Development of hydrogen Ground Power Unit at Groningen Airport Eelde

Fossil-powered is replaced by hydrogen

The Province of Drenthe and Europe are enabling the development of a hydrogen-powered Ground Power Unit (H2-GPU). A GPU is a generator for aircraft on the ground, now mainly fossil-powered. The H2-GPU will be powered by green hydrogen generated by solar energy at the airport in the near future.

Holthausen Clean Technology, in cooperation with the Province of Drenthe, KLM Equipment Service (KES) and Groningen Airport Eelde, will carry out this assignment. The GPU, currently still fossil-powered, comes from KES. They will make the GPU available for hydrogen developments at Groningen Airport Eelde in order to gain experience and contribute to making aviation more sustainable.

Ground-handling equipment at airports

A GPU is used to provide electrical power to aircraft on the ground. Diesel GPUs account for more than a third of the diesel consumption of ground equipment at airports. In the H2-GPU being developed, the diesel engine gives way to a hydrogen power train. This will drastically reduce emissions, and gain experience in using hydrogen in airport ground operations equipment. During the process, research will take place for evaluation, optimisation and replication purposes. The results will be known in the second quarter of 2023.

Hydrogen ambition Groningen Airport Eelde

Wessel Rijkens, Manager Handling:

“It is Groningen Airport Eelde’s ambition to make ground handling completely energy-neutral by 2030. To this end, the airport mainly uses hydrogen technology.”

This ambition is part of the ‘Hydrogen Valley Airport’ (HVA) project. In HVA, the airport works together with (mainly regional) partners such as New Energy Coalition, educational institutions, Groenleven, Demcon and the Province of Drenthe to create a complete and scalable hydrogen ecosystem. From the production of green hydrogen, to distribution, storage and end-use. The airport is leading the way in making aviation more sustainable and is considered a testing ground for this for other airports in the Interreg North Sea Programme area, such as Schiphol.

Paul Feldbrugge, Manager Fleet Management & Engineering:

“KES is pleased to contribute towards a Zero Emission airport operation through hydrogen technology. In the coming years, basically all Diesel GPUs will be replaced by either H2-GPU or Battery powered E-GPU. From the current pilot with E-GPUs at Schiphol Airport, the environmental benefits are already well visible but this solution also has disadvantages in the form of charging time and travel to a charging point. We therefore hope to eliminate those mentioned disadvantages with our contribution to this H2 development project.”

Tjisse Stelpstra, Deputy Drenthe Province:

“We are proud of this collaboration of the Province of Drenthe with the airport, which as a frontrunner is focusing so emphatically on making aviation more sustainable, using the network, knowledge and experience that exists in our Province in the field of hydrogen.”

Subsidie from HyTrEc2

Funding for this route comes from the European programme HyTrEc2, part of the Interreg VB North Sea Region Programme. The Province of Drenthe is a partner in this programme, which aims to support the use of hydrogen in the transport and energy sector in the North Sea Region (NSR).


Ground Power Unit


Holthausen Clean Technologie, New Energy Coalition