Mildura Airport installs 100kW solar to cut grid costs, boost reliability

Yet another Australian airport has tapped solar power to cut costs and boost security of supply, with the installation of a 100kW grid connected PV system at Mildura Airport in North Western Victoria.
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The system, installed on the roof of the terminal and administration buildings by local group Mildura Solar, comprises a total of 400 Trina Solar 250W panels, as well as Fronius inverters, which provide web based system monitoring.
The monitoring, which is displayed live in the terminal building, shows how much power the solar system is producing, how much is being consumed and how much is going to the grid, and calculates the amount of money and CO2 emissions that are being saved.
Mildura Airport general manager Bill Burke said the facility – the busiest regional airport in Australia – faced the dual energy problems of a costly and unreliable brown-coal power supply.
Located 700km away from La Trobe Valley coal power stations, and at the end of an old power transmission line, the airport suffered from periodic blackouts, he said.
“In looking at the need for our future energy security as part of overall development we called in a specialist consultant to advise us on our future direction and likely needs,” Burke said.
Paul Davy of dsquared Consulting, who specialises in providing sustainable solutions in the built environment, said solar was an obvious solution to the airport’s future energy security.
“Panel efficiency was an important aspect, particularly as the solar panels must have an anti-glare coating to satisfy the requirements of the aviation safety authorities,” he said.
“Trina Solar panels were chosen as a result of our efficiency assessment, particularly as they were the choice of several of the potential suppliers, when we put the contact out to tender.”
Renee Caruthers of Mildura Solar said that while the annual projected energy output has been estimated at 174MWh a year, they would not have savings figures until the monitoring has been connected for 12 months.
Other regional airports in Australia that have recently added solar include Longreach Airport in north-west Queensland (99kW) and Alice Springs Airport, which is nearing 100 per cent renewables with its combined solar systems.

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