Volume 17, No.1, Spring 1999

Soaking Up The Sun


Sun and shade are working together at the International Airport in Sacramento. The largest free-standing solarport in the
country has a photovoltaic system that tracks the sun across the sky, providing electricity to the power grid and cool
parking spaces to airport visitors.

The solarport measures 393 feet long, 30 feet wide and 14 feet high. Beneath the cantilevered structure is shaded parking
space for 75 cars, as well as a recharging station that services four electric vehicles. Up top, the photovoltaic cells
collect enough sunlight not only to recharge cars, but to power 50 homes. The electricity is added to the local power grid
of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

According to the utility, the solarport is expected to save the equivalent of 825,00 gallons of oil, 1.1 billion cubic
feet of natural gas, or 10 million pounds of coal. Furthermore, atmospheric pollutants could decrease by 1.7 million pounds
of carbon dioxide emissions.

As deregulation gains momentum and utilities market their “green power,” multi-purpose photovoltaic systems such as the
solarport may persuade some consumers to jump aboard a new power provider.


The Green Business Letter

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