Southend airport wants to build an 8 acre solar farm on part of its land
Southend Airport is planning to build a solar farm on part of its land, which cannot be used for much else as it is in a flood plain area. This is land to the north of the main terminal. The plan is for 12,000 solar panels in 41 rows, spread over almost 8 acres of grassland. – and providing up to 20% of the airport’s electricity on some days. Council planners are recommending approval for the plans, even though councillors rejected an almost identical plan a few months ago. As the panels are on frames, they can be above the flood level, and the transformer building would be sited outside the flood plain. The EA objected to the previous application because it would lay on a flood plain, and has submitted a provisional objection this time on the same grounds. Airport officials say the panels will not interfere with the airport’s operations. The plan is that the panels will not disturb nearby badger setts. Rochford’s planning committee is due to vote on the application – on Thursday 20th May. There are still government subsidies for this sort of solar farm, as it is not taking up valuable agricultural land. Some other airports in sunnier countries have solar farms.
Southend Airport wants to build huge solar farm
19.5.2015 (Southend Echo)
by Ian Burbridge
THOUSANDS of solar panels could be sited close to Southend Airport to help power its continuing development.
The airport has applied to create a huge solar farm on land to the north of the main terminal.
It would have 12,000 solar panels in 41 rows and be spread over almost eight acres of grassland to the north of the airport which lies in the Rochford district.
Council planners are recommending approval for the plans, even though councillors rejected an almost identical plan a few months ago.
An airport spokesman said: “The land is within the airport boundary, but is non-operational because it is on a flood plain.
“The solar panels would be on frames, lifting them above any flood water and the transformer building would be sited outside the flood plain.”
The Environment Agency objected to the previous application because it would lay on a flood plain, and has submitted a provisional objection this time on the same grounds.
The airport says it commissioned a flood risk specialist to study the impact of the plan on the flood plain and was liaising with the agency to make sure objections over flood risk, water quality and ecological concerns can be overcome.
Airport officials argue it is the only available site for the panels which would not interfere with operations.
The site – previously earmarked for aircraft maintenance hangars – includes protected badger setts, but the airport insist building work would not come within 20m of them The solar farm, which would supply 20 per cent of the airport’s electricity requirements, have been given a “cautious thumbs-up” by one of the airport’s staunchest critics, the Green party.
Jon Fuller, who has campaigned in the past against airport expansion, said: “Where possible, we don’t want solar panels placed on argricultural land. We’d rather see them on buildings and roofs.
“However, the idea of a business deploying renewable energy is a good thing, and if they are going to be elevated from the flood plain, it could be a positive addition to the airport.
“I would give it a cautious thumbs-up.”
Rochford’s planning committee is due to vote on the application – on Thursday.
Rochford Council head of planning Shaun Scrutton said: “There was concern with the first application about technical issues and the fact the site was within a flood plain.
“The new solar farm is to be located within the airport boundary, but not on land which is currently in use, and the applicant has worked with the council to overcome the concerns with the original proposal.
“The application is good news for the airport operating company, as the energy requirements for the airport will now be augmented by clean, solar energy.”
Information on the subsidies available to developers of solar farms here
….”However, solar farm projects will still be eligible for support through the new Contract for Difference (CfD) regime, which guarantees energy prices for clean energy generators, while the consultation also promises “grace period” arrangements for solar farms that are already in the pipeline that may allow a handful of projects to still access the RO.” …
Other solar farms at airports:
World’s largest solar farm complete at Indianapolis airport
With the second phase of an expansion now complete, the solar farm more than doubled in size and boasts 76,000 photovoltaic solar panels, according to a news release. The second phase of the project added 32,100 sun-tracking panels that will produce more than 15.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, the release states.
The 75-acre facility at the airport before the expansion already was the largest airport solar farm in the nation.
“The airport could not be more thrilled to have the largest airport-based solar farm right here in our growing city of Indianapolis,” Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, said in prepared remarks. “The Solar Farm not only enhances our environmentally friendly and energy-efficient terminal campus, but also played a huge role in our recent recognition of being named one of America’s greenest airports.”
The expanded portion of the solar farm creates enough energy to power more than 1,410 average American homes for a year, the release states.
Indianapolis Power & Light Co. buys the solar farm’s power, which costs three to four times the price for which IPL can sell it, officials have said. The utility has subsidized the difference by raising rates to its customers. The increase in electric bills to subsidize the solar farm amounts to several cents a month on the average customer bill. Solar farms also benefit from federal tax credits.
The solar farm has required about a dozen employees to operate. It is owned and operated by a Taiwanese company, General Energy Solutions, which has U.S. offices in California.
“It is an iconic structure that symbolizes how renewable energy in this country is affordable and reliable,” Kurt Schneider, vice president of Johnson Melloh Solutions, said in a statement. “JMS is proud of the teamwork displayed by IND and IPL that made this green project such a great success.
“Our hope is that many visitors from other states and countries fly into IND and realize after passing the solar farm that Indiana is both a great place to live and a progressive community for thriving new businesses.”
Airport warns over dangers of solar farm
A proposed solar farm under the northern landing approach to Canberra Airport will temporarily blind pilots of incoming planes, says the airport.
Chattanooga Airport’s solar farm is a staple in the airport’s green initiative. The three-phase project launched in 2011, and has reached the second phase of its development. The solar farm was expanded in the summer of 2013, increasing its annual onsite clean power generation from one megawatt to 2.1 megawatts.
The solar farm is located on the southwest corner of the airfield, in an area unusable for aviation purposes. However, it was the perfect location for a solar farm. Phase I, a one megawatt solar farm, consists of 3,948 solar panels with 60 cells each, generating 255 watts per panel. Phase II, a 1.1 megawatt solar farm, added 3,542 panels with 72 cells each, generating 310 watts per panel. The two phases together produce approximately 85 percent of the airport’s energy needs.
The vision for the solar farm, as developed by the Airport Authority, is to have a three megawatt solar farm on the airfield. Once the Chattanooga Airport reaches this goal, it will be energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral.
The solar farm was funded through a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) Grant. VALE Grants are air quality grants issued to airports that are in non-attainment or maintenance areas. Chattanooga is in a non-attainment area for Particulate Matter 2.5, making it eligible for air quality grant funding.
To learn more about how solar energy works and to see how much energy our solar farm is producing, please go to http://live.deckmonitoring.com/?id=chattanooga_airport.
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