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Technical services and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, water, resources, defence and government sectors.

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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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Why airports should consider solar

The carbon footprint of the aviation industry has been a contentious issue for a long time. Offsetting their emissions is no small feat - but tapping into solar energy, a ready-to-use technology, could help pave the way. 

From meeting sustainability goals and lowering emissions, to reducing operational energy costs and generating revenue from unused land, could solar be the future of airport infrastructure? We take a look at the benefits and opportunities of solar and some of the airports leading the way in harnessing solar energy.

12 October 2022 | 3 min read
Geoff Dewick
ON THIS PAGE
Contact us about your solar project
Airplanes on the tarmac
Sunlight hitting panels on solar farm

Mitigating potential barriers

With sufficient analysis in the planning stages, solar systems will be able to blend in seamlessly with airport operations. Successful implementation of solar systems depends on siting studies, including considerations for glint and glare potential, wildlife impacts, system performance, and safety. So what issues can you expect to encounter and how can we overcome them?

  • Initial investment – understanding the financial viability of introducing solar is often the first hurdle. Engaging with an Energy & Utilities Infrastructure team to undertake a business case assessment can help by providing scenarios for various power outputs and advising on grid connections.
  • Location - A key issue in solar development is finding the best location to ensure it does not impede airport operations. It must be an appropriate distance from the runway and adhere to safety and fire measures.
  • Grid interaction – if all the energy produced is consumed on site, you still need to consider the wider grid infrastructure. Energy & Utilities Infrastructure specialists can discuss the operation of the scheme with the network operator and process a formal application.
  • Regulations:
    • Glint and glare – Impact to pilots and air traffic control must be reviewed. Obtaining glint and glare assessments will help you successfully implement solar and bring to light available technologies to assist in mitigating glare.
    • Risk assessment – conducting an environmental risk assessment to evaluate any potential obstacles, interference and safety risks can help you cover all bases during the planning stage.
  • Retrofitting to existing buildings – Structural engineers can advise on the structural capability of existing buildings and/or new building structures and illustrate how solar capacity can be engineered into the project.
  • Wildlife attractants – Implementing measures, such as perches or shade, will help mitigate against creating wildlife attractants.

RPS has over 40 years’ experience working with clients in the aviation sector, providing a unique blend of multi-disciplinary services. Our team will work closely with you to provide the support and advice you need to ensure your solar project achieves its full potential.