May 14, 2009 Airports are windy places and it seems logical to harness this power to reduce operating costs and boost green credentials. In line with this, the environmentally minded Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) has recently installed 10 wind-powered electricity generators and purchased an electric-powered utility vehicle for use at the airport.

The MAC has mounted the 1-kilowatt wind turbines on the roof of the airport's fire station to maximize the use of the prevailing northwest winds. The turbines, manufactured by Aerovironment, are expected to generate 10 kilowatts of electricity an hour. The MAC expects the turbines, which cost USD$94,000 and have an estimated life of more than 20 years, will easily bring a return on investment through reduced fuel costs. Each unit has five black fan blades to protect the blades and turbines from snow, ice and birds.

The new Cushman Motors e-Ride exv2 electric utility vehicle will be used primarily by parking management staff. Equipped with a 72 volt AC motor with a range of 45 to 55 miles, the totally electric vehicle is quiet and eliminates the exhaust emissions of hybrid and fossil-fuel-powered vehicles normally used at airports. Costing USD$22,000, the electric vehicle will only cost about USD$202 a year to run.

The program is part of the Stewards of Tomorrow’s Airport Resources (STAR) program, launched by the MAC in 2008, which is aimed at advancing airport activities that are environmentally, operationally and financially sustainable.

“We will monitor how well the wind-power generators and the electric vehicle perform at MSP to determine whether they might play a bigger role in the airport’s future," says Jeff Hamiel, airport executive director.

For more information visit the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport website.

David Greig

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