EVANSVILLE, Ind. — By early 2020, Evansville Regional Airport will have the largest solar panel-covered airport parking canopy in the U.S.
The $6.5 million project is a show of innovation, local officials said Monday at a celebratory event to begin construction. The solar panels are expected to supply about half of the airport terminal’s power, generating 1.3 megawatts.
The canopy will cover 387 spaces in EVV’s short-term parking lot and rental car area. It will hold 3,768 solar panels over 62,000 square feet.
“We continue to find ways to be sustainable both in the terminal and out, with LED lighting, with recycling and with improved efficiencies on heating and air conditioning. Solar panels are the next step in that progression,” said Nate Hahn, airport executive director.
The company hired for the job is Johnson-Melloh Solutions, based in Indianapolis. A partner in Johnson-Melloh, Kurt Schneider, is an Evansville native.
“Evansville Regional Airport is leading by example with the addition of iconic solar canopies that use our most precious abundant resource — the sun,” Schneider said.
EVV officials expect the $6.5 million solar investment will pay for itself over the next several years. Many airports across the U.S. utilize solar technology, but only five have solar canopies, and Evansville will have the largest upon completion.
There will be temporary parking restrictions in place at EVV during construction, Hahn said. He anticipates having the solar panels operating by late February.
About a half million passengers fly into and out of EVV annually. The airport’s usage has been growing, and the terminal recently underwent a $20 million renovation.
Local government officials said the solar panel project is exciting for EVV, as well as the community and region.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said the solar panel project is “another great way to make sure EVV is on the cutting edge, and a way to show companies considering expanding into Evansville or coming here for the first time that we are a community that’s looking to be innovative on all fronts.”
“Our Evansville Regional Airport continues to be vitally important to the growth within our county and to our entire region’s economy,” Vanderburgh County Commissioner Ben Shoulders said. “It’s wonderful to have a world-class airport with such excellent innovative amenities that guests normally do not find in markets the size of Evansville.”