The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will spend $25.4 million over the next year to install more energy-efficient structures. This will include electric vehicle chargers, LED lights and a 3-megawatt solar panel that will cover the tops of two parking ramps.
The project will generate an estimated 250 jobs, many of which will be temporary, but several will be permanent. It will also provide the airport with an estimated $10 million in decreased energy costs over the next 30 years. As this project moves forward, Minnesota is aiming to have utilities produce 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.
MSP’s solar panels are expected to generate 20 percent of the airport’s total power supply, and their construction is in line with a new state standard mandating that 1.5 percent of utility-generated electricity must be solar by 2020.
Critics of the MSP solar panel installation have argued that the panels cannot provide an adequate return on the financial investment required to install them. The $10 million in long-term savings, they say, is not enough to justify the $25.4 million spent right now.
MSP must ensure that the solar panels will be cost-effective. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that a shift toward renewable energy sources is important for both the environment and the state, which is why we support the project.
As the state’s largest solar project to date, the MSP renovation should set a precedent for future projects and provide lessons for large-scale solar projects to come.