Airports are some of the largest infrastructures in the world and with the thousands of passengers that pass through each year, they generate tons of electricity on a daily basis. They operate 24 hours a day and see tens of millions of passengers pass through each year which means they are constantly looking for new ways to source the power needed to keep their operations on track. For an increasing number of airports, this means switching over to renewable energy.
The issue for airports became more apparent in December 2017 when Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had a power outage that caused chaos for nearly 12 hours. This blackout led to more than 1,000 flights being either delayed or cancelled and reportedly “Cost delta airlines, the main commercial carrier at the Georgia hub, as much as $50 million”.
This disaster was caused by a logistical faux pas as the primary and backup cables both ran through the same tunnel. This led to a fire in the vital passageway under the airport which took out the two connections simultaneously.
With this technical disaster fresh in everyone’s minds the reliability of solar and wind powers could play a big part in being the reason to move towards change. According to the National Academy of sciences, one potential benefit of changing to renewables is that airports would have more control over their electrical infrastructure because energy would be produced and distributed onsite.
Producing energy onsite would also mean that the day to day operations would be less affected by global energy markets. This would be a major advantage for the air travel industry as their energy costs on the ground would be marginally less then what they are paying now.
With more than 800,000 areas of vacant land inside the majority of airports, solar power is the perfect renewable energy choice. If all this space was used for solar PV “the resulting energy production would be approximately 116,000 megawatts, which is roughly the same amount of energy produced by 100 coal-fired plants.
With Gatwick and Birmingham, airports already having made the move to solar power by installing 50-kilowatts of solar PV, it won’t be long untill the others follow suit, and become one of the largest players in the renewable industry!