Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport in Tennessee has become the first airport in the United States to run entirely on solar power. The small facility recently announced the completion of a 12-acre, 2.64 megawatt solar farm. With this, they are now able to generate enough green energy to account for the facilities total energy needs, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The project, funded largely by the Federal Aviation Administration, cost a total of $10 million. It took nine years and three phases to complete. It utilizes onsite batteries to support night time power operations and has an expected life span of 30 to 40 years. The array is built in the southwest corner of the airfield on land deemed unusable for aviation purposes, and is visible from Chattanooga’s two runways. “It’s good for our environment and our bottom line,” Dan Jacobson, chairman of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority, said at a press event. He made note that the solar panels produce enough electricity to power 160,000 light bulbs.
John Naylor, vice president of planning and development for the airport, told Bloomberg News in December that officials from nearly 50 airports around the world have visited or contacted the Chattanooga airfield in recent years. He said they came to learn more about their solar operations. Several major airports, including San Diego and the UK’s Gatwick, have installed solar panels capable of handling a portion of their power needs. Moreover, the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, is looking to construct renewable energy microgrids to help power a portion of it’s operations. The trend looks to follow in the footsteps of the global leader in clean energy aviation, which is Cochin International in Kerala, India. Cochin as been 100% solar powered since 2015, with a 29.5 megawatt array.