Another Australian airport has turned to solar energy to reduce its consumption of coal-generated electricity from the grid, with the installation of a 99kW PV system on the roof of the Longreach Airport in Queensland.
The 396-panel system was installed by Mount Isa -based Q Energy and, with an average annual production of 205,000kWh, is expected to provide 95 per cent of the airport’s daytime energy needs, and trim between $30,000-$40,000 off its annual power bill.
Longreach Airport COO Kevin Gill said the move to solar was motivated by both social responsibility and by the savings on grid power consumption which, in a climate with average summer temperatures of 36°C, is driven by the need for energy-intensive terminal air-conditioning.
“Our current annual energy costs from the coal generated grid is between $40,000 to $50,000 but the installation cost of our solar system is into six figures so even with the considerable financial saving it will take a number of years to recoup the cost,” Gill said. “But to us the real winner is the environment, as we are focused on sustainability.
Indeed, Longreach Airport’s parent company, Queensland Airports Limited has plans for its other airports in Queensland including Gold Coast, Townsville and Mount Isa.
“At Mount Isa we expect to start on a new solar covered car park in a couple of months, while we are seriously considering solar at Townsville as part of a major redevelopment,” said Gill.
Q Energy Solutions’ Matt Brewster said the Longreach Airport solar installation had been straight forward, and operating via SMA Sunny Tripower SMA STP25000TL-30 inverters, would give zero export functionality, according to Ergon Energy network requirements.
“The inverters ramp up and down their output to match the site load and no power feeds back into the Ergon network,” he said.
“The terminal roof is flat and we designed the system to utilise as much area as we could to achieve the maximum result of 205,485 kWh per annum.
“This more than satisfies the current peak load of 68 KW during the hours of 9am and 5pm seven days a week with three commercial ducted air conditioners consuming most of the power,” he said.