Building the World

Let there be (f)light


“Icarus” by Blondel, Rotunda of Apollo, Louvre Museum. Image: wikimedia commons.

Icarus would be impressed. The Greek hero is famous for flying too close to the sun, but light and flight may now combine to improve the environment. Airports and runways are, by definition, open fields that prove ideal for solar power. Chochin, India is the site of the world’s first solar-powered airport. Welcoming 1,000 flights per day, the facility cost $9.5m to build, and benefits the environment as much as planting 3m trees. Prime Minister Narenda Modi announced a national goal of generating 100,000 megawatts by 2022; most parts of the land of the Taj Mahal receive 300 days of sunshine per year. The “Cochin” model is the first, but not the last: Africa has opened a solar-powered airport. Space solar power, pioneered by Peter Glaser, along with breakthrough technologies including nuclear fusion, may be on the agenda of energy change, advocated by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition announced in Paris at COP21 by Bill Gates. As NASA designs the new supersonic airplane to replace the Concorde, will new airfields be solar?

Menon, Supriya. “How is the world’s first solar powered airport faring?” 9 October 2015. BBC News.

“George Airport in South Africa is Africa’s First and Only Regional Solar-Powered Airport.” 29 February 2016.

Breakthrough Energy Coalition:

Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston:

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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