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Glasgow to create largest airport-based solar farm in Scotland

Glasgow to create largest airport-based solar farm in Scotland

Glasgow Airport has announced plans for what will be the largest solar farm at a Scottish airport as part its ongoing commitment to decarbonising its infrastructure and achieving net zero by the mid-2030s.

The 30-acre onsite, ground mounted solar farm will give Glasgow Airport the capability to generate enough power for the airport campus and neighbouring businesses. This is equivalent to powering almost 20% of homes in the city of Glasgow (approximately 52,000 households)[1].

[1] In 2020, the number of households in Glasgow City was 295,761. National Records of Scotland Glasgow City Council Area Profile (nrscotland.gov.uk).

The c.15MW solar farm is already in the early stages of development subject to planning and is expected to be operational by summer 2023 subject to planning approval. The plant is the latest in a number of initiatives the airport and its parent group, AGS Airports, is undertaking to support its journey to net zero.

AGS, which also owns Aberdeen and Southampton airports, is in the final phase of a procurement process for Internet of Things (IoT) services to reduce its overall energy consumption by using digital technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Earlier this month, AGS announced it had formed the Scottish wind energy consortium with Katrick Technologies and the University of Strathclyde to enable a faster transition to clean power by exploiting low-level wind energy.

The airport group is working with net zero consultancy firm Ikigai which advises large infrastructure projects on delivering energy transition while adding value by co-developing energy solutions with the asset owners. All three AGS airports achieved carbon neutrality status in 2020 and as part of its sustainability strategy which it launched in June 2021, AGS set out a roadmap for its transition to net zero by the mid-2030s.

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports, said: “All of our electricity is already purchased from 100% renewable sources and has been since 2018, however, the creation of the solar farm at Glasgow Airport will allow us to become self-sustaining by generating enough clean energy for both the airport and our neighbours.

“As one of the UK’s leading regional airport groups that serves the Highlands and Islands there’s a real opportunity for AGS to become a testbed for hydrogen and electric flight and the solar farm gives us the ability to future proof for an increase in electricity demand.

“There will be additional demand due to the electrification of operational vehicles, taxis, rental cars and we will also launch a green car scheme to support our staff to switch to electric vehicles. All of this will require electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“We need to anticipate these changes and the steps we are taking today will ensure we can meet both the demands of the future and our net zero targets."

Roberto Castiglioni, co-founder of Ikigai commented: “AGS have always understood the importance of a holistic approach to the decarbonisation challenge and the importance of starting with quick wins to generate traction with stakeholders. This solar project is just the beginning of a wider investment plan for Glasgow Airport that will encompass digitisation, energy efficiency and fuel decarbonisation to supply not only airport’s demand but also local community”.

The efforts of AGS in working towards a more sustainable future for aviation have been recognised by the leading global sustainability organisation Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). GRESB assesses the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance of real estate and infrastructure portfolios.

In 2021, AGS secured top three positions in the UK with Southampton ranked as the best performing UK airport. Aberdeen was ranked second with Glasgow third.

[1] In 2020, the number of households in Glasgow City was 295,761. National Records of Scotland Glasgow City Council Area Profile (nrscotland.gov.uk).

Glasgow Airport