A planned community solar array at Kansas City’s newest airport was scrapped when an engineering study uncovered glaring issues. According to the studies performed, Evergys’ community solar array would pose dangerous issues for air traffic controllers, more specifically when it comes to glare.
Gina Penzig, an Evergy spokesperson, confirmed with Energy News Network that it opted to pull the project in mid-November. Since the cancellation of the planned community solar array, the utility company has been looking for a new site that could host the facility. The company has been sitting on this new project for quite some time as it continued to face delays and difficulties.
According to the installation’s original plans, the community solar panels were to be built atop a parking garage near the new airport. The facility was planned to have a capacity of 5-megawatts. Evergy chose the airport, which is still currently under construction, because it would allow the solar facility to be visible to everyone arriving.
When the Federal Aviation Administration reviewed the plans for approval, it completed a glare study to see how the panels would affect incoming planes. The FAA found that the panels posed a glare risk that could hinder pilot or air traffic controller vision. Though the FAA didn’t require the project to stop, it advised Evergy that the changes needed would be costly.
Engineers on the community solar project also surveyed a site1.4 miles from the airport’s tower. Though it was further away, there was still an issue when it came to a glare. Had Evergy moved ahead with the project, it wouldn’t have been the first to be built on an airport’s property. Airports in Denver, Tucson, Honolulu, and Tampa feature solar arrays, but it’s the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport that is most important to Evergy’s findings.
In a 2014 report by Alicen Kandt and Rachel Romero of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Boston airport’s solar arrays, which were installed in 2012, were found to have a temporary glare problem that lasted 45 minutes each morning. To fix the issue, the panels were rotated 90-degrees toward the east.
Currently, Evergy has not mentioned an alternative location for the project.