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ENVIRONMENT Last modified on April 17, 2016

Going Green

Spotlight on Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport’s solar energy project and the introduction of biofuel at Oslo Airport.

MSP powers up Minnesota’s largest solar energy project

A three-megawatt solar installation on the top deck of two parking structures at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport’s Terminal 1 is the largest solar generation site in the state of Minnesota.

The first-of-its-kind airport project also involved converting more than 7,700 metal halide light fixtures in all four parking ramps to energy-saving LED technology. While four additional electric vehicle charging stations were installed in the ramps, bringing the total number of MSP charging stations to 18. It is estimated that the installation will generate close to 20% of the airport’s total peak power capacity.

“The Metropolitan Airports Commission has worked for decades to operate Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport as sustainably as possible, investing millions in infrastructure to reduce impacts to soil, water and air quality, and spending nearly a half-billion dollars on noise mitigation around MSP,” says executive director and CEO, Jeff Hamiel.

“This solar project is a major step forward in the use of renewable energy at MSP International Airport.”

Ameresco, a leading energy efficiency and renewable energy company, developed the solar infrastructure and LED lighting upgrade. It will also maintain and operate the system on behalf of the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

Enthuses Ameresco’s president and chief executive, George Sakellaris: “We commend MSP and applaud its leadership team for its stewardship both in pursuing renewable energy solutions for the airport as well as obtaining public-private financing to support the construction. 

“Ameresco is honoured to be a sustainability partner in this innovative project, and we take pride in contributing to local job creation as part of achieving energy savings and sustainability.” 

It is predicted that the solar array will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6,813 metric tons annually – the equivalent of taking 1,434 passengers off the road in one year.


Biofuel on sale at Oslo Airport

Oslo Airport has became the first airport in the world to start offering biofuel to its airline customers, the pioneering initiative being described by Norway’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, as a “red letter day for international aviation”.

Air BP is the supplier of the jet biofuel and Lufthansa Group, SAS and KLM have already signed agreements to purchase the fuel.

Avinor and Air BP are convinced that this represents the start of a trend toward making jet biofuel an interesting commercial option worldwide. 

“Norway is committed to the transition to a low-emission society.

I am pleased that the aviation sector wants to participate in this adjustment, as evidenced by this initiative,” enthuses the country’s Minister of Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen. 

“Biofuel is one of the few alternatives we have at our disposal today that can help achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, provided that the biofuel is produced in a sustainable manner.”

David Gilmour, CEO for Air BP, noted: “This is the first time jet biofuel is being delivered through the normal supply mechanism, thus reducing logistics costs significantly. 

“We want to demonstrate that airports can readily access biofuel with relative ease, utilising existing physical infrastructure.”

The Lufthansa Group was first to confirm its participation in the project. SAS and KLM were also quick to indicate their willingness to pay extra to ensure that jet biofuel could be offered at Oslo Airport.

According to Avinor, the hope is that more airlines will join them in the not too distant future. 

As an incentive to sign up, all airlines taking part in the initiative are rewarded with lower CO2 taxes on domestic flights in Norway. Biofuel is also exempted from the EU quota system. 

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