Brisbane Airport rolls out massive 6MW solar project

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Huge 6MW solar upgrade at Brisbane Airport will supply 18% of electricity needs and save around $1m a year on energy bills.

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One Step Off The Grid

Queensland’s Brisbane Airport has become the latest in Australia to make the shift to renewable energy, with a massive $11 million, six-stage solar upgrade that will install a total of 6MW of PV panels across six sites.

Work on the project kicked off in July this year and, once completed, stands to include the largest single array – 1.9MW on the roof of the International Terminal – installed at an Australian airport.

Last year, South Australia’s Adelaide Airport completed a 1.17MW PV array on the roof of its short-term car park, taking its total installed solar capacity to 1.28MW.

And back in 2014-15, Alice Springs Airport led the way, installing one of the largest airport systems of the time, totalling 800kW, and generating around 40 per cent of the facility’s electricity needs.

At Brisbane Airport, work is underway on stage one of the solar upgrade – a 260kW array at the airport’s Skygate building, and a 220kW array at the Immigration and Border Protection building.

Another 2.5MW will be installed on the roof of the Domestic Terminal multi-level carparks, starting next month, through to April 2018.

And from May 2018, after the installation at the International Terminal, a 1MW ground mounted PV array is expected to round out the project in December.

Once fully operational, the solar systems will account for 18 per cent of electricity consumption or 6 per cent of the airport’s total energy consumption, saving Australia’s third busiest airport around $1 million on energy bills a year.

“We are in the enviable position of having thousands of square metres of unimpeded roof space ideal for solar harvesting,” Brisbane Airport’s general manager for assets, Krishan Tangri, told the Financial Review.

“It makes financial sense to invest in this readily available supply of renewable energy to save costs and decrease our carbon footprint.”

The AFR reports that Tangri expects the total capacity of the solar system to be increased to a total 10MW, and perhaps to include battery storage, in the not too distant future.

To this end, the Airport has launched a study to determine the optimum energy mix to meet its electricity needs.

Part of that demand will soon come from a fleet of 11 BYD 70 passenger electric buses, which – as we reported here in June – are set to run an inter-terminal shuttle service starting early 2018.

The addition of the buses at Brisbane Airport follows the rollout of a smaller fleet of six at Sydney Airport last year, where they have successfully replaced the diesel bus fleet that serviced the 7km shuttle route between the T2/T3 terminal precinct and the long-term car park.

Like the Sydney fleet, the Brisbane buses will be managed by Australian bus manufacturer and logistics group, Carbridge, as part of a joint venture with Malaysian company Gemilang and the Warren Buffet backed Chinese EV and battery maker, BYD.

The BAC solar project is being installed by Epho in collaboration with Shakra Energy.

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.

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