Fresh off inking a new lease with the developers of a planned solar farm in Sunnyside, Houston officials hope to produce clean, reliable power on the grounds of the George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Airport officials are asking for proposals involving solar, wind or other clean technologies that can generate 50 megawatts of power – enough for about 10,000 homes on a hot summer day. In its request for ideas, the Houston Airport System highlighted the hundreds of acres of forested green space to the east of John F. Kennedy Boulevard as it approaches the airport.
The project also could involve solar panels hoisted above parking garages and terminals. While plans are at an early stage, officials say they are excited about joining the ranks of airports worldwide with green power facilities.
“You’ve got a lot of different options out there. You’ve got solar, you’ve got wind, you’ve got hydrogen, you’ve got battery power,” Jim Szczesniak, the airport’s chief operating officer, said Wednesday. “We wanted to get this (request for information) out to be able to survey the industry.”
Officials are asking interested companies to put forth proposals for powering Bush airport by Aug. 31. They officially are agnostic about the type of technology that should be used. But they do have a few guidelines: The selected project must start by producing 50 megawatts of electricity with plans to grow to 100 megawatts.
Over the next seven years, terminal renovations and expansions, electric rental cars and, potentially, electric airplanes will lead to growing demand on the airport grid, officials say.
“We’re trying to make sure that it’s scalable, because of the fact that we know there’s growth coming forward,” Szczesniak said.
Szczesniak said the next step after the initial call for ideas will be to put out a more formal request for bids. It is possible the airport pursues multiple projects with different technologies, he said.
If Houston settles on solar, it would join many other airports. As of 2020, about 20 percent of public airports had adopted solar power over the past decade, according to a study from the University of Colorado Denver. There already is a solar canopy atop the red garage at the William P. Hobby Airport that is slated to generate 1 megawatt of power.
See here and here for more on the Sunnyside solar farm. Honestly, I think the city and Harris County should be aggressively pursuing this kind of development anywhere it might make sense. It’s a good investment, it’s a hedge against grid failures, and it will help fight climate change. A win all around. There’s a lot more to the story, which is from a few weeks ago and had been sitting in my drafts, so go read the rest.