Renewable energy is becoming increasingly popular in major airports around the world. Solar power is one of the most popular renewable energy sources. Gatwick Airport, Birmingham Airport, and Cochin (Kochi) International are some of the large airports which have embraced the use of solar power as an alternative source of energy (De Mestral, Fitzgerald, & Ahmad, 2017). In the United States, many airports have initiated major solar projects as a way of diversifying their sources of energy and reducing their reliance on the energy in the national grid.
Boston Logan International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Jefferson County International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport are some of the major airports that have completed or are still undertaking the installation of solar power (Karakoc et al., 2016). The huge investment made by these institutions indicates that solar energy is becoming one of the most preferred sources of power. In this paper, it is important to discuss the benefits of solar power at airports.
One of the advantages of solar energy is the reduced cost of operation. According to Heinberg (2016), many major airports incur heavy monthly expenses in terms of electricity bills. These airports have to be properly lit throughout the night to remain operational. In cases of power outage, they have to rely on huge power generators that use petrol or diesel to generate energy. Such costs are eliminated when an airport uses solar power.
Other than the initial cost of operation and the maintenance fee, solar energy has no cost. Reduced cost of operation makes it possible for the management to direct more resources to research and development. Such airports will remain competitive in the industry when the costs of their operations are reduced. They can lower fees levied on aircrafts, which would attract more airlines to using the route.
Solar energy is a clean power that poses minimal threat to the environment. According to Karakoç, Colpan, and Şöhret (2017), air transport is one of the leading industries responsible for generation of greenhouse gases. When an airport has to use fossil fuel-powered generators as a back-up energy system, it leads to increased degradation of the environment. Other than air pollution, petrol or diesel may also spill during its transportation or use. The spilled oil would lead to land pollution. When it is swept by rainwater to a river or lake, it leads to water pollution, endangering lives of animals that live in water. However, solar energy promises a clean energy that has no significant impact on the environment.
The use of solar energy promotes innovation within an airport. The concept in itself is an innovative one that focuses on lowering the cost of operation and protecting the environment. Mathur (2014) argues that innovation is a process. When a management unit makes the first step of supporting the use of solar power, it will likely support other future initiatives that promise to improve efficiency.
The reduced cost and the ability to operate without endangering the environment will convince the management that they need to embrace more innovative ideas. Despite these benefits, De Mestral et al. (2017) warn that solar energy should be used responsibly. When an airport is capable of producing more energy than what it needs, it can sell the excess energy to the national grid. It means that solar energy can be an alternative source of income.
De Mestral, M.C., Fitzgerald, P. P., & Ahmad, T. M. (Eds.). (2017). Sustainable development, international aviation, and treaty implementation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Heinberg, R. (2016). Our renewable future: Laying the path for 100% clean energy. Washington, DC: Island Press.
Karakoc, H. T., Ozerdem, B. M., Sogut, Z. M., Colpan, C. O., Altuntas, O., & Açıkkalp, E. (Eds.). (2016). Sustainable aviation: Energy and environmental issues. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
Karakoç, T. H., Colpan, C. O., & Şöhret, Y. (Eds.). (2017). Advances in sustainable aviation. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
Mathur, S. (2014). Trade, the WTO and energy security: Mapping the linkages for India. New Delhi, India: Springer.