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New photovoltaic project taking shape at Frankfurt Airport


Frankfurt Airport operator, Fraport AG, is embarking on another photovoltaic (PV) project at the gateway to increase its proportion of green energy.

It has installed a demonstration system of 20 PV panels with an output of 8.4 kilowatts at the southwestern end of Runway 18 West and plans to extend the triple-array PV system along Runway 18 West.

Once fully installed, the system is intended to span a length of 2,600 meters parallel to the runway, with a peak generating output of up to 13 megawatts.

Opportunity to leverage green space between runways

Unlike existing PV systems at the airport, the panels for this new system are positioned vertically, rather than diagonally.

Double-sided glass modules pick up sunlight from both easterly and westerly directions, explains Marcus Keimling from Fraport’s network services team.

“Vacant green spaces within our runway system are ideal locations for this particular type of facility,” adds Keimling.

According to Fraport, these fence-style systems offer numerous advantages. While they take up minimal space, they generate large volumes of electricity because of their ability to harness sunlight throughout the day.

Another benefit is that grass below the panels is not significantly impacted by the systems overhead since the panels do not obstruct rain or create permanent shading.

“This means we can expect maximum electricity generation with a minimal impact on nature,” says Keimling.

“That’s important because our green spaces are virtually unique when it comes to their biodiversity. We want this characteristic to remain to the fullest extent, even with the new installation.”

“The aim of our initial demonstration section is to gain experience with building and maintaining the system and the lawn around it.

“Our own staff will be involved in this task. The trial areas will give us the experience we need. We’re going to move on to expanding the PV system alongside the runway very soon, with the aim of completing it as soon as possible.”

Solar power at Frankfurt Airport

Self-generated solar power has been a major component of Fraport’s energy mix since March 2021.

A 13,000 square metre PV system that uses a more traditional layout on the roof of a cargo warehouse in CargoCity South generates peak output of around 1.5 megawatts. Over the longe-term, more PV systems are planned to be installed on new buildings such as the parking building for Frankfurt Airport’s new Terminal 3.

Key role for coastal wind energy at Frankfurt Airport

A driving factor behind the switch to green energy has been a power purchase agreement with energy supplier EnBW that Fraport signed in December 2021.

By the winter of 2025/26, the first electricity from a wind farm to be built off Germany’s North Sea coast will start flowing through to the airport.

Fraport has secured output of 85 megawatts through the power purchase agreement. Until the wind farm is put into service, Fraport will supplement its energy mix with wind energy from smaller power purchase agreements from existing facilities along the coast.

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