large customer orders."

The new marketplace will focus largely on electrifying YVR's fleet of airfield vehicles, such as baggage tractors, belt loaders and stair trucks, which currently run mostly on diesel.

"Almost all of the ground-side vehicles that we have right now are combustion engine or diesel," said YVR CEO Tamara Vrooman. "So we do have an opportunity to transform those through electrification, primarily. We've installed 94 charges stations to date, but now we have to do the electrification of the actual vehicles. And we're also looking at sustainable biofuels for some of our heavier fleet, as well as hydrogen as a longrer-term potential."

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv