Hartsfield-Jackson installs first solar array

1:49 p.m Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 Business
Solar panel. Source: SunPower

Hartsfield-Jackson International has built its first solar array, on top of a building in the airport’s new taxi hold lot.

On the roof of the new taxicab “bullpen” building are 250 individual photo-voltaic panels, each 327 watts. The Sunpower E series solar panels cover about 4,500 square feet.

The airport said it expects the panels to generate about 100,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, which will be used to help power the taxi hold lot facility. Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Andrew Gobeil said the solar project cost $20,000.

It’s part of a broader plan by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to make Hartsfield-Jackson “one of the greenest airports in the world.”

The taxicab bullpen is being relocated to make way for a planned hotel and commercial development next to the terminal.

That project to build a new InterContinental hotel steps away the terminal will require the relocation of some parking, limo and shuttle staging areas, the taxi hold lot and other facilities. The new taxicab bullpen will open in the next few weeks.

One of the common issues confronted by airports seeking to install solar panels is the potential for glare, depending on the location relative to flight paths. Glare can cause temporary loss of vision to pilots.

“While offering benefits, solar energy introduces some new and unforeseen issues,” including possible reflectivity, according to a Federal Aviation Administration document. The FAA gives guidance to airports for reviews of solar projects. A number of other airports around the country have already installed solar panels.

For the Atlanta airport solar project on the taxi bullpen building, “a glare study was performed and no impact to operations was found,” according to Gobeil. The FAA also did a communication systems evaluation and did not object to the solar project.

Airport officials have for years pursued solar projects, but an earlier planned project was put on hold because the airport procurement process would have taken too long to meet to a Georgia Power program deadline.

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