Solar Energy Takes Flight at California Airports

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Solar energy at California Airports

When it comes to environmental stewardship, you can count on California to be at the forefront. The Golden State is chock full of natural resources that can easily dwindle away to nothing if not protected. While water conservation is a priority with California's residents, reducing energy consumption and emissions still garner attention from corporate sustainability advocates. Learn how regional airports in California are doing their part to make their communities healthier places to live, work, and play.

Benefits of Alternative Energy Systems in California

California has the largest economy in the United States. However, you can see trouble steadily creep in if you look close enough. From its growing homeless population to its soaring taxes on businesses, it's not hard to see that California needs to get its financial house in order. Installing alternative energy systems is low-hanging fruit for those who are concerned with the economic climate in the state.

Alternative energy solutions such as solar power systems bring more than just low-cost electricity to California residents and business owners. Using photovoltaic systems across the state creates jobs in this growing niche within the energy industry.

California has committed to reducing the amount of toxic emissions that it releases into the atmosphere. Replacing coal and petroleum-based energy systems with cleaner sources of power is a giant step toward meeting its obligations.

How California Airports are Executing Sustainability Initiatives

According to statistics that the Air Transport Action Group published, the global aviation industry accounts for about 2% of the world's human-made carbon dioxide emissions. While the airlines are much more efficient than ground transportation companies, there has been an uptick in carbon dioxide emissions due to increased travel worldwide. Two Southern California airports have decided that generating solar energy is the most efficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions locally.

Tenants at Van Nuys Airport and Long Beach Airport recently partnered with PCS Energy to install solar panels on the roofs of their hangars, administrative buildings, and maintenance facilities. Clay Lacy Aviation has installed a solar energy system at Van Nuys Airport that covers almost 30,000 square feet. Aeroplex/Aerolease Group commissioned a solar array system that covers 21,000 square feet at Long Beach Airport.

The solar array systems at Van Nuys Airport and Long Beach Airport are expected to generate 500 kilowatts and 380 kilowatts of energy per year respectively.

Why a Solar Energy Focus for California Airports

To Clay Lacy Aviation and Aeroplex, solar energy harvesting makes perfect sense. California airport regulations ensure that most buildings sit low to the ground and have flat roofs that don't block sunlight. Besides air traffic control towers, there aren't many tall buildings or trees at airports to stop solar energy collection over large areas. Southern California cities such as Long Beach get as much as 280 sunny days per year on average. These factors make a sunny climate a very valuable natural resource for Californians.

Besides slashing energy expenses in half, solar energy generation allows California airports to produce electricity without releasing harmful emissions into the atmosphere. These clean energy initiatives will help Van Nuys Airport to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 530 metric tons per year according to Aviation News International. Long Beach Airport expects to reduce its carbon emissions by 424 metric tons.

Future Outlook

While Clay Lacy and Aeroplex are certainly trailblazers when it comes to producing clean energy at airports, they are not likely to be the only ones to adopt these measures. Van Nuys Airport is a member of the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). LAWA plans to roll out similar solar energy projects at its other airports after getting regulatory approval.


Whether or not you regard global climate change as a serious threat, generating solar energy in sunny California just makes good sense. Decades ago, smog choked Southern California communities. California worked hard to clean up. You can expect today's Californians to put the same effort into reducing emissions with solar energy.

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