Published on December 7th, 2011 | by Glenn Meyers0
Chicago-Rockford International Airport to Build 20-MW Solar Array
December 7th, 2011 by Glenn Meyers
A renewable energy joint venture has received environmental approvals from the DoE and FAA to proceed forward with construction of America’s largest commercial airport solar farm.
The 20-megawatt solar farm will be built on 70 acres at Chicago-Rockford Solar Partners, LLC, comprised of Elgin-based Wanxiang America and Chicago-based New Generation Power.
Wanxiang America will supply the photovoltaic solar panels from its new Rockford-based solar panel assembly plant. This facility has a solar module production capacity of 30MW per year. Panel production is well underway and Wanxiang will ramp up jobs and production as the project expands.
Project backers believe the airport solar project will create hundreds of construction, manufacturing and maintenance jobs in Rockford.
Ameren Illinois has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Rockford Solar Partners to acquire the energy and all renewable attributes from the project as part of the Illinois Power Agency’s long-term renewable energy procurement program.
“We praise the City of Rockford and the Greater Rockford Airport Authority for their vision in the adoption of solar energy and being the catalyst for green power in Illinois,” said New Generation Power president Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria in a press announcement.
Rockford Solar Partners has committed to scale up the project to 62 megawatts to help meet the demands of the Illinois solar renewable portfolio standard, which projects 6 percent solar by 2015. The project provides Rockford with one of the largest solar farms in the United States.
Initial funding for this project came from a $4 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The launch grant, believed to equal slightly over 3 percent of the project’s total cost, will be supplemented by added non-governmental funding.
New Generation Power, headquartered in Chicago, develops solar PV, solar thermal, waste to energy, biomass, hydro, and wind projects and develops electric distribution at utility scale throughout the U.S. and globally. Wanxiang America Corp. is the U.S. subsidiary of Wanxiang Group Companies, one of the largest companies in China with $13 billion in revenues and 45,000 employees.