Darwin Airport Goes Solar

Darwin’s airport will be flying on solar power by early next year when Australia’s biggest private solar farm is switched on. Sited on six hectares of airport land, the 4 MW PV solar farm will offset about two-thirds of the airport’s peak load, or roughly a quarter of its total annual energy consumption and is expected to provide cost savings of $1.5 million a year based on current peak tariff rates.

CAT Projects has worked closely with the airport’s owner, NT Airports, to development the project from concept through to execution, undertaking all of the front-end engineering and design work, tender preparation and contract management and is acting Superintendent for the installation – a collaboration that has grown from similar services CAT Projects have provided for the three PV systems installed at the Alice Springs Airport, totaling more than 800kW of generating capacity.

The Darwin solar project will be one of the largest photovoltaic systems in Australia, the largest solar project in the Top End and one of the largest privately-funded projects in Australia. Worth $13 million, including work done by Darwin International Airport to prepare the site, the project is due to be completed by early March 2016.  “The Darwin solar project is a chance for the airport to invest in the Territory’s economic future while leading the way on the commercial use of renewable energy,” acting CEO of NT Airports, Tom Ganley said.

“Although it is a major investment for us, the project will provide longer-term returns in energy cost savings and we hope will set an example for other corporate investment in renewable energy projects. …Darwin International Airport uses most of its electricity in the middle of the day, when consumption peaks at 5 MW,” Mr Ganley said. “Demand is projected to grow to 6 MW by the end of 2016 as new developments come on line across the airport.”