Indianapolis Airport Solar Farm Halfway Complete

Once the second phase is complete, the Indianapolis International Airport's solar farm will consist of 88,000 solar panels.

  • Airplane & Panels

    Image 1 of 3

    Photo: Alex Dierckman WTIU/WFIU

    The panels are built on land that the airport couldn't use because of height restrictions for areas around the runways.

  • Indianapolis Solar Farm

    Image 2 of 3

    Photo: Alex Dierckman WTIU/WFIU

    Phase 1 of the solar farm features 44,000 solar panels.

  • Phases 1 & 2

    Image 3 of 3

    Photo: Alex Dierckman WTIU/WFIU

    This diagram features both phases of the solar farm project. Phase 1 is complete, phase two is slated to be completed by summer 2014.

The Indianapolis International Airport is celebrating the completion of the first phase of its solar energy project.

Energy company and Indianapolis city officials gathered today to commission the first phase of the solar farm, which consists of 44,0000 solar panels.

Another 44,000 panels will be added to create the largest solar field on a North American airport property. Once the second phase of the project is complete, it will create enough energy to power 3,600 homes per year.

Indianapolis Power and Light is purchasing the energy and is feeding it into its grid to sell to customers.

But the sun doesn’t always shine.

IPL director of marketing Brad Riley says peak energy consumption hours are in the late afternoon and evening, when the sun is going down.

“It’s a delicate balance with utility companies to make sure that we have base load generation, whether that with coal or natural gas to make sure that that’s there 24/7 for our customers,” he says. ”And then use some of these renewable energy projects to kind-of supplement what our generation mix is.”

Johnson Melloh Solutions is the company in charge of building the solar farm.

John Melloh Solutions Partner Kurt Schneider says the project is creating jobs, and the land will serve as a tax base.

“The airport wins from actually using land that they would never be able to use for anything else but hay and farming,” he says. ”That’s a very nominal fee. So it’s not very many times where you can generate economic benefit and win, win, win.”

The project is still waiting for approvals from the FAA, but it is expected to be completed by next summer.

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