However, Nick Pascoe, Orta’s chief executive, is confident the Gatwick system could encourage other airports to make better use of the open space alongside their runways, telling BusinessGreen the company is in early stage discussions about installing solar panels at other major UK airports.
All solar panels at Gatwick are expected to save 25 tonnes of CO2 a year with the electricity generated being used directly at the airport. Feed-in tariff payments will be supplied by Good Energy directly to the system owners, Blue Energy.
The solar array is part of a wider initiative designed to reduce Gatwick’s carbon emissions by 50 per cent against 1990 levels by the end of the decade, while also reducing energy and water use 20 per cent against a 1990 and 2010 baseline respectively.
However, because of the delicate placing, Pascoe said installing the solar panels took around six months of negotiations, with the National Air Traffic Service and the Civil Aviation Authority having to be consulted.
But he was hopeful that after making this “breakthrough”, Blue Energy could now fund a larger system at the site.
“Gatwick wanted to do something, but there was lots of nervousness,” he added. “So what they felt they’d do is put in 50kW. This has broken the back of those concerns and we can work on a larger system. Hopefully, it will be in place by the end of the year.”