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Monday, January 24, 2022

Looking for a place for solar farms, cities find a place at their airports

“The government is stimulating the development of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind through tax incentives and accelerated depreciation,” said Miriam S. Wrobel, senior managing director of FTI Consulting in San Francisco. “Often times government agencies like airports are unable to use tax breaks, so third parties own the assets and sell the generated energy to the airport.”

Prices are locked for 20 to 25 years, but the owner is only paid when the energy flows.

The Tallahassee project was won by Origis Energy, a Miami-based firm offering green energy storage solutions. Johan Vanhee, commercial director of Origis, said the airport project was the starting point for the company. “We are a wholesaler of renewable energy,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of our factories are located outside airports.”

But experts say the price cuts for solar modules and the Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act, which allocates $ 25 billion to airports, could change the percentage.

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A decade ago, one module cost about $ 2.50 a watt, and now an entire utility-scale photovoltaic system costs about $ 1 a watt, said David J. Feldman, a senior financial analyst in Washington with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a research center. is based in Golden, Colorado and funded by the Department of Energy.

“The cost of solar energy has dropped significantly over the past decade,” said Alisen Kandt, senior engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “It becomes attractive in areas that may seem far from ideal.”

One such overlooked place is Maine, where the proposed solar power project for Augusta State Airport is expected to provide 7.5 megawatts of power, all of which will be returned to the grid.

“This is an open space, no threat to anyone, it’s owned by the government, and it helps taxpayers and the environment,” said Paul Merrill, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, of the project, which is expected to save the state more than $ 6 million. 20 years.

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