Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport recently unveiled a 505-kilowatt solar system, which along with new energy efficient lighting is expected to save the facility nearly $400,000 a year.
The eight-panel solar array installed by Pepco Energy Services is mounted on top of the airport’s nine-story parking garage. The system will produce more than 600,000 kilowatt hours of energy a year, enough to power the parking garage and it two electric car charging stations. The panels cost about $2.5 million. A $500,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration helped fund the project.
The solar panel installation is part of a much larger energy efficiency project at the airport. Two years ago, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $21 million contract with Pepco Energy Services to implement an energy efficiency program for both BWI and the Martin State Airport.
Improvements at BWI include the replacement of more than 40,000 lights in the terminal and garages, the renovation of 64 escalators and moving walkways, and installation of low-flow toilets as well as faucets that use less water. The projects will produce more than $2 million in annual guaranteed energy savings, BWI says.
The improvements are expected to cut annual water use by 11 percent and energy consumption by 17 percent. Annual carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 12,400 metric tons, the equivalent of burning 1.39 million gallons of gasoline.
BWI has joined a growing list of airports that have installed solar systems and energy efficiency improvements in an effort to reduce costs, use less electricity and cut emissions.
The Chicago Department of Aviation announced plans last November for a 60-acre solar panel installation and an alternating fueling station for private and commercial vehicles at O’Hare International Airport. The Indianapolis International Airport plans to build a 10 MW ground-mounted solar array near the end of one of its runways. That installation is expected to generate enough electricity to power 6,000 homes.