The end result of an ambitious project that started nine years ago (in 2011), the airport’s 2.64-megawatt solar farm was completed with about $5 million of funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. According to a press release, the installation measures about the size of 16 football fields—eight long and two wide.
According to Bloomberg, Chattanooga Airport’s solar farm saves energy via storage units that allow operations to continue after sundown. The publication also reports that the system is expected to last between 30 and 40 years.
The three phases of the solar project took place in 2011, 2012 and 2018, with full completion in April 2019. The solar system is comprised of three individual arrays installed in succession at the western end of the airport, each using different solar components in what was previously undeveloped land running parallel to the runways.
Phase 1 of the solar system, totaling 1 MW, uses Suniva panels, Solar FlexRack fixed-tilt racking and two Advanced Energy central inverters. Phase 2 at 1.1 MW also uses Suniva panels and Advanced Energy inverters but instead has RBI Solar fixed-tilt racking. Phase 3 uses 72-cell Heliene panels, RBI fixed-tilt racking and eight Solectria string inverters, totaling 641 kW of output.
Globally, Chattanooga Airport joins the likes of South Africa’s George Airport, The Galapagos’ Seymour Airport, and most impressively, India’s Cochin International Airport, which became the world’s first solar-powered airport back in 2015.
According to forbes.com and solarpowerworldonline.com