Iberia Commissions $13 Million Solar Plant At Madrid Airport

Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport serves up to over 61 million passengers per year and is the second-largest European airport by size. It is now going through a significant shift in its 90-year history amid the commissioning of the largest corporate solar plant in Spain.

Iberia Airbus A350-941 EC-NCX (2)
With trials already underway, Iberia is relying on solar energy to power its workshops, hangars, and offices in Madrid. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Powerful prospects

Madrid-headquartered Iberia is behind this ambitious project. The flag carrier of Spain has been making considerable progress with its solar program since last year and this week proudly announced that it has commissioned a solar plant to meet its energy demands at its hub in collaboration with energy transition specialist Getting Greener. The plant will provide 80 million kWh of power. This figure is enough to give energy to 800 houses. 

The installation is the first of additional solar plants to be built at Madrid Airport. Altogether, the plan is to reach a generation capacity of 10MW in the next three years to produce over 13 million kWh of energy.

Iberia Solar Madrid
The first of the solar plants includes plenty of equipment, including 6 km of aluminum pipe, 11 km of aluminum and steel structural pipe, and 25 km of electrical wiring. Photo: Iberia

A long-term solution

This first installation is installed on the roof of Iberia’s engine maintenance hangar and will offer 2.7 million kWh each year to cut 32,000 tonnes of carbon during its lifecycle. It involves a whopping 5,650 340Wp solar panels.

The commissioning of this photovoltaic plant is the first step in a programme in which Iberia and Getting Greener are revolutionising energy efficiency at the airline’s Madrid airport hangars, workshops, and offices. The 12-million euro cost will quickly be recovered by savings on current energy expenditures,” Iberia shared in a company statement. 

“The programme is intended to reach 10 million MW of generation capacity within three years, with a total solar panel surface of 50,000 sq. m and output of more than 13 million kW/h, equivalent to the power consumed by more than 4,000 homes. Iberia and Getting Greener are now at work on the second phase, which consists of installing a solar plant on the roof of MRO Hangar 6 and adjoining workshops. adding another 15,000 sq. m of solar capture surface, to generate a total of 14 million kW/h.”

The second 3MW plant will produce over four million kWh. The solar plant is undergoing trials. Photo: Iberia

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The broader strategy

Overall, Iberia and Madrid Airport are keen to transform operations to meet global emissions targets. Part of this motive is to replace existing energy-intensive systems such as air conditioning and lighting with modern, sustainable solutions. Iberia also recently introduced Mototok Spacer 8600 electric ground vehicles to taxi aircraft at the hub in a more sustainable manner.

Madrid Airport is evidently a crucial asset in Spain. However, it is also a valuable hub connecting passengers across the continents. There is plenty of potential for the airport this decade as it seeks to take advantage of its role of linking Latin America with Europe.

Sustainability is high on the agenda in this next stage of aviation. Iberia’s parent, IAG, has a mission to operate in a net-zero ecosystem by 2050. This goal is shared by core stakeholders across the European industry. Advancements in sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), modern planes, and low carbon tech will contribute significantly to achieving this target. However, collaboration with other key players in the air and on the ground will also prove vital.

What are your thoughts about this solar plant being commissioned at Madrid Airport? Do you feel that this is a good move for the aviation industry? Let us know what you think of the initiative in the comment section.