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Project Experience: ACRP Synthesis Report “Investigating Safety Impacts of Energy Technologies on Airports and Aviation”

The Challenge

The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) at the National Academies solicited project research requests from the aviation community. One of the topics it selected for initial funding was preparation of a Synthesis Report to assess the existing state of knowledge on potential impacts of energy technologies on airports and aviation. HMMH’s Stephen Barrett was selected by the ACRP to be the Principal Investigator for the Synthesis Report titled “Investigating Safety Impacts of Energy Technologies on Airports and Aviation.”

The Strategy

HMMH worked with ACRP staff and a panel of experts to refine the scope of work and prepare the Synthesis Report. Once the scope was confirmed, HMMH compiled information on energy technologies and potential impacts. The energy technologies assessed were solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar power, wind turbine generators, traditional and peaker combined cycle power plants, and electric transmission infrastructure necessary to deliver power from generation sites to load centers. Potential impacts from those technologies include visual glare from solar power, airspace penetration from wind turbines and other large energy structures, radar interference from wind turbines, vapor plumes from water cooled power plants, and thermal plumes from air cooled power plants.

The Solution

The Synthesis Report produced chapters on each of the energy technologies and the associated impacts. The report included pictures and schematics illustrating some of the issues associated with the energy technologies. Each chapter included specific examples of energy technologies where potential impacts were identified, the performance standards used to assess potential impacts, and how those impacts were mitigated to avoid impacts on aviation. The report also provided a list of information gaps where additional research is required and on-going efforts by Federal agencies to fill information gaps. The report was published in September 2011.