Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Power

Yes, Airports Should Be Covered With Solar Farms & Large Rooftop Solar Systems

WIRED had an article the other day that caught my eye. The headline posed the question of whether we ought to “turn airports into giant solar farms.”

Of course we should!

Some airports have plastered their roofs with solar panels or installed solar farms on their abundant green space. However, that’s still a tiny percentage of the world’s airports, and there’s an enormous amount of potential sitting there and waiting to be tapped at airports around the globe.

Airports generally have two things that are ideal for solar power systems: 1) large, wide open areas with minimal tree cover that won’t be in the shadow of skyscrapers any time soon, or ever; and 2) large, flat roofs. Either of these can easily be home to hundreds or thousands of solar panels.

The WIRED article was jumping off of a new study in Australia. The scientific paper is being published in the Journal of Building Engineering‘s September 2021 edition, but you can actually go ahead and read it already here. In particular, the study examined the rooftop solar potential of 21 Leased Federal Airports (LFAs) in Australia. The basic conclusion: yes, it makes a lot of sense — in every regard — to put a bunch of solar panels at airports. A couple of the more specific findings included:

  • Large-scale rooftop solar PV systems at these 21 airports could generate 466.68 GWh of electricity a year.
  • That’s almost 10 times more electricity than is generated from 17,000 rooftop solar PV systems in the area, solar PV systems installed on homes in the City of Greater Bendigo — enough electricity for ~136,000 homes in Australia.

This study ignores the potential sitting there on the airport land (not on roofs), and it just looks at those 21 airports in Australia, not more broadly at airports around the world.

Naturally, there are some special concerns for solar power at airports. Too much reflective glare is dangerous. There’s the risk of attracting birds and wildlife to the area, which are not a good mix for high-power, high-flying airplanes. “However, there are studies and documentations or guidelines on how to properly combat these risks such as the United States Federal Aviation Administration’s Technical Guidance for Evaluating Selected Solar Technologies on Airports are also helpful in solar airports,” the report authors write. There’s coating that can be applied to solar panels to get rid of the glare, for example.

Overall, there’s enormous untapped potential for electricity generation on airport roofs and in airport fields and open spaces. With just a little bit of effort and planning, enough electricity could be generated at airports for millions of people.

Related story: Solar Power = “Cheapest Electricity In History”

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


You May Also Like


As at the end of December 2022, there were over 27 million EVs cumulatively sold around the world over the past decade or so...

Clean Power

Australia's Allume Energy has the world's only technology capable of sharing rooftop solar with multiple units in residential apartment buildings.


Was Australia ready for Fully Charged? Mixed reactions are coming from people who attended Robert Llewellyn’s first foray into Australia — Fully Charged Sydney....

Clean Power

One of the lessons that countries are learning from the current war in Ukraine is that centralised power generation creates energy vulnerability, and therefore...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.