Denver International unveils a public-private partnership funded two megawatt solar energy system
Installation of solar array at Denver International Airport (photo: DIA)
Thu 28 Aug 2008 – A two megawatt solar energy system situated on a 7.5 acre (3ha) site just south of the Jeppesen Terminal at Denver International Airport (DIA) has been dedicated by the city’s mayor, the airport’s aviation manager and four private companies involved with the project. The system will generate over three million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year and enable the airport to reduce its annual carbon emissions by an estimated five million pounds (2,268 tonnes).
MMA Renewable Ventures, which owns and operates the system, joined with WorldWater and DIA to develop a public-private partnership, leveraging tax credits and incentives to finance the project. The partnership enabled the City of Denver and DIA to deploy the solar array under a long-term contract or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Designed and installed by WorldWater, using more than 9,200 Sharp solar panels, the new ground-mounted photovoltaic solar array employs a single-axis tracking system that follows the sun during the day for greater efficiency and energy production.
The amount of electricity generated is about half of the power required annually to operate the airport’s people-mover train system and the electricity will be bought by DIA at a set rate.
“By securing power through a PPA rather than as a major capital investment, DIA will benefit from a renewable energy system that is cost-effective from its very first day of operation, and for years to come,” commented Matt Cheney, CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures. “Our collaborative effort serves as an example of how successful public-private partnerships can help municipal facilities make the most of tax credits and other incentives available for solar energy.”
The project is part of the Xcel Energy Solar Rewards programme and will receive a rebate to offset the upfront construction costs. Xcel Energy will purchase the renewable energy credits from the clean electricity produced in support of Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard, which requires large utilities to generate 20% of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Denver International is one of three US airports to be accepted into the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Performance Track programme, and has developed an Environmental Management System certified to ISO 14001:2004 standard.
“DIA has a long-standing commitment to sustainable operations and environmental protection,” said Kim Day, DIA’s Aviation Manager. “This project makes a visible environmental statement to the millions of passengers that travel through our airport.”