Big solar energy installations of triple-digit megawatt capacity are finding new locations on the grounds of U.S. airports.
Kansas City, Mo., officals are set to approve at Kansas City International Airport (KCI) a system that developers say coud generate up to 500 MW of power—the largest yet at an American airport. Under a proposal approved Sept. 13 by the council’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee, a consortium led by regional electric utility Evergy will develop the KCI solar farm, beginning with an initial 35-MW, 136-acre array that is set to begin construction as early as the first half of 2025.
No timetable has been set for the project's second phase, which calls for an additional 246 MW of generating capacity located on approximately 1,800 acres.
In return for leasing airport land for the installation, the city will receive up to $300,000 annually. Known as the 816 Solar Consortium, the largely local development group includes engineering consultant Burns & McDonnell and transportation contractor Herzog.
Kansas City officials commissioned a feasibility study in 2020 to determine the potential size of a solar energy project on undeveloped land at the airport, which in February 2023 opened a new 40-gate, $1.5-billion terminal.
The study identified more than 3,100 acres of vacant land as suitable for a solar farm. Five development teams submitted proposals, with the city electing to pursue negotiations with the 816 Solar Consortium in August.
Also, in northern Virginia, Dominion Energy and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority have teamed to develop the Dulles Solar and Storage project, which could generate up to 100 MW of solar energy and store up to 50 MW when it finishes in 2026 at Dulles International Airport in Loudoun and Fairfax counties.
Set to be built by Black & Veatch on 835 acres, the project includes a first-of-its-kind lease agreement to further advance renewables and electric vehicles at Dulles.
Instead of annual lease payments to the authority, Dominion will develop two 1-MW solar carports to partially power Dulles facilities and provide electric transit buses, fleet vehicles and charging stations for its operations.
The project is part of Dominion’s program to add 16,000 MW of solar capacity by 2035.
Smaller solar arrays are located at Denver International Airport and Indianapolis International Airport.