Top 8 Solar Powered Airports in the world

Antigua International Airport, the Caribbean

Airports around the world are starting to use solar energy and are finding it economically viable.

George Airport, located on the oceanfront in the Western Cape of South Africa, became the continent’s first to be fully solar-powered.

Kochi International Airport located in the Indian state of Kerala sets an example by using 100% solar energy generated electricity since 2015. Airports such as Kochi and George are reducing their dependency on coal-fired power plants.

We are focusing on the top eight solar-powered airports in the world that have helped in reducing carbon emissions. These airports have proven to accelerate the global warming and climate change issue abruptly.

1. Cochin International Airport, India

cochin international airport solar power plant
Image source – Google Maps

Built Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Country: India

Solar capacity: 28.8 MW

Total area: 225,000 square metres

Award Received: Champion of the Earth award in 2018

Cochin airport in India is the first airport whose electricity source is 100 percent sourced from solar panels or solar energy.

Cochin is located in the South Indian State of Kerala. The launch of the solar energy based power supply was carried out on Tuesday, August 18, 2015.

On a 45-hectare field near the airport, 46,000 solar panels were constructed. They have the capacity of producing 28.8MW power. The newly installed solar energy in the airport can reduce 300,000 tons of carbon emissions over 25 years.

It is equivalent to saving 3 million trees from cutting down trees. Or the equivalent of a fasting car ride as far as 750 million miles.

The panels are arranged and directed to the sun’s heat source. This renewable energy project has been planned since March 2013. This step was appreciated by the world because India started implementing renewable energy.

2. Gautam Buddha International Airport, Bhairahawa, Nepal

Gautam Buddha International Airport Solar Power
Image source – CAAN

Built Date: 8 July 1958

Country: Nepal

Solar capacity: 10 MW

Total area: 5087328.13 square metres

Award Received: None

Gautama Buddha Airport used to be the domestic airport of Nepal, but now it has been changed to an International airport.

It is also known as Bhairahava Airport, which is located in Siddharthanagar, serving the Butwal – Bhairahava metropolitan area as well as Lumbini in Lumbini province in Nepal.

It is currently being upgraded to serve international flights. The airport will become the second international airport in Nepal and the second largest airport in the world to use solar power for its operation.

This means the airport will use solar power for air traffic control room, baggage claim, runway lights to passenger terminals.

The Asian Development Bank has been funding the Green Airport Project.

The main objective of building the airport is to produce 10MW of solar power, for which the estimated cost was 1 million USD.

For this purpose, a team of aviation officials visited Malaysia in 2019. it is powered by a 19MW direct current system which was installed in 2014.

3. Chattanooga Airport, Tennessee, the US

Chattanooga Airport, Tennessee, the US
Image source – Google Maps

Built Date:1992

Country: USA

Solar capacity: 2.74 MW

Total area: 374400000 square metres

Award Received: None

Chattanooga Airport inaugurated the final project of a solar panel field to meet electricity needs in 2019.

This solar panel field project has gone through several phases until it finally arrived at the final phase.

The first phase started in 2011 when 1 MW solar power was constructed. At the time, there were 3,948 panels. Each panel had the capacity of generating 225 watts power.

In 2013, the second phase started  when another 1.1 MW solar farm was constructed. There were 3542 panels added. Each panel has the capacity of generating 310 Watts power.

The third phase started in 2017 when 641-kilowatt solar farm was constructed. Another 1886 solar panels were added. Each panel has the capacity of generating 340 Watts power.

By 2019, the solar panel field consists of a 12-hectare row of photovoltaic panels that generate 2.64 megawatts of electricity to meet the airport’s overall energy needs.

This solar panel project was funded through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) Grant.

In addition, in an effort to reduce the airport’s carbon footprint, other green initiatives have also been carried out. Such as several LED-certified facilities, stormwater systems, green infrastructure, and electric car charging stations.

4. George Airport, South Africa

George Airport, South Africa
Image source – @ThisIsAfricaTIA

Built Date:1977

Country: South Africa

Solar capacity: 750 KW

Total area: 200 square metres

Award Received:  the South African Airport of the Year award six times

George Airport started using solar energy in 2016, which covers 41% of total household energy consumption. A system with 3000 voltaic modules was built next to the airport.

George Airport became the first airport to promote renewable energy throughout the African continent.

Its 2,000 solar panels have the capacity of generating up to 750 kWh every day, easily exceeding the 400 kWh needed to run the airport.

The surplus is fed into the city’s electricity grid and a computer screen in the terminal.

Since the solar power plant has become the airport’s main source of power, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 1,229 tons – the equivalent of 103,934 liters of fuel. Electricity bills have been cut by 40% over the course of the year.

5. Antigua International Airport, the Caribbean

Antigua International Airport, the Caribbean
Image source – meeco.net

Built Date:1941

Country: Antigua

Solar capacity: 4,645 MWh

Total area: 23,000 square metres

Award Received:  none

The vision of a green and environmentally friendly energy supply in the Caribbean became a reality.

A 3 MWp solar sun2live installation that includes over 12,000 photovoltaic panels was developed and built by UK clean energy provider PV Energy Limited.

The solar power plant was completed at Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport and represented a pioneering project for the entire Caribbean.

The sun2live solar plant at the VC Bird International Airport Antigua has the capacity to generate up to 4,645 MWh of green energy per year and therefore saves a considerable 3,019.50 tons of CO2 discharge.

It contributes to the efforts of GOAB in addressing the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation.

To receive optimal results from the solar power plant, high-performing polycrystalline solar modules have been installed in the vicinity of the airport.

These modules guarantee excellent and exceptional efficiency even during cloudy skies and interrupted sun.

Activated by close cooperation between GOAB and PV Energy Limited, the entire installation of the sun2live airport solar power plant was completed in just 87 days.

Due to the unique location, the engineering team had to consider some specific challenges and features.

Since airplanes and airfields are very sensitive to glare and sunlight reflected from any of the solar panels, therefore the ideal direction of the photovoltaic modules had to be defined.

As a result of this, a detailed glow study is included in the comprehensive project plan for the Antigua VC Bird International Airport.

This first-size PV-MWp solar power park is part of a total capacity of 10 MWp in solar installations that have been agreed upon between GOAB and PV Energía.

The remaining 7 MWp are installed on the roofs of public buildings, such as ministries, schools, hospitals, and also in the form of additional parks mounted on land.

6. Tampa International Airport, Tampa, Florida

Tampa International Airport, Tampa, Florida solar farm
Image source – Tampaairport.com

Built Date: April 15, 1971

Country: USA

Solar capacity: 2 MW

Total area: N/A

Award Received: Best USA Airport in 2007 and 2008; in 2016 named one of top 3 airports in the USA

Tampa International Airport, with a joint venture with Tampa Electric on February 11, 2016, inaugurated the solar panels installed on its top floor of the airport’s south Economy Parking Garage.

It provides the much-needed energy supply to the airport and also provides solar energy to its residents.

The installed solar panels have a capacity of 2 MW which is enough to power up 250 homes. The energy it produces goes to the grid benefitting more than 725,000 customers, and of course, the airport itself.

It also operates more than a dozen electric vehicle charging stations. To initiate the use of renewable energy, it has provided the preferred parking spots for people driving alternative fuel vehicles.

7. San Diego International Airport, California

san diego international airport solar farm
Image source – copper.org

Built Date: August 16, 1928

Country: USA

Solar capacity: 5.5 MW

Total area: 2683065.8 Square meters

Award Received: 2018 Most Innovative Large Hub Award

The San Diego International Airport, abbreviated as SAN is the seventh-largest airport operating by solar power. In June 2021, it announced it would soon be operating on a 100% renewable energy source.

Currently, the airport is operating with the help of a solar PV project with more than 3-MWp.

The capacity was increased to 5.5MW in 2016. In the first year of its installation, the airport was able to produce 200 MW power enough to meet 10 to 13% of the airport’s energy requirements.

As of now, the airport has installed 4 MWh lithium batteries to the existing 5.5-MW solar power grid.

The San Diego Community Power (SDCP) in June 2021 announced to assist the airport by providing 100% renewable, 100% carbon-free energy.

8. Denver International Airport, United States

Denver International Airport solar
Image source – energy.gov

Built Date: February 28, 1995

Country: USA

Solar capacity: 10 MW

Total area: 140000000 Square meters

Award Received: 2021 USA Today Readers’ Choice Award

In the late 2000s, this Colorado state airport began using photovoltaics. Nineteen thousand solar panels were installed in its vicinity. The 2 MW solar system was built in August 2008.

The axle tracking system alone provides 3.5 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year and uses 9,200 solar panels made by Sharp.

Originally designed to operate a prison, the airport saves the environment with five million pounds of carbon discharge annually.

The system produces the equivalent of half the energy needs of underground trains that move people through crowds.

A fourth solar system was built in 2014 to further optimize the airport’s operation. It produces 2 megawatts of electricity and 3.1 kilowatt-hours and is establishing itself as one of the largest renewable energy projects in the United States.

The $ 13 million-plus system sits on 7.5 acres (or 30,000m) is clearly visible to people as soon as they enter and exit the airport.

WorldWater and Solar Technologies Corp. designed and developed the system, while MMA Renewable Ventures LLC owns the solar farm and sells its energy to the airport.

The three solar array systems installed in Denver International Airport now produce approximately six percent of the airport’s total power requirements.

It is the only airport in the United States to have implemented an ISO 14001-authenticated environmental management system that covers the entire airport.