Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to House Minnesota’s Largest Solar Generation Facility

Construction has begun on the largest solar energy project in the state of Minnesota, a three-megawatt installation at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

By Ioana Neamt, Associate Editor

MSP International Airport

Construction has begun on the largest solar energy project in the state of Minnesota, a three-megawatt installation at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. According to a news release, the $24.5 million project will be installed on the top deck of two Terminal 1 parking structures, and is expected to increase Minnesota’s cumulative solar capacity by almost 20 percent.

Slated for completion by October 2015, the project includes the conversion of about 7,700 metal halide light fixtures to energy-saving LED technology, as well as the installation of four additional electric vehicle charging stations on the parking ramps. The state-of-the-art solar installation will generate close to 20 percent of the airport’s total power supply.

Massachusetts-based Ameresco Inc. has been selected to lead the project, in collaboration with local entities including tenKsolar, Cooper Lighting/Eaton Corp., Hunt Electric and Thrivent Financial. Xcel Energy also contributed to the project, with a $2 million grant from its Renewable Development Fund, according to a press release. Minneapolis-based GreenMark was hired back in 2012 by the Metropolitan Airports Commission to see whether a major solar energy generation facility could be built at the airport.

“This project will create 250 new jobs, and make our airport one of the most energy-efficient in the world,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “Minnesota’s nation-leading clean energy policies and projects like this one have significantly reduced carbon emissions in our state while helping create thousands of new jobs.”

Gov. Dayton praised the project at the 2014 Minnesota Clean Energy Economy Summit, held in July. Following the summit, the Minnesota State Departments of Commerce and Employment and Economic Development created the first Minnesota Clean Energy Economy Profile. According to the report, the state of Minnesota has experienced a 130 percent increase in solar energy jobs since 2000, with 1,230 solar energy jobs created in 2014 alone.

“The Metropolitan Airports Commission has worked for decades to operate the 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,” said Jeff Hamiel, the Commission’s CEO & executive director.

Located in Hennepin County, roughly 10 miles from both downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in the upper Midwest region, which includes Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Image courtesy of the MSP Airport Facebook page