Solar-Powered Airports Use Copper to Provide a New Energy Source

Solar-Powered Airports Use Copper to Provide a New Energy Source
16 Nov 2016

By Zolaikha Strong, Director of Sustainable Energy for the Copper Development Association (CDA)

Airports provide a unique opportunity to take advantage of the growing solar energy trend. The vast amounts of land surrounding airports and runways cannot be used for other purposes but offer the perfect space for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Similarly, the large roofs of airport terminals can be prime real estate for these solar panels. These renewable energy sources can provide the airport or surrounding cities with clean, sustainable energy.


The Copper Development Association (CDA) recently published a new case study, Solar Energy Lifts Off at Airports Around the Globe, examining the rise of solar PV systems at airports worldwide and its potential impact on copper usage. Solar energy technology uses between three to six tons of copper for every megawatt of energy generated. Copper’s durability and efficiency keep these systems running reliably and at higher efficiencies.

The case study highlights numerous airports around the world that have already installed solar energy systems:

  • A 6-MWp (megawatt power) solar array installed on the former Palmer Metropolitan Airfield
  • A 3-MWp solar PV project at San Diego International Airport that will expand to provide 10 to 13 percent of the airport’s power
  • A 3-MWp solar plant at Antigua International Airport that meets most of the airport’s electricity needs
  • A 12 MWp installation on the land surrounding Cochin International Airport in India and a 1.1 MWp PV plant on the rooftop of one of its terminals that produce enough solar energy each year to completely meet the airport’s power requirements.

As the market for solar energy continues to expand, airports and airfields around the world are ideal choices for installation. The copper used in these systems is not consumed, but is a reusable resource that can be recycled after the life cycle of the solar technology.

For more information on copper’s use in renewable energy systems, visit or follow @CopperEnergy on Twitter.

Photos courtesy of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.


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