Hamilton Airport has become the first airport in New Zealand to install and commission its own solar energy farm.
The 5,000sqm, $1.5 million operation was switched on in early November after a seven-month project led by Renewable Generation Development Limited. At peak capacity, it will generate 460kW of electricity, enough to power around 350 homes.
Waikato Regional Airport Ltd (WRAL) chief executive Mark Morgan said solar energy from the farm will be used to fully power the refurbished airport terminal during daylight hours as well as some ancillary buildings, including the on-site fire station.
It will provide an immediate 25 per cent savings in the airport’s energy costs, initially equating to about $100,000 per year. Energy savings and capacity will increase when the next stage of the farm is completed over the next 2-4 years.
“The energy savings are welcome of course, but there’s a more strategic long-term driver for this investment,” Morgan said.
“This is also around future-proofing the airport and putting in place the infrastructure we’ll need to support growth, including for example electric vehicle chargers. And of course, the solar farm will play an important part in our carbon emissions reduction target.”
The airport has a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with a planned 46 per cent reduction by 2030, he said.
Morgan said other than ensuring regular maintenance was undertaken on the 840 solar panels, there was minimal work involved in managing the solar farm.
“It’s pretty well self-sufficient and now that it’s built, it’s literally just flicking a switch. Our staff are now managing it and so far it’s gone very well.”