Denver International Airport’s fourth solar array is now on-line, bringing the airport’s total solar-generating capacity to 10 MW.

Photo courtesy of DIA
The new solar array can offset an estimated 2,200 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions per year.

The Solar IV array is located on the north side of DIA’s property and can generate up to 2 MW, or 3.1 million kW-hours of solar electricity annually. The array has the capacity to offset an estimated 2,200 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions each year and generate enough electricity to power about 500 typical Denver residences.

The developer for the Solar IV project is Oak Leaf Energy Partners. The project cost of about $6 million will be paid for by the owners, Denver Solar IV LLC. DIA will buy the electricity generated by the array over a 20-year period at a cost per kW-hour that is less than the average cost DIA pays to Xcel Energy for electricity.

Some of the electricity generated by Solar IV will be used directly at DIA, while excess electricity will be sold to Xcel Energy’s grid. The electricity used at the airport will power the Denver Fire Department’s Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Training Academy.

Constructed in 2001, this state-of-the-art facility includes an 80-ft aircraft live-fire training simulator and two actual regional aircraft for training in numerous types of emergency scenarios. The array will provide 100% of the facility’s electricity needs.

With the addition of Solar IV, DIA’s four solar arrays now have the capacity to generate 10 MW, or 16 million kW-hours of electricity. That’s enough electricity to power about 2,595 typical Denver-area homes each year. The arrays also have the capacity to offset up to 11,465 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions each year. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that’s the equivalent CO2 emissions of:

• 2,414 passenger vehicles annually

• 1,290,087 gal. of gasoline consumed

• 12,314,715 pounds of coal burned

• 26,663 barrels of oil consumed

“DIA was designed to maximize sustainability, and we have embraced and expanded that legacy over the last 19 years,” said airport CEO Kim Day. “We continue to invest in initiatives that reduce our carbon footprint and preserve the natural assets of Colorado. Most significant is our investment in green initiatives that are financially viable, which assures their perpetuity, even in times of economic downturn.”

DIA has long been at the forefront of developing on-airport solar opportunities, having installed its first solar array in 2008. Solar II came online in 2009, followed by Solar III in 2011. The airport now has a total of 42,358 individual solar panels spread across 55 acres of solar fields, making it the second-largest solar array at any U.S. airport.