Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “We are excited to be the UK’s first airport to construct a solar farm on an airfield. Some may doubt the power of sun in Scotland, but our solar farm will deliver around 26% of our energy needs and allow us to deliver energy back into the grid when we produce more than we need. This project illustrates our commitment to making environmental improvements and is something passengers will actually be able to see as they arrive or depart.”
Construction is due to begin later this year and the solar farm is expected to be operational next summer. It has been supported by Scottish government funding of £2m.
The project is one element of the airport’s new sustainability strategy, Greater Good, which sets out how the airport will work towards being more sustainable now and in the future. The strategy is not only about reducing environmental impacts, but also how the airport manages its social and economic impacts.
The Greater Good strategy focuses on four key pillars to achieve a sustainable future for the airport:
- ‘zero carbon’ – working in partnership to improve its approach to climate change;
- ‘enhancing Scotland’ – creating an airport to showcase the best of Scotland whilst delivering the best passenger experience possible;
- ‘Scotland’s best business’ – as a hub and facilitator, the airport says it will work with its people, passengers and partners to create a business with integrity;
- ‘trusted neighbour’ – working with its neighbouring communities to share the benefits of sustainable growth with them and mitigate any negative impacts.
The airport said that the strategy has a number of targets within it, such as such as achieving carbon neutrality for direct emissions by 2024 and establishing a campus-wide sustainability standard as well as a cleaner engine standard.
The Greater Good strategy also takes into account some of the work already being carried out at the airport, such as purchasing 100% renewable electricity since 2018, diverting all waste from landfill, paying all staff the real living wage and its commitment to the Modern Slavery Act.
Dewar said: “Our sustainability strategy is about more than just carbon; it’s about making our business, Scotland’s gateway to the world, sustainable and a social and economic asset that serves future generations. To do that, we have to carefully consider our impact on the environment and act accordingly. Our operations are already carbon neutral and while we are proud of that, we know there is more to do for the greater good of Scotland.
“For an island economy, travel is an important reality and we need to have a sensible conversation about how to balance the desire and need to travel – whether to see family or do business - in the wake of the pandemic and making our industry cleaner and greener. It’s a challenge for all sectors but particularly for ours.”