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Chattanooga airport to be the first 100% solar-powered airport in America!

Posted on Sept. 5, 2019 by Sanghamitra Sinha

The Chattanooga airport located in Tennessee created a benchmark in the US logbook by becoming the first airport in history to operate fully on renewable energy. Tennessee's fourth-largest city is highlighted in entire North America due to its green and clean initiatives practiced to vitalize its airport economic efficiency. “ "This is a momentous day for the Chattanooga Airport as we complete our solar farm and achieve a major sustainability milestone",” said Terry Hart, president, and CEO of the Chattanooga Airport. Going back nine years in 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority, together led the foundation to a 2.64-megawatt solar farm project, thriving over 12-acres of land which got completed this month. The lucrative project worth ten million dollars powered the Lovell Field Airport to become the first airfield in the United States powered by 100% solar energy. The much-awaited solar farm is located along Jubilee Drive and is said to cater to the airport's entire energy utility. There are two other eminent project partners TVA and EPB who lend their valuable inputs in bringing the project to life. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB) guided the solar project technically so that it meets the national standards and codes. The Voluntary Airport Low Emission and Energy Efficiency grants blend in with it. “The solar farm is a historic achievement that puts Chattanooga on the map yet again for leading the way on green initiatives. We are proud to be at the helm of sustainability efforts, which make our airport and region attractive to companies aligned with our mission, who also want to do business here.” Lovell Field Airport Authority Chairman Dan Jacobson said. “Renewable energy is a tremendous asset in terms of economic and environmental benefits,” said Doug Perry, TVA vice president of Commercial Energy Solutions. “With more than 50 percent of our generating portfolio carbon-free, we’re excited to help the airport protect the environment as they drive tourism and commerce, both vital to achieving our shared mission of economic prosperity for our community.”

Chattanooga Airport Solar Farm

Chattanooga Airport or Lovell Field Airport is located in the vicinity of Chattanooga in Tennessee. Built-in 1992, this international airport is situated five miles east of downtown Chattanooga, in Hamilton County. The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority owns and operates this class C airport. Gensler, the famous San Francisco architect did its interior designing and it is popularly known as “CHA” because of its airport code. In 1930, in the loving memory of John Lovell, a new Chattanooga Airport opened with an unpaved runway at its present location and was named Lovell Field in his honor. Lovell Field presently comprises of 950 acres (380 ha) land and has two asphalt runways. The Lovell Field airport is often referred to as the "beacon of green light’. A solar farm of 1 megawatt was constructed on the southwest corner of the airfield in 2011. In addition to that, another 1.1 megawatts were added to the solar farm in the summer of 2013. By the end of 2017, the constructed solar farm accounted to provide for nearly 90% of the airport's electricity consumption. The solar farm got augmented in the summer of 2013, increasing its annual on-site clean power generation from one megawatt to 2.1 megawatts. The solar farm is located in an area unusable for aviation purposes, on the southwest corner of the airfield. However, it was perceived as being the perfect location for constructing a solar farm. The project comprises three phases. Phase I, is a 1-megawatt solar farm, consists of nearly 4,000 solar panels with 60 cells each, generating 255 watts per panel. Phase II, is a 1.1-megawatt solar farm, consisting of 3,550 panels with 72 cells each, generating 310 watts per panel. As mentioned earlier, the Chattanooga airport solar farm is a million dollar investment project, largely funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and other allies. Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) Grants are issued to airports situated in low-maintenance areas. Chattanooga is evidently in a non-attainment area for Particulate Matter 2.5, making it eligible for air quality grant funding. If expert predictions are to be taken into consideration, that investment is likely to return (or provide greater ROI) in less than 20 years. As a renewable energy stream brings down the facility's overall costs of operation. The solar farm represents the magnitude of nearly 16 football fields eight long and two wide. It took a total time of nine years for the makers to fully furnish its three phases. The amount of electricity produced by solar panels is enough to power 160,000 light bulbs. The airport entails many of the amenities resembling that of large-scale airports to cater to its consumers. Till the second half of 2010, the Airport was home to the 241st Engineering Installation Squadron (241 EIS) of the Tennessee Air National Guard. The Lovell field solar farm makes use of the energy-storage units (that enables it to run-off the grid) to store energy, as those units allow continuous operations even after sundown. The reason behind it is the usage of on-site batteries. Having said that, it is also expected from the solar farm to exist at least 30 to 40 years. Executives of not less than 50 airports paid a visit or contacted the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority to learn in-depth about their solar project and its applications. The inspiring minds behind this project conveyed us their inner feelings. They could assume it that; energy storage is really going to take off in the next few years as the expenses fall downwards. That is why they are preparing wholesome, keeping enough time in hand. So that when the technologies become cost-effective in the market, the executives will have sufficient experience to perceive what to implement and how to implement it.


Chattanooga Airport's solar farm is pivotal in the airport's green initiatives. An ample amount of major airports in the US showed up with something familiar in recent times. Today, nearly 21 airports in the US are partially solar-powered. Chattanooga airport might be the one to run entirely on solar power, but it is not the only one in the entire world. South Africa's George Airport receives about 41 percent of its electricity from a nearby solar farm, and the Galapagos' Seymour Airport runs entirely on wind and solar power. We would like to cite a few other examples with the circumference of the United States. Albuquerque airport with 3 plantations in 2009. Austin airport with 2 plantations in 1998 and 2000. The period between 2008-2014 stood out to be the solar evolution period in the history of the US in terms of solar-airports construction. Boston airport with as many as 5 plantations! Then comes Barnstable, Dallas, and Denver with one or two plantations each. The Garfield County is having an 858 kW solar plantation done in 2011, Oakland county with a 5 kW solar plantation in 2011; and the list is endless

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