Osprey awarded new contract to conduct feasibility study on the installation of solar panels at an airfield

Osprey, a tpgroup company, has been awarded a new contract to conduct a feasibility study to identify the aviation implications of the installation of solar panels at an airfield in Wales. 

The installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on airport sites helps to reduce their carbon footprint, but can also impact aviation safety at the airfield in a variety of ways, ranging from glint and glare effects on Air Traffic Control (ATC) and pilots, to airfield safeguarding issues.

Glint and glare can significantly affect nearby observers under certain conditions, particularly residents in surrounding dwellings, road users and transport infrastructure. It may also result in a distraction for aviation operators (including pilots and air traffic controllers) and may have other visual impacts which can affect aviation safety. Osprey’s glint and glare analysis capability helps airports and developers identify safety issues from the outset to avoid potentially costly design changes later in the project lifecycle.    

The introduction of any new installations or structures near an operational runway may also compromise the ongoing operation. As a result, areas around the runway are safeguarded to ensure the continuation of safe aircraft operations. There is a regulatory requirement to assess the potential safeguarding issues, including potential impact on the airfield’s Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS), along with any Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) equipment in the vicinity. Failure to address potential issues may result in the refusal of planning permission to develop a project and could also increase local opposition to a proposed development.

Simon Kirby, Principal Consultant at Osprey said “Solar panel developments at airfields are evolving as a way to reduce operating costs and to demonstrate a commitment to renewable energy and sustainable development. However, as a highly regulated industry, aviation is subject to stringent safety standards to ensure that all operations are safe and efficient. Osprey’s glint and glare assessment identifies and addresses safety issues early on so that appropriate mitigation measures can be put in place to ensure that projects are not held up or delayed at the planning stage.”

Initially, Osprey will undertake a feasibility study to assess the nature of the issues and understand the potential impact of the solar arrays on airfield operations. The study will also address regulatory standards and compliance, airfield safeguarding and the glint and glare challenges associated with constructing solar panels on/near the airfield. On completion of the study, Osprey will deliver a detailed technical report summarising the project activities and findings and propose next steps to take the project forward.

Please contact our Airports & Airspace Team to discuss how we can support your solar panel installation project: [email protected]

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