Solar Glare Analysis

For some years now, solar panels (both photovoltaic and thermal) have been installed on buildings and airports. Photovoltaic installations in the vicinity of airports can range from a few kW to large installations of several MW. Although there are many successful cases of solar PV installations near airports, some countries require studies to quantify the actual risk to pilots and control tower personnel.


Photovoltaic modules are generally composed of silicon cells, connectors and glass, and are designed to absorb as much of the sun's radiation as possible for conversion into electricity. However, it is possible for some of the solar radiation to be reflected at certain angles at which light strikes the glass plate. Although this phenomenon does not have a major impact when considering an installation in a desert area, it is important to quantify its impact on air traffic when installing solar panels at an airport.

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT). The solar reflection towards the control tower due to the photovoltaic installation can be seen.

Case Study

A special case in the preliminary evaluation was the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) in the United States. The solar installation on a rooftop near the control tower, without prior study, caused discomfort due to sunlight reflection at certain times of the year, which was resolved by changing the angle of the panels to reduce the amount of light reflected towards the control tower. This angle change affected the expected generation of the PV system, but eliminated the reflections affecting the control tower. This problem could have been foreseen if a study like the one carried out by FCR-CSET had been carried out.

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT). Current installation after modification of the angle of the photovoltaic panels.

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