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The New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Albany County are working on a new solar energy project near Albany International Airport. The ground mounted 2.1 megawatt (MW) solar array system on county property adjacent to the airport will produce an estimated 2.6-million-kilowatt hours a year.
“The completed system will help meet up to one-third of the county government’s annual electric demand, energy costs will go down, grid resiliency will increase, and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced,” said Maribel Cruz-Brown, Vice President for Economic Development at the New York Power Authority.
What is particularly noteworthy about the project is that it will be linked with community education and training. Joe Dragone, Capital Region BOCES Senior Executive Officer, says his organization is implementing curriculum surrounding the new solar project. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with NYPA. They donate their electric vehicles to us as we have one of the only EV curriculums in New York state. Another example of how this project focuses on the workforce of tomorrow that we are working so hard to do. And our friends at Siemens, we’ve been doing partnerships with them with STEM for years and years and years,” Dragone said.
An Albany Airport project begun in 2019 was for covering 200 parking spaces in the long-term parking lot with a solar awning that would help power airport vehicle charging stations and garage and terminal lighting.
Solar should continue to increase future involvement in the airport. CATYL, the world’s largest battery manufacturer is introducing in 2023 battery systems light enough and energy-dense enough to power aircraft. CATYL’s condensed battery design creates a stable self-adaptive net structure for lithium-ion systems. Commercial production will begin in 2023 with initial applications for commuter scale shorter flights.
Aviation electrification will mean increasing airport solar PV development to charge batteries that will power planes. Zero fuel cost solar energy will replace expensive and high polluting fossil fuel jet fuel. The expanses at and near airports are increasingly viewed as ideal and available solar sites.
Dulles Airport in Washington is building a 200,000 panel, 835-acre solar system near runways that will be the largest U.S. airport solar project which will help support electric aviation. Dominion Energy is committed to building 16,000 megawatts of solar capacity that will meet Virginia law for 100% of its non-nuclear energy zero emissions by 2045.
In Nepal Gautam Buddha International Airport in Nepal opened in April 2022 and will install more solar on-site to become fully solar powered. When finished, 10 MW of solar power at Gautam Buddha International Airport will cost nearly $10 million.
In Southwest India, Cochin International Airport has a 40-MW solar power system with 92,150 solar panels on 94 acres near the international cargo complex. Cohin International is the world’s first fully solar powered airport in the world.
Work on airport solar optimization is underway. A study by Sweden’s Uppsala University using Matlab Simulink found that battery storage systems increase the daily aircraft capacity considerably. The importance of properly sizing and optimizing equipment and potential travel routes for battery electric aircraft.
Swiss Air is following another path. They are planning to use “sun to liquid” jet fuel. Neste, the world’s largest producer of SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) claims its fuels reduce carbon emissions by 80% currently, using such as organic cooking oil and animal fat waste subject to chemical engineering processes. SAF is here now and in the process of becoming commercial. The future of aircraft powered by solar electricity or SAF remains to be seen. The transformation of energy consumption from fossil fuels to renewable energy is rapidly accelerating.
The ground-mounted 2.1MW solar array system on county property adjacent to the Albany, NY airport will produce an estimated 2.6-million-kilowatt hours a year. This system will meet up to one-third of the county government’s annual electric demand. (Roy Morrison)