Extraordinary Times for Renewable Energy!

by Steve Barrett

We are breathing rarified air these days thanks to renewable energy.  And the proof is in statistics. 

Get this:

  • 49% of all new electricity generation in the United States in 2012 came from renewable energy. 
  • 100% of new generation in January 2013 was from renewables!

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) releases a monthly report of new energy infrastructure that has been placed in service as well as an official compilation for each calendar year.  The updates include miles of new electric transmission lines, number of new hydropower projects, miles of natural gas pipelines, and MW of new electric power generation.  And airports are playing a significant role particular in solar power as evidenced by these projects that went into service over the past 13 months:

1)      3.6 MW Phase 2 Lakeland Regional Airport Solar Project expansion in Polk County, Florida. The Lakeland Regional Airport Solar has a total capacity of 6.3 MW.

2)      3 MW Pearson County Airport Solar Project in Timberlake North Carolina.  The amount of electricity being produced is equivalent to 360 households.

3)      3 MW Chicago-Rockford International Airport in Rockford, Illinois.   This is the first phase of what will be a 62 MW project that will produce enough power for 60,000 homes.

4)      FedEx developed a 3.6 MW project on its facilities at Newark Liberty International Airport which is providing 15% of its electricity needs.  See http://www.hmmh.com/.

Given the critical importance to our nation of the safety of air travel, the FAA is looking very closely at solar projects to make sure that they will not generate glare that might cause a negative impact on air traffic controllers and pilots.  HMMH provided reflectivity studies for the Chicago-Rockford and FedEx Projects, which otherwise would not have received the FAA’s approval.  We are also working with the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories on cutting edge research associated with solar glare under Airport Cooperative Research Project 02-38, Guidebook for Energy Projects’ Compatibility with Airports and Airspace.  As we accumulate knowledge about siting compatibility, expect to see more renewable energy projects at airports and across the country.

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