Solar Farm at Indianapolis International Airport02.11.2013 | HMMH |
by Steve Barrett
One of the largest solar farms at an airport in the world is being proposed at Indianapolis International Airport. A recent news story publicized the project. The project, however, has been in the works for a few years and will likely be implemented in several phases. Recent news is primarily related to the start of construction on Phase I which is proposed in the southwest area of the airport near the I-70 interchange. In the summer of 2010 when the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) was considering the solar opportunity presented by the local utility and private developers, IAA engaged HMMH to assess the potential impacts of the proposed project on airspace safety. HMMH completed a study of reflectivity, communications systems interference, and physical obstruction with Part 77 surfaces. Due to the project’s location southwest of the air traffic control tower, no glare impacts were predicted. Based in part on our analysis, IAA proceeded with a procurement process to select a private developer who would lease airport land and own and operate the solar farm. HMMH was also engaged by the project developer to conduct a more detailed analysis on impacts from a modified design on both the control tower and arriving aircraft. The IAA filed a Form 7460 with the FAA and FAA issued a determination of no hazard in the summer of 2012. HMMH has subsequently been engaged by IAA to evaluate the Phase II location. The Indianapolis Airport Solar Farm is a great example of the potential financial benefits available to airports in leasing underutilized lands for renewable energy development.