Solar power’s need for large open spaces is one of the primary criticisms of this tremendous source of renewable energy. “The next time you’re staring out a plane window during takeoff or landing, give the airport a scan. You’ll see hangars and other support buildings and, of course, the terminal. But mostly, you’ll see lots of empty space. Airplanes, as many aeronautical engineers have noted, like open spaces—for obvious reasons, including not getting along with trees.”
Most, if not all, large airports are blessed with square miles of open space. In addition, large buildings and sprawling parking facilities grace the majority of these facilities. Applying solar generation to these spaces and surfaces is not a far-fetched idea. Already in the United States, solar generation is up and running. Large airports in Tucson, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Honolulu, Chattanooga, Tampa, Denver, and Indianapolis are harnessing the clean and potent sun’s rays right not. The Indianapolis array alone generates one-fourth the power as Juneau’s local Snettisham facility south of town!
At the local level, Juneau’s airport facilities feature many large south facing roofs, with a dozen or more large buildings and hangers ready for panels. Heck…there are ‘solarize’ programs running strong in both Anchorage and Fairbanks with dozens of residential solar installations taking place. Why not solar here in Juneau? Sure, we have many cloudy days, but long days provide more power than short days, and even when cloudy, solar panels continue to generate, albeit at a lesser level. The point? There is no silver bullet to our energy and climate concerns. We’ve got a whole wild west bandolier of options to put into place. Solar in Juneau may just be one of them, and the airport may be a good place to start.