Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FYI), the major air transportation center for the City of Fresno, California, and the San Joaquin Valley, along with WorldWater & Solar Technologies Corp., held a dedication ceremony July 16 in celebration of the official opening of the largest solar airport installation in the United States.
"The solar system will provide an impressive 40 percent of the power supply required to run the day to day needs of the airport such as lighting, air conditioning, controls and tower communications," says Russ Widmar, Fresno Aviation Director. "Using renewable solar energy will decrease overhead costs and improve the financial performance of our operations. In addition, the solar installation has been constructed on land located near our runways that up until now was unusable. We hope that other airports will follow our lead by turning to solar power."
Speakers at the event included Fresno Mayor Alan Autry; Fresno Aviation Director Russ Widmar; Frank Smith, CEO, WorldWater & Solar Technologies; and Greg Pruett, Senior VP of Corporate Relations, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).
"This event is a milestone marking the increased popularity of solar as a viable source of alternative energy, particularly now as the cost for fuel and electricity continues to rise to unprecedented levels," says Frank Smith, CEO, WorldWater & Solar Technologies. "We provided Fresno with a 2-megawatt, ground-mounted solar system spanning 9.5 acres, or the equivalent of seven football fields. The project is expected to save the airport about $13 million dollars over the next 20 years."
WorldWater & Solar is also currently constructing a 2-megawatt solar system for Denver International Airport (DIA). The solar installation at DIA will supply 3.5 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually for the airport and is also valued at over $13 million. The system will generate the equivalent of half the energy needs for the underground trains that move people between the airport's concourses, and will eliminate more than 5 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the air every year for a minimum of 25 years. The ground mounted arrays will be located at the entrance to DIA's main terminal on approximately 7.5 acres, and will utilize a state-of-the-art single-axis tracking system that follows the sun throughout the day for greater efficiency and energy production.
Partners in the Fresno project include Sharp Solar, which supplied the panels for the project; Xantrex Technology Inc., which provided the inverters; and Solar Power Partners of Mill Valley, CA which will operate and manage the system and will oversee the sale of the solar generated power to the airport through a long-term Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA. The PPA financing structure has enabled the airport to embrace solar energy without any capital expense. In addition, PG&E, the local electric utility, will manage the net-metering connection with the grid. PG&E is also the administrator of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) incentive program.
"This installation will help protect the environment with a major alternative energy resource," said Al Galvez, PG&E Manager of Fresno Government and Community Relations. "We also believe that this will help build momentum at the national level for sound renewable energy policies that will surely be discussed in the months ahead."