San Diego International Airport is expected to save up to $8 million in energy costs over the course of the 20-year power purchase agreement with NRG, the owner of the system, which enabled the Airport Authority to go solar with no upfront cost. It is estimated that the solar energy system will avert more than 3,700 metric tons of carbon pollution annually, the equivalent of taking 770 cars off the road each year.
The system is comprised of two installations, on on the roof of the newly expanded Terminal 2 West and in a section of the Terminal 2 short-term parking lot adjacent to the terminal.
The system will generate an estimated 5.3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in its first year of operation–enough power to offset a projected 10%-13% of the energy needs for Terminals 1 and 2 at SDIA.
Innovative state policies like the California Solar Initiative helped make the airport project possible, by offering up a performance based incentive of 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour of energy produced for the first five years the project is in operation.
In 2008, SDIA was the first major airport in the nation to adopt a formal sustainability policy, which includes a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving LEED certification in all new construction. In February of 2014, SDIA was the first U.S. airport to sign the Climate Declaration, a call to action organized by the nonprofit Ceres that urges federal and state policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of addressing climate change. In 2012, it was the first U.S. airport to publish an annual sustainability report based on Global Reporting Initiative guidelines, a reporting framework for sustainability-related performance.
For a sense of what it was like to build the terminal two solar projects at the San Diego International Airport, check out the time lapse video our financing partner and system owner NRG put together.