By Matt Baker
The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) recently announced that it is seeking a developer to design, construct and maintain a new solar power generation installation on the grounds of O’Hare International Airport. Development will occur over two phases with an expected completion by 2016.
O’Hare installed ten solar thermal collectors atop a fire station in 2006, which deliver hot water to the building. This project, however, will be much larger and use photovoltaic technology to provide electricity to the airport more broadly.
Most of the land delegated for the project—nearly 30 acres—is just north of the airport proper, around the intersection of Touhy Avenue and Mt. Prospect Rd. Another 12 acres are available to the east, between Mannheim Rd. and the Tri-State Tollway. A possible future, 10-acre location lies to the southwest of O’Hare’s runways.
“We are pleased to pursue greater use of solar energy as part of our commitment to increase the use of renewable and environmentally-friendly energy sources at Chicago’s airports,” said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. “This initiative is a prime example of how the CDA is working to provide new, innovative opportunities for public/private partnership to grow the green economy in Chicago and beyond, which is in line with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for a greener Chicago.”
A minimum of 30 acres will be developed, with the possibility of up to 52 acres of ground-based solar photovoltaic. For safety and security reasons, Federal Aviation Administration guidelines prohibit development of certain critical areas; all of the proposed sites are well clear of these zones.
Respondents have until the end of August to submit their bids. Among other things, proposals must abide by the CDA’s Sustainable Airport Manual for all projected construction. After the CDA has chosen a developer and the City Council has approved the project, construction should begin by next summer.