MSP airport solar installation poised to grow

Solar installation
This aerial view image of the MSP Terminal 1 parking ramps shows where solar arrays are being constructed.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Airports Commission and Ameresco, Inc.

A huge solar power development at the Twin Cities airport is proposed to get even bigger.

A Metropolitan Airports Commission panel has given preliminary approval to a 1.3 megawatt solar installation on top of the parking ramp at Terminal 2. It is expected to provide about half the terminal's peak power need.

That's in addition to a 3 megawatt installation at Terminal 1. Together, they're nearly twice the size of the largest existing solar project in Minnesota.

"The airport's been very progressive and very thoughtful about how they've approached this," said Mark Andrew, founder of Greenmark, the company that helped arrange the deal with the airport and a solar power developer. "They've taken a financial perspective first and foremost, and then an environmental perspective, and they're going to win on both counts, because this is going to actually make money for the airport over time."

The new project will cost about $12 million, and will include retrofitting the Terminal 2 parking structure with LED lights, to help reduce power consumption.

The first phase of the project, at the main terminal, is expected to come online by November.