California is aggressively moving forward with efforts to deploy zero-emission transportation technology to fight climate change. However, to date, the investments California has made with Cap-and-Trade funding have focused on ground transportation and some marine sources. These sources are major contributors to climate change but do not represent the entirety of transportation modes in California. One mode of transport where California is lagging in recognizing the potential to reduce GHG emissions through electrification is air transport with the rapidly emerging development and deployment of zero-emission aircraft powered by battery/hybrid electric motors.
With over 450 companies across the world investing billions of dollars in the development and certification of advanced electric/hybrid-electric aircraft, California is missing a critical opportunity to incorporate these aircraft into the fight against climate change by investing in the development of supporting infrastructure at public-use airports across the state concurrent with infrastructure for zero-emission ground vehicles. Since the infrastructure to support electric and hybrid-electric aircraft is very similar to what is needed to support zero-emission ground vehicles, the strategic investment in multi-modal support infrastructure could transform hundreds of under-utilized airports in California into zero-emission multi-modal transportation hubs that would improve connectivity, reduce emissions, and foster new innovation for fast-growing regions such as the San Joaquin Valley.
California State University, Fresno
There are over 140 public-use airports in California with 32 of those being in the San Joaquin Valley. Many of these airports are in close proximity to growing population and commerce centers, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, but are underutilized. The development of advanced electric/hybrid electric is opening the door to using these airports for both passenger and freight movement through significantly reduced costs of operation associated with electric propulsion. Strategic investment in the supporting infrastructure to facilitate operations of these new aircraft in conjunction with zero-emission ground vehicles offers the potential to transform these existing airport assets into multi-modal, zero-emission transportation hubs for the communities they are located in; bringing enhanced mobility and increased economic activity to many communities currently isolated due to limited ground transportation connections.
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