ND046 – American airport installs solar panels to go almost completely green
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American airport installs solar panels to go almost completely green

The challenge of making traveling cleaner is not the responsibility of aircraft alone. Airports consume a lot of energy as well. That’s why the Monterey Regional Airport in California installed 2,354 solar panels that will take the 95 percent of the airport off the electrical grid.

Monterey Regional Airport installs 2,354 solar panels

The new solar system will produce 1.5 million kilowatts of energy every year. That is enough electricity to power 111 households and will reduce the airport’s utility bill significantly. Monterey Airport spent almost $300,000 on electricity in 2016. “Our lights run 24 hours a day, and that consumes a lot of energy, our budget last year was $284,000,” said airport general manager Michael LaPier to KSBW8.

The California Energy Commission helped to finance the project. The 3-acre solar array was installed by San Jose based Opterra Solar. The company had earlier installed solar systems at Yuba County Airport and the Salinas Municipal Airport, both in California.

Opterra collaborated with the Federal Aviation Administration to design solar arrays that are safe for airports and will not distract incoming pilots. The panels are placed at an angle that will not generate any glare, which would make it harder for pilots to see. “It'll be safe while it is generating clean energy,” said Emily Douglas with Opterra.

Going for solar energy is in line with the airport’s ongoing efforts to go green.  In 1999 Monterey Regional Airport bought its first electric vehicle. Five years later it started switching its field lighting over to LED, and now it runs on solar.

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