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Here's The First American Airport Powered Entirely By Solar Energy


Chattanooga's been having quite a cultural moment recently, what with dozens of new restaurants and bars popping up across town. Last September, The Edwin Hotel, a member of The Autograph Collection, opened with much fanfare, joining The Dwell and The Moxy Chattanooga Downtown in The Scenic City's growing boutique hotel scene.

Now, Tennessee's fourth-largest city is once again turning heads by claiming a first in the sustainability sector. Earlier this month, the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport announced that it had hit a much-anticipated milestone in becoming the first airfield in the United States powered by 100% solar energy.

The end result of an ambitious project that started seven years ago, the airport's 2.64-megawatt solar farm was completed with about $5 million of funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. That investment is expected to be earned back in under 20 years, as a renewable energy stream brings down the facility's overall costs of operation. According to a press release, the installation measures about the size of 16 football fields—eight long and two wide.

“This is a momentous day for the Chattanooga Airport as we complete our solar farm and achieve a major sustainability milestone,” said Terry Hart, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Airport in the release. “This project has immediate benefits to our airport and community, and we’re proud to set an example in renewable energy for other airports, businesses and our region. While generating a local renewable resource, we are also increasing the economic efficiency of the airport.”

According to Bloomberg, Chattanooga Airport's solar farm saves energy via storage units that allow operations to continue after sundown. The publication also reports that the system is expected to last between 30 and 40 years.

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