Seeking Space for Solar Farms, Cities Find Room at Their Airports


“The government incentivizes development of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, through the use of tax credits and accelerated depreciation,” mentioned Miriam S. Wrobel, a senior managing director at FTI Consulting in San Francisco. “Often, public entities such as airports cannot utilize the tax benefits, so third parties own the assets and sell the energy generated to the airport.”

Prices are locked for 20 to 25 years, however the proprietor will get paid solely when the vitality is flowing.

The bid for the Tallahassee mission was gained by Origis Energy, a Miami agency that provides clear vitality storage options. Johan Vanhee, Origis’s chief industrial officer, mentioned the airport mission was a departure for the corporate. “We are a wholesale generator of renewable energy,” he mentioned. “Ninety-nine percent of our plants are not on airports.”

But consultants say the decreasing price of solar modules and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocating $25 billion to airports could alter the share.

A decade in the past, a module alone price round $2.50 per watt, and now a whole utility-scale photovoltaic system prices round $1 per watt, mentioned David J. Feldman, a senior monetary analyst in Washington for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a analysis middle primarily based in Golden, Colo., and funded by the Energy Department.

“Solar costs have come down significantly in the last decade,” mentioned Alicen Kandt, senior engineer at the National Renewable Energy Lab. “It becomes appealing in areas that may seem less than ideal.”

One of these missed areas is Maine, the place a solar project proposed for Augusta State Airport is predicted to supply 7.5 megawatts of capability, all of it returned to the grid.

“It’s open space, no hazard to anybody, the state owns it, and it helps taxpayers and the environment,” Paul Merrill, a spokesman for Maine’s Department of Transportation, mentioned of the mission, which is predicted to avoid wasting the state $6 million over 20 years.



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