Denver International Airport said it started work on two solar arrays with a combined generating capacity of 18.5 MW. The arrays will produce around 36 million kWh of electricity every year.
Work is underway on the first solar array, which is slated to enter service in the first quarter of 2022. The second array then will start construction with a goal to enter service in the third quarter.
Through a partnership with Greenbacker Renewable Energy, the airport will buy electricity via long-term power purchase agreements that are expected to save it $3 million over 25 years.
Greenbacker bought the two pre-development projects from Denver-based Oak Leaf Energy Partners. The projects are known as DIA 7 and DIA 8 (12.4 MWdc and 6.0 MWdc, respectively). They will join several operational solar assets that Greenbacker already owns at the airport—including two community solar gardens.
Airports across the country have been looking to increase power resilience and reliability after several high-profile power outages led to thousands of cancelled flights and passenger travel disruptions.
The issue gained international attention a week before Christmas in 2017 when a fire in an underground electrical system knocked out power for 11 hours at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, one of the world’s busiest. Air traffic was disrupted across the United States, and more than 1,000 flights into and out of Atlanta were canceled.
Federal aviation regulators previously worried that siting solar energy systems at U.S. airports could produce a potentially dangerous glint and glare effect on pilots on final approach. The FAA has since concluded that, in most cases, the glint and glare is not much different than what pilots routinely deal with from lakes and streams, glass-faced buildings, parking lots, and similar features.
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