Rockford Solar Partners has received approval from the US Department of Energy and the Federal Aviation Administration to construct a commercial airport solar farm at Chicago-Rockford International Airport in Illinois, US.

Rockford Solar Partners is a renewable energy development joint venture between Wanxiang America and New Generation Power, which will install the 20MW facility across the airport’s 70 acres.

Photovoltaic solar panels will be supplied by Wanxiang America from its new Rockford-based solar panel assembly plant, which has a solar module production capacity of 30MW per year.

New Generation Power senior vice-president of development Michael Pontarelli said that the "… farm firmly plants a prodigious prototype to be followed by other Illinois cities and airports throughout the country for the reduction of carbon emissions, management of energy costs and, most importantly, the much-needed creation of highly paid skilled jobs."

Under the Illinois Power Agency’s long-term renewable energy procurement programme, Ameren Illinois signed a 20-year power purchase contract with Rockford Solar Partners to acquire the energy and all renewable attributes from the 20MW project.

To help meet the demands of the Illinois solar renewable portfolio standard, which will produce 6% solar power by 2015, Rockford Solar Partners will scale up the project to 62MW.

In terms of financing, Rockford Solar Partners received a $4m grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in March 2010 to cover 3.17% of the project’s total cost.

The remaining funds will be financed through non-governmental sources.