Pittsburgh Airport Powers Up Its Own Microgrid

By Rick Laezman | Nov 14, 2019
Airplane wing.

While solar-powered airplanes may turn more heads, other equally important changes are in the works in the space where energy and air travel meet

In October, the Allegheny County Airport Authority announced that the Pittsburgh International Airport would soon be powering up on its own microgrid.

Airport officials are calling the project “the first-of-its kind model” to airports across the country that are trying to meet the combined goals of increased safety, reliability and energy savings. They note that other major airports, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Denver are also considering similar projects. With the microgrid, they say Pittsburgh International will soon become “the smartest airport in the world.” 

The microgrid would be powered by on-site natural gas wells and solar panels. Five natural gas-fueled generators and approximately 7,800 solar panels will be capable of producing more than 20 megawatts of electricity, the equivalent of powering more than 13,000 residential homes. The airport’s current peak demand is approximately 14 megawatts.

The newly constructed microgrid will be the primary source of power for both airport terminals, the airfield and the adjacent Hyatt Hotel and Sunoco gas station. The airport will remain connected to the main grid for emergency backup in event of extreme weather or other disruptions.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority Board of Directors awarded Pittsburgh-based, Peoples Natural Gas a 20-year contract to build, maintain and operate the microgrid at no cost to the airport. 

The micro-grid is expected to be online by summer 2021.

About The Author

LAEZMAN is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at [email protected]

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