Skip to comments.Manchester airport remains in dark over solar-panel glare solution
Posted on 08/07/2013 8:13:07 AM PDT by woodbutcher1963
MANCHESTER Engineers have recommended that solar panels on top of a Manchester airport parking garage be repositioned toward the east rather than the sun-drenched south to prevent glare that has bothered air-traffic controllers, an airport official said.
The recommendation comes as the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport continues to drape tarps over some of the 2,200 solar panels on top of an airport parking garage. The drapes went up last August when controllers started complaining about early morning glare.
Since then, the airport, Federal Aviation Administration, controllers and others have been working with consultants to fix the problem, said J. Brian O'Neill, deputy airport director.
The $3.5 million solar panel installation, the largest in New Hampshire, was paid for with a federal grant and is designed to power the parking garage and sky bridge that lead to the airport terminal. In the summer, the airport sells excess electricity to Public Service of New Hampshire.
Before the project was built, airport officials hired a consultant Harris, Miller, Miller & Hanson of Burlington, Mass. to apply for the FAA grant and study glare issues. The firm earned $41,570.
Ever since the glare emerged, the firm has been working with the airport, O'Neill said.
"They've been very thorough with their due diligence," O'Neill said. "There hasn't been any 'No, no, no. We're not responsible, this is your problem, not our problem.' They've been very cooperative to work with."
An email sent to the firm Tuesday was not returned.
The next step is for the firm and its insurance company to present the ideas on how to solve the glare issue, O'Neill said. The firm could either agree with repositioning the panels or suggest another solution.
Another team of consultants, which involves engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Volpe Center and Sandia National Laboratories, has recommended repositioning the panels to the east.
O'Neill acknowledged that the repositioning will reduce the energy output of the panels; sun from the east is not as strong as sun from the south.
But the plan calls for adding another 180 panels, so the energy output 560,000 to 575,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year will remain the same, he said.
The airport still expects to reach its target of $100,000 in energy savings a year, he said.
O'Neill said the consultants and working group are moving into the second phase of discussions, which involve who has to pay to correct the problem. The price tag would also include $34,800 for work done by the MIT/Volpe group.
"We're going to get back together and discuss responsibility and discuss the path for correcting the problem," he said.
The beat goes on.
When liberals get into science, chaos, disaster and mayhem result.
How about just buying Polaroid sunglasses for the controllers? or polaroid window film? venetian blinds? Oh, wait, this is gubermint ... rebuild the control tower elsewhere.
Yeah, the DOT Volpe Center is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It had been a DoD facility, and when Nixon carried 49 states, he called in the Secretary of Transportation, former Massachusetts Governor Volpe and told him, “You just got yourself a building.”
ROTFLMAO at ‘sh*t for brains’ (thanks, ‘Vacation’!) Red England liberals and marxists...the rot is spreading across America.
Clearly the only solution is to line the runways with windmills.
What you are suggesting is called a radiation fence when it is used to prevent one RF source from interfering with another. The fence casts a small shadow on the victim “antenna”, but otherwise leaves the field of view unaltered. Painting a sillouette of panels (in white?) on the windows of the control tower, so the controllers would be sheilded from the glare might be perfectly workable. The sillouette would have to protect all the points where controllers work, but not block visibility of surfaces that the controllers need to see. I’ve been to that airport and am familiar with the parking garage. I think it is favorably enough situated to make that practical, but I am not sure.
I’ve been in the Logan control tower, and buildings in Boston, a few miles away, can cast glare into the tower, though it does not seem to be as serious as at this site.
The building I work in casts blinding glare from its partially mirrored windows onto a local street at the right (or wrong, depending on your point of view) in the morning.
For 3.5 million US you can buy 35 million KW hours. So in 60 or 70 years these panels will break even. Way to go tax payers!
solar panels..................the aluminum siding of the 21st century.
Are you imaging a control tower where the view point is only from a single seat, nobody moves around or stands up?
my neighbor just spent big bucks on solar panels. When I pressed him for return on investment he wouldn’t tell me anything.................and That told me all I needed to know.
I wonder whether some time in the future when there are a lot more of these solar panels they will find that all this reflected light is actually warming the planet.
Read it again. It would have to cover all the locations where controllers work from, and afford visibility to all areas that they need to observe. Might be a shipload cheaper than moving the friggin’ panels.
Somebody failed geometric optics 101 when they plotted the “glare path” is what I think.
Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool
Maybe they could paint them a non-reflective flat black? < /sarc>
Or the gubbmamint will need to build a special sunglass plant for making custom air traffic controller glasses.
Look at the pictures I just posted. They are too close to the runways & taxiways for that to work.
This is not an insurance issue or a valid claim. This is a design flaw.
A friend that lives down the street from me just checked on solar for her house. She found out real quick that she can’t afford it. We live in the central valley California where our electric bills are over $600 a month in the summer. Even with that she can’t afford to buy them and once a lease was explained she was like wow.
Simple solution. Get a government grant to build a new control tower that faces away from the panels.
Solar panels (for a home owner) make some sense as an emergency back up system for lighting and communications (AM/FM/Shortwave radio) maybe even a low power PC. Other then that they are a waste of money. Reliant Energy sells me power for under 10 cents a KW hour. Solar panels can’t touch that price but I do own a couple for emergencies.
“Authorities have made the decision to undrape the solar panels only at night, stating that should help with the problem of the bright glare.”
It's best to have panels that follow the Sun on a daily basis, for a net gain of watts vs. the tracking expenditure.
Without even taking in to consideration the latitude, mean sunlight, etc., I'll ballpark the LOSS of potential watts by pointing them East at 80%.
Why do I get the feeling that some solar panel company based in DE is an Friend of Biden?
What about moon glow?
“... rebuild the control tower elsewhere.”
You would never make it as a gubment worker...you think too small.
REBUILD THE AIRPORT to the west...THEN create a commission to look into the matter and to make a plan as to what to do (relocate the airport AGAIN, to the east).
Electrical tape! Put a few pieces over the controller’s window right where it’s brightest.
You know, like us regular people do to our winshield that has a crack in it to stop the glare.
If so much light is deflecting....isn’t so much energy not being utilized?
OR the air traffic controllers could all put black grease paint/makeup under their eyes like MLB outfielders do on a sunny day.
I bow to your wisdom
How about, instead of picking a solution that might reduce the visibility for air traffic controllers, we just get rid of the damn panels?
Cost: $3.5 million.
Annual energy savings: $ 100,000
Wow—only a 35 year payback!
Let’s hope the panels even last that long, which they won’t.
As a general rule, when an engineer negligently performs services on behalf of his firm or employer, the individual allegedly suffering damage from the engineer’s negligent performance may sue the company and/or the individual engineer. Typically, in the case of an engineering firm in private practice, the firm’s professional liability insurance carrier will respond to claims against any past or present principal, partner, director, officer, or employee acting within the scope of their duties.
Read carefully, they need to add another 180 panels to reach their goal. That may be an additional cost to the $3.5 million already spent. The article does not specify.
I also wonder if it includes maintenance costs. Somebody most need to go up on that roof and clean those things off once in awhile.
A simple solution would be something like either honeycomb, or vertical venetian blinds, so that the glancing rays of the sun will be blocked, and the direct mid-day rays of the sun won’t.
One would need to play with the geometry a bit, but one could probably keep 2/3rds of the annual output, especially if the “blinds” were movable to the limited areas where the glare was a seasonal concern. The blinds could even be steerable like any venetian blinds, with a sensor that tracked the sun to keep the blinds parallel to the sun’s rays.
Maybe I should submit a proposal.
Either that or a wall/screen between the panels and the tower windows.
Overall, this is what happens when people spend other people’s money.
One of our local airports recently got to spend about 8 million dollars of federal airport dollars regrading the dirt between and around the runways and taxiways. The goal was to smooth things out so that if a plane departed the runway it had a smoother transition and smooth dirt to roll out on.
Problem: The engineers must have been concerned with drainage more than any pilot concerns. The grading on either side of the runways smoothly slopes away from the runway right up to about 10 feet from the parallel taxiways, where it abruptly banks back up to taxiway level. If you depart the runway for any emergency lading, you can no longer roll across a taxiway without slamming into that 3 ft wall of earth with props, gear, and anything else hanging low. Also, if someone departs the taxiway for any reason, there is now not a smooth transition to dirt, just a 3 ft shear drop, which is also not good for the airplane.
To make matters worse, it is very difficult to see this unfriendly terrain feature from any angle unless you are pretty much standing at the bank and looking along it, since its all grassed and tends to blend when viewing from the taxiway nearby or the more distant runway. The local pilots know of the problem, but I have already seen a visiting aircraft taxi off the taxiway (tail dragger in strong crosswind, poor pilot control) and prop strike and have rudder damage as a result.
Some govt planner just spent 8 million moving dirt around the airport and did not even ask one pilot for input.
What happened to the picture?
Anyway, from what I remember, it looked like the panels were not properly oriented toward the path of sun. I would think you would want them oriented toward where the noonday sun is. And maybe adjust them for the winter months or maybe once a quarter.
RE winter sun in New Hampshire: Wouldn’t the panels be covered in snow much of the time? No prob, government can just hire a crew of panel cleaners, yeah that will be cost-effective....
Now the pics are displaying again. Yes, the sun appears to be beyond the runways. Looks like these panels were oriented along the building axis.
Some study that firm did [not]!
I still see the pictures. But if you click on the link below them, it takes you to a pdf with them embedded.
The article describes it a early morning sun causing the glare, not noonday.
The building, and associated panels, are pointing just slightly west of straight south.
If we were looking down on the building, I'd say the panels should be rotated counterclockwise a considerable amount to better match the sun path. If these are simply fixed-position panels, they are going to be mis-aligned for much of the year, like when this picture was taken.
Yes, go to the goggle map link above. The control tower view is east across the buildings, when the sun is rising they are getting blasted.
I see the parking deck. Panels not installed at the time of the photo, it appears.
Some kind of low wall between the panel farms and the control tower line of sight would be in order.
Please give me my $500K consult fee, please.
Why do I find this funny?
Oh, had no idea the panel farm was so close to the tower.
I’ll refund the consult fee in 90 days.