New solar panels power Boise Airport's hot water system

Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 22, 2017

Beginning this week, the Boise Airport's first solar rooftop project has started providing hot water for a portion of the airport. 

Atop the Boise Airport, 12 solar panels are helping to provide hot water for about 50 percent of the facility. While the majority of solar projects produce electricity, this project produces heat for the water. 

"There is a liquid that moves through those 12 panels and gets incrementally warmer," said Sean Briggs, marketing manager for the airport. "That liquid then goes into a heat plate exchanger that water runs by, and that water is then put into storage tanks that is then used to heat the water in the airport."

A year and a half in the making, this project -- paid for by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration -- will reduce airport emissions and fossil fuel use. 

The solar-powered hot water, which the airport began using Monday, Aug. 21, is being dispersed in areas outside the security checkpoint -- such as restrooms, kitchens and custodial closets. 

If all goes well, airport officials are considering expanding the system.

"The cool thing about this project is it was built so it could easily be expanded, " Briggs said. "So if it works really well, in the future we could double it in size and potentially produce hot water for the entire airport."