DULLES, Va. — Virginia leaders broke ground Tuesday on the Dulles Solar and Storage project. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and other leaders, along with members of Dominion Energy Virginia and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority were all on hand for the event, which is the largest renewable energy project ever developed at an airport in the United States.
Dominion reports the project will be capable of producing 100 megawatts, which is enough solar electricity to power more than 37,000 homes and businesses The Dulles site is 835 acres and could be completed by 2024, according to the Airport Authority's report. The project includes over 200,000 solar panels.
Princeton University Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment professor Jesse Jenkins said airports are drawing a lot of interest from solar developers.
"Airports make a lot of sense for siting of solar," Jenkins said. "They're usually close to where we consume electricity near our urban areas. The land is already reserved - large areas of land - with security perimeters around them already, and that makes them a really logical place to develop solar.”
The Dulles project includes a storage facility capable of storing 50 megawatts of electricity, according to Dominion Energy. The facility will feature large pods of batteries that appear similar to steel shipping containers.
“We all know that solar only produces electricity when the sun is shining," Ruby said. "So when we build solar, we need an ability to store solar during the day, so that we can generate electricity at night because our customers require electricity 24/7 around the clock,” said Dominion spokesperson Aaron Ruby.
As part of the agreement between Dominion Energy and MWAA, Dominion Energy's Ed Baine said the power company will develop two solar carports to partially power Dulles facilities, and provide 18 electric buses, 50 electric fleet vehicles, and electric vehicle charging stations for Dulles operations. Along the way, the project will support 300 jobs and over $200 million in economic activity across the region, Baines said.