Spain’s airport operator launches ambitious solar panel project

download (14)

Aena will invest €250 million in renewable energy to save on its energy bills and cut carbon emissions.

The board of directors at Aena, Spain’s airport operator, has approved an ambitious new plan to cut carbon emissions and save on its energy bills by generating most of its own power through solar panels by 2026.

The company will invest €250 million on installing solar panels in half of its airports, a move that should also lower its carbon emissions by 40% (167,000 tons) by 2025.

Aena currently spends €75 million a year on its energy bills. The new Photovoltaic Plan proposed by the company’s president, Maurici Lucena, will save an estimated €52 million. It will also make Aena one of the leaders in clean-energy production among European airport operators.

There had been an earlier plan, introduced by the previous management team, to purchase clean energy from other providers while self-producing only around 5% of the total. But the new company leaders feel that producing their own energy is a lot cheaper, especially considering that Aena owns vast tracts of empty land located near the airports that could be used for solar panels.

The company, which is 51% state owned, now has to decide which airports will get the new facilities first. In addition to Madrid and Barcelona’s airports, the company plans to install solar panels in 20 out of the 46 airports it has in Spain, focusing on the ones with more available land and sunlight.

This will also ensure that Madrid and Barcelona’s airports, which account for half of Aena’s emissions, are carbon neutral by 2030. The company also plans to replace all of its passenger vehicles with non-polluting ones by 2025 and to install 2,300 charging stations for electric vehicles in its airport parking lots.

Aena’s solar-panel plan is a step forward in the fight against climate change and the decarbonisation of the economy, following the European Union’s objective to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. “We have to be aware that to ensure the sustainable growth of air travel and airports in Europe, we have to establish ambitious goals to reduce emissions,” said airport management sources.