Solar energy is now increasingly common on the world’s runways

Niners fans may be used to their team being beloved, especially after taking NFC West — but was it a good thing to make outside linebacker Aldon Smith think in such grandiose terms after…

Solar energy is now increasingly common on the world's runways

Niners fans may be used to their team being beloved, especially after taking NFC West — but was it a good thing to make outside linebacker Aldon Smith think in such grandiose terms after trading for him this past spring? During an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle this week, Smith talked about going to Las Vegas and seeing stars.

“Who knows what I was just looking at?” Smith said, according to the Chronicle. “Maybe Tony Hawk. The Masters. I saw dolphins. And then one of my favorite places is — I don’t even know where I saw it — they’ve got a runway right outside the airport. You’re welcome if you want to take off from there.”

Not coincidentally, the Indy Air and Space Center opened this year at the brand new San Francisco International Airport. The facility is basically a mock-up of a long runway, but most of the floor space is devoted to climate control systems, including solar panels. Plus, there’s a revolving restaurant.

“It was a little hard to stomach after the Aldon Smith thing when you think about how people don’t have air conditioning on the airplanes,” says Cate Stokes, the manager of the air and space center.

“You have the city sucking up land for development all the time, so, what are we doing to make sure that our air and space center is here for us?”

In keeping with the rest of the nation, the Lone Star State is one of the top targets for solar energy production. Texas has twice as much land in the solar energy sector as California, and now, the airports in both states are considering putting solar power systems on their runways. Last week, the airfield in Corpus Christi approved a deal with Xcel Energy that includes rooftop panels along the runways, reports the Associated Press.

Also in Texas, the Waco Airport has a $57 million plan to install rooftop solar panels on the runways, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports. It already has a solar testing facility, and a plant that processes silicon photovoltaic cells, the biggest source of solar power worldwide.

Of course, Houston’s biggest airport — Bush International — is already solar powered, and this is only one more way it is benefiting from the blossoming Texas economy.

JetBlue, which operates one of the largest jets in the world — the A320 — runs its operations from an airport-owned tower in a part of Brooklyn long associated with the brand. But now, JetBlue also runs what should by law be a dual airline: a U.S. jet, and an international jet — the biofuel-burning, hybrid-fuel-flying Airbus A320.

JetBlue last week became the second airline to offer New York City’s tallest skyscraper full solar power, according to the airline. It used $4 million worth of solar power, which, it says, will save $1.5 million in energy costs every year.

When you’re running from disaster, might as well run from disaster with some solar power that comes from your airport’s runway.

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