The new solar array atop Terminal 2-Humphrey’s Purple parking ramp at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) became operational recently and can provide 1.3 megawatts direct current of power to serve the airport.
When joined with the power from the existing 3-megawatt solar array on top of two Terminal 1 parking ramps and LED lighting retrofits in all airport parking ramps, the Terminal 2 project helps the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) replace nearly 10 percent of the MSP campus’ total annual electricity usage that otherwise would come from Xcel Energy.The Terminal 2 solar array also reduces 2,651 metric tons annually of carbon dioxide based on Xcel Energy’s Midwest generating emissions reporting. At Terminal 1, the solar generation and the energy reduction due to LED lighting reduced carbon dioxide by 4,400 metric tons in 2016.
Together, the solar arrays on the two parking ramps are also the largest structure-mounted solar array in Minnesota.
“We’re proud to embrace a renewable source for more of our energy needs,” said Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the MAC, which owns and operates MSP. “The solar panels at Terminal 2 are another sign of the MAC’s commitment to sustainable practices across the breadth of our operations.”
The Terminal 2 solar array includes 3,130 south-facing solar panels. Any excess energy generated is pushed onto the electrical grid operated by Xcel Energy, and gets credited toward MSP’s electrical bill.
At Terminal 2, the new solar array and LED lights installed in the Terminal 2 parking complex together are helping the MAC replace 21 percent of that terminal and parking ramp’s annual electricity usage from the electrical grid.Terminal 2's solar array continues the airport's focus on "Investing in Airport Innovation," which is a pillar of its Sustainability Management Plan.
The project was developed by Massachusetts-based Ameresco, a provider of renewable energy solutions in North America and Europe. Ameresco provides a 20-year guarantee on the solar array, along with operational and maintenance services.
Brian Cunningham, a senior project manager at Ameresco, said the Terminal 2 solar array’s construction presented challenges due to its location atop a public parking ramp. “We are very pleased with how it turned out,” he said.
The solar array at Terminal 2 is also reducing the airport’s electrical charges. When combined with Terminal 2’s LED lighting, the solar array will provide an estimated $400,000 in avoided charges from Xcel Energy, based on recent averages of electrical use.Those avoided costs will increase over the expected 30-year life of the installation as Xcel’s electricity rates increase.
The new solar array will also help MSP continue its carbon dioxide reductions. At Terminal 1, the solar generation and the energy reduction due to LED lighting reduced carbon dioxide by 4,400 metric tons in 2016.
The new solar array at Terminal 2 comes online as passenger numbers there continue to grow. Terminal 2 served 4.4 million passengers in 2016, an 8.7 percent increase over 2015.