Skip to content

Support climate news that matters

Reader support keeps our work free. Donate now, and all gifts get matched through May 31.

Help us raise $50,000 by the end of May.

35%
Donate now

Climate Energy

Featured

This photo taken on September 26, 2016 in George, South Africa, shows a passenger commercial aicraft taxiing on the airport's runway before take off, as solar panels are seen in the foreground.

This story was originally published by Wired and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The next time you’re staring out a plane window during takeoff or landing, give the airport a scan. You’ll see hangars and other support buildings and, of course, the terminal. But mostly, you’ll see lots of empty space. Airplanes, as many aeronautical engineers have noted, like open spaces—for obvious reasons, including not getting along with trees.

You know what also likes open spaces? Solar panels, which abhor the shade of not only trees but also tall buildings. So why aren’t we covering our airports — dedicated spaces that can’t be used for anything other than the business of air travel — with solar arrays? Well, it turns out that airports not only have a lot of empty space, they also have a lot of rules.

But let’s talk about their potential first. New research out of Australia shows how massively effective it would be to solarize 21 airports in that country. Researchers scanned satellite images of the airports for open roof space, where solar panels best avoid shadows, and found a total of 2.61 square kil... Read more

All Stories