Alice Springs Airport Solar Energy Project
Major Airport of the Year 2014
Alice Springs Airport is the Australian Airports Association (AAA) Major Airport of the Year for 2014.
AAA represents more than 260 airports and aerodromes across the country, and its annual awards recognise excellence within Australia’s airport industry. Alice Springs Airport was recognised for its innovative solar energy project.
Combining premium parking with renewable energy
Alice Springs Airport now generates 50 per cent of its energy needs from the sun. Stage two of its ground-breaking solar project cleverly combines premium parking facilities with clean, green power production.
By harnessing the desert climate’s plentiful sunshine, the regional facility is now one of the most sustainable and forward thinking airports in Australia.
With an eye firmly fixed on self-sufficiency, the latest solar energy push has seen Alice Springs Airport emerge as a leader in renewable energy efficiency and business innovation, both within its local community and among the nation’s airport operators.
A staged approach to sustainability
With at least 350 cloudless days a year and 10 hours of sunshine most days, Alice Springs is a natural choice for a solar energy push.
Alice Springs was the first Australian airport to reap the benefits of investing in large scale photovoltaic solar technology feeding back to its internal electricity grid.
The original 235 kW power station was completed in 2010 under stage one and delivered a quarter of airport’s power needs.
In May 2014 a $1.9 million expansion of the solar farm was completed, more than doubling the airport’s capacity to produce its own power from the sun. The investment represents the second stage of a long-term strategy to improve the airport’s energy efficiency and demonstrate the many benefits of solar production to the local community.
The latest 325 kW photovoltaic (PV) system involves 996 panels were installed on top of expansive steel parking structures, serving the dual purpose of mounting the solar panels and providing 98 shaded, premium car spaces.
The additional panels produce enough energy to power 90 homes for a year, and offset the equivalent of 420 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. All up, Alice Springs Airport is offsetting 890 tonnes of carbon annually using solar energy.
Alice Springs is one of seven Solar Cities in the Australian Government’s $94 million Solar Cities Program.
Alice Springs Airport’s Solar Power Station opened for business in September 2010 and, using Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) technology, now supplies about 28 per cent of the airport’s energy needs.
Alice Springs is the first Australian airport to have a large scale (over 100kW) photovoltaic system providing a direct source of renewable energy to its internal grid.
Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) systems are an emerging solar technology that offer perhaps the greatest opportunity for cost reductions in photovoltaic (PV) systems. They are more efficient as they track the sun over the day whereas traditional solar power systems are most efficient only when the sun is shining directly onto the solar arrays.
The project, valued at $2.3 million, resulted from a grant of $1.132 million from the Australian Government, as part of the Alice Solar City Project.
National solar energy specialist Ingenero was the principal contractor for the solar power station, which is about 700 metres north-west of the terminal building.
Reducing the Airport’s carbon emissions by about 470 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year (the equivalent of about 70 Alice Springs households per annum), the Airport has also implemented a number of energy efficiency measures inside the airport terminal building. These initiatives reconfirm Northern Territory Airports’ commitment to sustainability.
Rodger Whitby, General Manager, Generation for Ingenero, said the company had searched the world for the best Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) technology and is pleased to have built this “first of its kind” solar installation in the southern hemisphere.
“We chose SolFocus as technology partner because of its leading edge solar concentration technology. The concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) arrays use mirrored dishes to magnify the sun’s energy 650 times,” he said.
The 7m x 8m arrays are brought to life each day by the sun. They follow the sun throughout each day, much like sunflowers, creating clean, renewable energy for the airport.
Local labour was used to install the 28 arrays, and the project was finished on time, on budget and to the highest standards.