Newcastle International Airport wants to embark on a 12 year programme to add as much as 16 MWp of ground mounted solar generation on land close to its runway. Completed by 2035, the PV farm is designed to meet 100% of the airport’s power.
Handling 5.2 million passengers a year, and majority-owned by the city council, Newcastle International is the second busiest hub in the north of England, and the eleventh busiest in the UK.
The Tyneside airport this week opened a consultation on its solar ambitions with residents, users and stakeholders, before filing an application in September to the city’s planners. Four phases of build out are contemplated.
EU money, in the form of the England European Regional Development Fund, has been secured to meet capex costs for any first phase.
Airport chief executive Nick Jones explained: “The solar farm is a key part of our Net Zero strategy, allowing us to contribute to the government’s Net Zero objectives and the City of Newcastle’s Carbon Net Zero 2030 strategy.”
Seemingly a naturally candidate for wide, unshaded areas close to high-demand terminals and power-hungry maintenance workshops and warehouses, glare-free ground mounted PV has made surprisingly slow advances among Britain’s perhaps excessively cautious airports.
Municipally-owned Newquay with 5MWp of solar, London Southend with 2.5MWp, and Peel’s Liverpool John Lennon and Doncaster-Sheffield all have significant ground-mounted installations. Belfast International’s 4.8 MW facility a mile offsite was developed by what is now bp Lightsource.
European hubs with significant ground mount PV include Brussels, Schipol, Grenoble and Athens. Indianapolis has the US’s largest airport PV park, its 20MWp covering two sites within the perimeter.
Dwarfing them all is privately run Neu Hardenburg airfield, its mammoth 145MWp of ground arrays marking it out as Europe’s largest solar park. Converted by a Danish developer from an East German forward fighter base 50 km from Berlin, the field is essentially a single landing strip surrounded by 86 acres of ground mounted solar arrays.